ISO 26000 Standard : Corporate Social Responsibility Standard

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a voluntary approach to integrating social, environmental and economic concerns into their strategies and operations. The objective of CSR is to combine economic success with respect for stakeholders and the promotion of sustainable development. But how can companies apply CSR effectively and reliably ?

What is ISO 26000 Standard ?

The ISO 26000 standard, developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), sets out essential guidelines to encourage environmental and economic social responsibility. Also called CSR standard, it concerns all companies and organizations, regardless of size, sector, geographical location or culture.

It aims to guide rather than certify, offering guidelines to encourage socially responsible actions.

The standard is based on seven pillars of social responsibility :

  • Accountability : an obligation for organizations to report their impact on society, the environment and the economy.
  • Transparency : need for organizations to openly disclose the consequences of their activities and decisions on society and the environment.
  • Ethical behaviour : acting with honesty, fairness and integrity.
  • Respect for the interests of stakeholders : take into account the expectations and needs of individuals and groups directly or indirectly affected by the activities of the organization.
  • Respect for legality : compliance with the laws and regulations of the countries of operation.
  • Compliance with international standards of behaviour : adherence to global standards such as human rights, labour rights, environmental protection, etc.
  • Respect for human rights : commit to respect human rights and avoid their violation.

In addition, ISO 26000 standard addresses seven areas of focus:

  • Corporate governance : integrating social responsibility into all aspects of organizational management.
  • Human rights : promoting and respecting human rights within the framework of the organization’s influence.
  • Work practices : ensuring fair working conditions, including health, safety, fair pay, training, etc.
  • The environment : minimize the ecological footprint by preventing pollution, using resources efficiently, promoting renewable energy, etc.
  • Fair labour relations : ethical and responsible conduct towards customers, suppliers, competitors, partners, ensuring loyalty and fairness.
  • Consumer issues : protecting the rights of consumers by offering safe, quality and accessible products and services, while respecting their privacy.
  • Societal engagement : supporting community development, promoting social inclusion, respect for cultural diversity and dialogue with stakeholders.

Developed by a group of more than 500 experts from various sectors and nationalities, the ISO 26000 standard, published in 2010, is the result of five years of intensive consultations. It symbolizes an international agreement on how organizations can commit to social responsibility.

Why adopt ISO 26000 Standard ?

Opting for ISO 26000 standard opens the door to multiple benefits for organizations wishing to fully invest in social responsibility. These benefits can be categorized into three main groups : internal, external and overall benefits.

Internal benefits

By adhering to the principles of ISO 26000 standard, your organization can strengthen its internal functioning through several key areas :

  • Governance : The ISO 26000 standard guides organizations in establishing their vision, mission, values, strategies, policies and processes around social responsibility. It also promotes active participation, transparency, accountability and constructive dialogue with internal actors.
  • Performance : This standard encourages the improvement of economic, social and environmental performance, taking into account the impacts of activities on society and the environment. It stimulates innovation, differentiation, risk and opportunity forecasting, and increases competitiveness.
  • Quality : It helps to enhance the quality of products and services by better meeting customer expectations, ensuring their safety, reliability, durability, etc., while respecting applicable standards and regulations.
  • Human resources : Contributes significantly to the improvement of working conditions, health and safety at work, motivation and satisfaction of employees, promoting training, development, diversity and equal opportunities.

The external benefits

Adopting ISO 26000 standard also significantly improves your relationships with external stakeholders :

  • Reputation : It values the image of the organization, its reputation, its trust, its credibility, and its legitimacy with a wide audience, including customers, suppliers, partners, investors, media and authorities, while ensuring compliance with international standards of behaviour.
  • Dialogue : Promotes constructive dialogue, cooperation, consultation, negotiation, conflict resolution and the creation of synergies with external stakeholders, allowing a better understanding of their expectations and needs.
  • Commitment : Encourages the organization to be actively involved in society, to support initiatives of general interest, to contribute to the development of communities, to promote social inclusion and respect for cultural diversity.

The overall benefits

By aligning its practices with ISO 26000 standard, an organization can make a significant contribution to sustainable development, that is, meet current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. The standard is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all.

What are the advantages of implementing a system that complies with ISO 26000 standard ?

Adopting ISO 26000 standard gives organizations a multitude of benefits in their approach to social responsibility, including :

Improve their reputation and brand image

By adhering to the principles of ISO 26000, organizations increase their credibility and build trust with customers, suppliers, partners, investors, media and authorities. This helps them to distinguish themselves from the competition and to establish themselves as references in their field.

Optimize their economic, social and environmental performance

Applying ISO 26000 enables organizations to increase efficiency and profitability by reducing costs and risks and improving productivity and innovation. This approach also promotes the well-being of employees and communities by improving working conditions and promoting diversity and equal opportunities. From an environmental point of view, it encourages the reduction of the ecological impact through the responsible management of natural resources, the minimization of pollution and the protection of biodiversity.

Contributing to sustainable development

By complying with ISO 26000 standard, organizations actively contribute to sustainable development. This standard is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to eliminate poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all, without compromising the needs of future generations.

What are the key steps to audit and improve a quality management system according to ISO 26000 standard ?

Auditing and improving a quality management system according to ISO 26000 standard is a structured process that is divided into essential steps. Let’s explore the most significant:

Step 1 : Define Social Responsibility Policy and Objectives

This first key moment involves determining the entity’s corporate social responsibility policy and objectives. This process takes into account the operational framework of the organization, its stakeholders, and the associated impacts and opportunities. The policy must reflect management’s commitment to social responsibility, while the objectives must be SMART, that is, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.

It is crucial that the policy and objectives are disseminated across all levels of the organization and are subject to periodic review.

Step 2 : Identify and analyze risks and opportunities

Identifying and analysing the risks and opportunities associated with social responsibility is the second step. To do this, the organization relies on appropriate methodologies such as hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) or chemical risk prevention plans (PPRC). These risks and opportunities must be assessed according to their probability of occurrence, severity and level of acceptability, leading to the formulation of strategies to prevent, minimize, manage or exploit them.

Step 3 : Plan and implement social responsibility actions

The third step is the planning and implementation of social responsibility actions. It must comply with the principles, fields of action and guidelines suggested by the ISO 26000 standard. The actions envisaged need to be documented, assigned, programmed, budgeted and closely monitored.

It is also essential that these actions integrate seamlessly with the organization’s existing business processes at all levels of its business.

Step 4 : Monitor and evaluate social responsibility performance

Monitoring and evaluating the performance of the organization in terms of social responsibility is the fourth step. This involves the use of relevant indicators, internal audits, management reviews, satisfaction surveys and feedback. Findings must be put into perspective with predefined objectives, legal obligations, stakeholder expectations and international standards.

Any identified deviation requires in-depth analysis and the development and implementation of corrective or preventive actions.

Step 5 : Continuously improve the quality management system

This fifth step is crucial and consists in constantly improving the quality management system of your organization. It is based on a thorough analysis of the evaluations carried out, the feedback received, the adoption of good practices and the integration of innovations. The goal of continuous improvement is to maximize the satisfaction of all stakeholders, minimize negative impacts on society and the environment, while increasing the positive impacts.

In addition, it aims to improve the competitiveness of your organization and contribute effectively to sustainable development.

What is the difference between ISO 26000 and the CSR label ?

The ISO 26000 standard and the CSR label are designed to encourage corporate social responsibility, but differ significantly. Let us examine these distinctions.

The Nature

The ISO 26000 standard is an international directive that provides guidance on social responsibility, without offering certification of conformity. It is a guide for companies wishing to promote CSR, without guaranteeing a certain level of performance or compliance.

In contrast, the CSR label is a national certification proving that a company meets a specific set of CSR criteria and performance indicators. This label is awarded following an audit by an independent and accredited entity, ensuring compliance with applicable standards and regulations.

The Perimeter

The ISO 26000 standard addresses all areas of CSR, based on its principles and guidelines. It is intended for any type and size of organization, regardless of sector, location or culture, and respects major international agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ILO conventions, Sustainable Development Goals, etc.

The CSR label, meanwhile, targets specific aspects of CSR according to the framework adopted by the company. In France, various labels exist, such as LUCIE or Engagé RSE, each with its own criteria and indicators. Some of these labels target a specific sector, a company size or a region, and can be more or less recognized by the authorities.

The Process

The ISO 26000 standard encourages a voluntary and flexible approach, including identification and dialogue with stakeholders, analysis and prioritization of CSR issues, definition of objectives, implementation of actions, performance monitoring, and continuous improvement.

The CSR label, on the other hand, requires a strict and prescriptive process, including compliance with predefined criteria, an initial diagnosis, the development and application of an action plan, an external audit, obtaining and maintaining the label, as well as its regular renewal.

La procédure classique

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)


Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)


Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)


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