I was heartened to see the Influential Voices draw on diverse personal and professional experiences for the February topic—how can the quality community measure return on investment in social responsibility to assess business value?
These are some of the common themes that emerged:
• Bringing in influential industry leaders or points of view around social responsibility discussions. Dennis Arter correctly suggests that we need more training on SR. And Guy Wallace reminds us of Roger Kaufman, who developed the Mega Planning Model years ago to measure how organizations impact communities.
• There is some confusion around social responsibility, particularly around the thought of it being connected to charity. While SR may include charitable giving, SR and charity aren’t synonymous. Bruce Waltuck suggests that a good starting point for defining SR is the Golden Rule. How much better off the world would be if all organizations followed this simple rule! And Lori Dellinger suggests that organizations must prove they’ve adopted SR as a real action.
• Quality has a natural link to social responsibility. I’m happy to hear that ASQ’s Code of Ethics has informed and guided David Levy for more than two decades– long before the development of ISO 26000!
• The belief in, importance and conformance of ISO 26000. Aimee Siegler notes that ISO 26000 gives us quality tools that we can pass to future generations. Jennifer Stepniowski writes about meeting Rob Steele, ISO secretary -general. Matthew Heusser reminds us that it takes more than a checklist to implement SR—it takes changing company culture. And Chris Hermenitt blogs about using ISO 26000 to evaluate and modify existing ethics codes.
• Social responsibility is and should be linked to business success. Dr. Robert Burney notes that SR practices won’t be widely implemented without regulation or a proven competitive advantage. Robert Mitchell suggests two more metrics for measuring SR. The quality community can raise its voice in helping organizations understand that being more socially responsible contributes to the top line, and bottom line, and reduces risk at the same time.
• Globally, social responsibility has different meanings and is being adopted at various rates. Cesar Diaz Guevera notes that while the concept of SR is fairly new in Ecuador, some companies are already applying this standard. And Anshuman Tiwari, in India, describes how the TATA Group uses SR in its culture.
These are inspiring thoughts on raising the global voice of quality through social responsibility. My favorite definion of quality is Taguchi’s “least cost to society.” You can’t be any more socially responsible than that. If fact, I can’t think of one outcome of improved quality that isn’t socially responsible. I think it’s clear that the quality community has the tools, methodology, concepts and techniques to implement SR in a way that has business AND social value. Let’s get to work in providing leadership here.