Social Responsibility and Quality

Social responsibility and quality seem to be very close cousins. It’s hard to imagine any outcome of improved quality that is not socially responsible. Moreover, social responsibility is an ideology, but, as such, requires the methodology, concepts, techniques, and tools of quality to help organizations establish direction and measure SR goals.

It seems natural that as SR becomes an increasingly important topic in corporate boardrooms, organizations will look to quality professionals for help. ASQ serves as the secretariat for the U.S. Technical Advisory Group for ISO 26000, which was approved in November 2010 and subsequently adopted as a U.S. national standard. Since 2006, ASQ has been working to introduce quality to the SR community–and support the quality community in highlighting ways it can help organizations with SR goals.

We were delighted when Manpower Professional participated in an ASQ-convened think tank on quality’s role in SR in 2009. Recently, ASQ and Manpower Professional have co-authored a white paper titled, “Social Responsibility and the Quality Professional: The Implications of ISO 26000” (please sign in with your ASQ account or set up a free login to access this white paper). I commend Manpower for undertaking this project and encourage you to consider the implications of quality and SR to your work and career.

The white paper makes clear that SR is a calling for the quality professional, and a calling for quality to become more strategic and impactful in solving problems–and assuring results–that reach well beyond the boundaries of the product or service.

It’s clear that SR is here to stay. For the quality community, the key question is: how do we measure return on investment in SR to assess business value? The quality community can do much to help organizations understand that being socially responsible is not a cost, nor trade-off, and certainly not simple philanthropy. Being socially responsible is advancing one popular definition of quality:

The least cost to society.

What do you think?

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