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A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.

The scope of the subject matter within A QualitEvolution extends to the furthest ranges of quality, business transformation, management science, and quality issues especially pertinent to the members of ASQ in Canada.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Beyond Good Intentions: The Principles of Social Responsibility

This article is also available on TheSRO website for Blogs: http://community.thesro.org/profiles/blogs/beyond-good-intentions-the-principles-of-social-responsiblity

The ISO 26000 provides the international community with the following principles on Social Responsibility.  From knowledge of these principles, an organization can move beyond good intentions by establishing its governance and operations to incorporate the best outcomes prescribed by these principles.  This summary will list the principles along with an overall explanation.  The details of each Social Responsibility principle will require individual blog articles to appropriately address the guidelines.

1.       Principle: Accountability
An organization should be accountable for its impacts on society, the economy, and the environment.

2.       Principle: Transparency
An organization should be transparent in its decisions and activities that impact on society and the environment.

3.       Principle: Ethical Behavior
An organization should behave ethically

4.       Principle: Respect for Stakeholder Interests
An organization should respect, consider and respond to the interests of its stakeholders.

5.       Principle: Respect for the Rule of Law
An organization should accept that respect for the rule of law is mandatory.

6.       Principle: Respect for International Norms of Behavior
An organization should respect international norms of behavior, while adhering to the principle of respect for the rule of law.

7.       Principle: Respect for Human Rights
An organization should respect human rights and recognize both their importance and their universality.

The principles take the concepts of Social Responsibility beyond good intentions by emphasizing actions, choices, and the tangible effects of those decisions.  The Principles also are written in such a way that the typical excuses and rationalizations are rendered futile or moot. 

The common element of every Social Responsibility principle is Respect, whether or not the word Respect is overtly mentioned.  The opposite of Respect, Contempt, contributes to the negligence, misconduct, and overt harm that socially irresponsible organizations bring to society.  If Quality is the pursuit of eliminating Waste and Deviation, Social Responsibility could be considered as the pursuit of eliminating Contempt, and replacing that with Respect.

These Social Responsibility Principles are not mutually exclusive elements.  The interdependencies are self-evident as demonstrated with the following examples.
-          Ethical Behavior as defined by Respect for International Norms of Behavior
-          Transparency in accordance with Respect for the Rule of Law
-          Accountability in fulfillment of Respect for Stakeholder Interests and Respect for Human Rights

A deficiency or malady in one of the principles taints and tarnishes the fulfillment of other principles by their very definition.  The absence or inadequacy of a principle like Accountability creates doubt and illegitimacy in the claims of fulfillment in Stakeholder Interests, since there would be elements for which the organization is not accountable.

As a final observation, the common object of the Social Responsibility Principles is the Organization.  While decisions and actions are taken by Individuals, those individuals work as agents or proxies, representing the Organization and its core values.  If the divergence is the act of rogue or defiant Individuals operating in a manner inconsistent with the values of the Organization, then there is an implicit expectation that the Organization will address the variation and divergence in a visible and tangible manner, and reinforce its Social Responsibility obligations and principles accordingly.

As Organization that follows the Social Responsibility Principles goes beyond good intentions by stating expectations or “virtues”, and then providing guidelines to achieve that elevated existence of doing well by “doing good”.

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