ISO2600 makes progress towards 2010 launch dateSeptember 2009
Work on the development of an ISO standard on social responsibility will move another key step forward next month with the publication of an international draft version.
The emergence of the draft will mean the ISO 26000 standard has reached the fourth stage in a six-step International Organization for Standardization process leading to publication of a final standard.
Once published in October, the draft international standard will be circulated to all ISO member bodies for voting and comment over a five-month period.
Providing the draft is accepted by a two-thirds majority of members of ISO technical committees and subcommittees, it will then be declared a ‘final draft international standard’ and subjected to a further two months of scrutiny by the ISO central secretariat. Once the secretariat has given its approval, the final text will be published. That date is expected to be around September 2010.
IS0 26000 will reach it next stage as the result of a recent meeting in Quebec City, Canada, where the 300 experts from 60 countries who form the ISO working group on social responsibility looked at more than 3000 comments generated by a consultation exercise on a committee draft of the standard submitted earlier this year.
Despite some disagreements and a history of past wranglings, the ISO said there was a high level of consensus on the shape of the document, and that most problems appear to have been ironed out.
Jorge Cajazeira, chair of the working group, said the Quebec meeting had been ‘outstanding’, while Staffan Soderberg, its vice chair, added: ‘We have really been able to enhance agreement on this draft guidance standard and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.’
ISO 26000 is being developed by the ISO as a collection of guidance notes rather than a full-blown certification standard, and is intended to establish principles and offer advice to organizations wishing to implement social responsibility programmes.
Drafting began in 2004 and has been painstaking, partly because the ISO has wanted to develop a worldwide consensus on its contents among representatives of business, NGOs, unions, governments and consumers.
Debate on the content of ISO 26000 has often been characterized by weighty disagreements among participants, even on basic issues such as the definitions of social responsibility.
The draft international standard, which is applicable to all organizations, not just companies, includes guidance on areas such as engaging stakeholders, integrating social responsibility throughout an organization, climate change mitigation, anti-corruption, and community involvement.
ISO standards establish best practice in fields from vacuum cleaner specifications to office layouts. Their use is voluntary.
Also see: Compact spat with ISO
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