The ISO 26000 Standard – Guidance on Social Responsibility is here with us! It is now time for all organizations regardless of their size or location to embrace it.
The Standard was officially launched in Kenya on 30th March, 2011 by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industrialization, Dr. Eng. Karanja Kibicho, during a national workshop held at the Red Court Hotel in Nairobi.
The workshop was organized by Ufadhili Trust and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS).
ISO 26000 - Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility is the most comprehensive international standard on social responsibility. The standard is intended to provide guidance to all types of organization, regardless of their size or location, including governmental, non-governmental organizations as well as business, on their social and environmental performance.
ISO 26000 provides organizations with a framework to implement socially responsible behavior throughout the organization, and through its practices and policies within its sphere of influence. The standard intends to complement existing organizational strategies, systems, practices and processes geared towards social responsibility but goes a step further to emphasize results and improvements in organizational performance.
Speaking during the workshop, Dr. Kibicho noted that Social Responsibility has become an integral part of business and that the society expects corporations to become responsible and ethical on their day-to-day undertakings. He further noted that the Ministry of Industrialization is working closely with other stakeholders to encourage innovative and internationally competitive business solutions to environmental problems and the wider challenges of sustainable development.
Dr. Kibicho said, “I am glad to note that the Kenya Bureau of Standards is in the forefront in development of national and international Standards that are relevant and industry driven. This is evidence that Kenya is keen on embracing the best practices in all areas for industrial development and trade facilitation.”
On her part, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Mrs. Beatrice N. Kituyi while closing the national workshop called on a multi stakeholder approach in the promotion of social responsibility.
Mrs. Kituyi said, “As you are aware, social responsibility is an issue that requires our concerted efforts to thrive. The role you play as stakeholders is important in complementing the Government’s effort to raise public awareness and expectations……… The promotion of social responsibility is a great boost and contributes significantly to sustainable development of our country including the implementation of the tenets and rights enshrined in the new constitution.”
The participants who were drawn from government, private and civil society sectors were taken through the various aspects of the ISO 26000 Standard.
Mr. Jared Ombewa of the Kenya Bureau of Standards took the participants through the fundamental principles of the Standard; he talked about issues such as accountability, transparency, ethical behavior, respect for stakeholder interests, as well as respects for the rule of law and international norms. On his part, Mr. Charles Nyangute of the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) took the participants through the core subjects of the Standard, which included issues such as community involvement, fair operating practices, consumer rights, and environmental conservation among others.
While giving an overview of CSR in Kenya, Mr. Mumo Kivuitu, the Executive Director of Ufadhili Trust, organizations to voluntarily embrace the concept of self regulation, failure to which the law will catch with them.
He said, “If we do not regulate ourselves the law will regulate us.”
As a way forward, it was noted that it is the responsibility of every one to move the standard forward. Organizations were encouraged to establish a desk and identify personnel to deal with the issues relating to the Standard in addition to domesticating the core issues into their programmes and activities. Development of the Standard began in 2005. The worldwide process involved the largest and the most broadly based representation of stakeholders from industry, government, labour, consumers groups, non-governmental organizations, academic and research institutions. In Kenya, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) led the process working through a stakeholder grouping dubbed the ‘National Mirror Committee’ which Ufadhili Trust is a member.