Organizations worldwide and their stakeholders are becoming increasingly aware of the need for and benefits of socially responsible behavior. The objective of social responsibility is to contribute to sustainable development. An organization’s commitment to the welfare of society and the environment has become a central criterion in measuring its overall performance and ability to continue operating effectively. This, in part, is a reflection of the growing recognition that we need to ensure healthy ecosystems, social equity, and good organizational governance. Ultimately, an organization’s activities depend on the health of the world’s ecosystems. These days, organizations are subject to greater scrutiny by their various stakeholders.

Who can benefit from ISO 26000 and how?

ISO 26000 guides all types of organizations, regardless of their size or location, on:

  1. Concepts, terms, and definitions related to social responsibility;
  2. Background, trends, and characteristics of social responsibility;
  3. Principles and practices relating to social responsibility;
  4. Core subjects and issues of social responsibility;
  5. Integrating, implementing, and promoting socially responsible behavior throughout the organization and, through its policies and practices, within its sphere of influence;
  6. Identifying and engaging with stakeholders; &
  7. Communicating commitments, performance, and other information related to social responsibility.

ISO 26000 is intended to assist organizations in contributing to sustainable development. It encourages them to go beyond legal compliance, recognizing that compliance with the law is a fundamental duty of any organization and an essential part of their social responsibility program. The standard seeks to promote a common understanding of social responsibility while complementing – but not replacing – other existing tools and initiatives. When applying ISO 26000, organizations should consider societal, environmental, legal, cultural, political, and organizational diversity and differences in economic conditions while being consistent with international norms of behavior.

Core Subjects of Social Responsibility:

The ISO 26000 standard defines the core subjects of social responsibility. Core subjects comprise several issues, but each organization must identify relevant and significant issues to its stakeholders that need to be addressed. Clause 6 of the ISO 26000 standard explains the seven core subjects. They are listed below, along with their subclause numbers.

  1. Core subject: Organizational governance

Decisions are to be made in consideration of the expectations of society. Accountability, transparency, ethics, and stakeholders should be factors in the organization’s decision-making process.

  1. Core subject: Human rights

All humans have the right to fair treatment and the elimination of discrimination, torture, and exploitation (due diligence, human rights risk situations, avoidance of complicity, resolving grievances, discrimination, and vulnerable groups, civil and political rights, economic, social, and cultural rights, & fundamental principles and rights at work).

  1. Core subject: Labor practices

Those working on behalf of the organization are not a commodity. The goal is to prevent unfair competition based on exploitation and abuse (employment and employment relationships, conditions of work and social protection, social dialogue, health and safety at work, & human development and training in the workplace).

  1. Core subject: Environment

The organization has a responsibility to reduce and eliminate unsustainable volumes and patterns of production and consumption and to ensure that resource consumption per person becomes sustainable (prevention of pollution, sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of the environment, biodiversity, and restoration of natural habitats).

  1. Core subject: Fair operating practices

Building systems of fair competition, preventing corruption, encouraging fair competition, and promoting the reliability of fair business practices help to build sustainable social systems (anti-corruption, responsible political involvement, fair competition, promoting social responsibility in the value chain, & respect for property rights).

  1. Core subject: Consumer issues

The promotion of just, sustainable, and equitable economic and social development concerning consumer health, safety, and access is the organization’s responsibility (fair marketing, factual and unbiased information and fair contractual practices, protecting consumers’ health and safety, sustainable consumption, consumer service, support, and complaint and dispute resolution, consumer data protection and privacy, Access to essential services, education, and awareness).

  1. Core subject: Community involvement and development

The organization should be involved in creating sustainable social structures where increasing levels of education and well-being can exist (community involvement, education and culture, employment creation and skills development, technology development and access, wealth and income creation, health, & social investment).


  • Google Image. (2022).
  • ASQ. (2022). What is ISO 26000 – Guidance on Social Responsibility?
  • ISO. (2010). ISO 26000 Social Responsibility.
  • ISO. (2010). Social Responsibility – Discovering ISO 26000.