Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


AA1000 gets major overhaul

September 2001

Moves to revise the AA1000 standard on social auditing have begun with the publication of a consultation document on how it should be updated.

The document, produced by the Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability, outlines five areas – innovation and learning, stakeholder engagement, management systems, assurance and governance, and risk management – in which it believes the standard can be strengthened. Once revised, it will be re-christened AA2000.

The consultation draft says one of the biggest concerns voiced by those using AA1000 is that ‘the heavy investment in stakeholder engagement is not delivering businesses with useful information, improving decision-making, or even necessarily enhancing reputation.’

Given that stakeholder engagement is the main focus of the standard, it promises that Isea will look at ways of addressing these concerns and provide guidance on them in the updated version.

Isea launched AA1000 in November 1999 (EP8, 1999) to give guidance to companies on how they can talk to stakeholders, develop performance indicators, carry out social audits, produce social reports and measure ethical standards. The standard has been used by around 30 companies including Agrocel, British Airways, Camelot, the Co-operative Bank, CIS, CWS, Ford, Novo Nordisk and TXU Europe.

Isea had always planned to revise the standard within two years of its publication, and has now begun that process by sending the consultation document, Developing AA2000, to its members.

Once comments from members have been taken on board, a full ‘exposure draft’ will be circulated in October to companies that have used AA1000, organizations that produce other standards, non-governmental organizations, consultancies and auditing firms.

The revised AA2000 document is expected to be released in April 2002.

Simon Zadek has stepped in to lead Isea after chief executive Kay Sexton resigned on health grounds. Zadek, who is chair of Isea, has taken over the chief executive’s role on a part-time basis while a successor is sought. Sexton joined Isea in May 2000 from the World Humanity Action Trust, a non-governmental organization, but had been on long-term sick leave since early April 2001.


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