The Intersection of Quality and Social Responsibility

ASQ released our annual Pathways to Social Responsibility report, a collection of case studies by organizations that are furthering their social responsibility efforts. Reading their stories makes me think. ISO 26000 (Social Responsibility) was released on November 1, 2010, but was available in various draft forms for at least two years before the release.  How has the standard shaped our dialogue? 

ASQ’s 2011 Future of Quality Study identifies global responsibility as the most significant force in shaping the future of quality. China’s Quality Development Outline (2011-2020) includes significant language in support of being socially responsible. Europe can point to many developments that have social responsibility at their root.

For more on the intersection of business and social responsibility, see this research study that ASQ conducted in partnership with IBM (PDF).  A total of 1,105 respondents participated in this study, which details distinguishing characteristics and metrics that worldwide organizations use to lead to successful SR programs.

And so I wonder, is the world growing more responsive to the needs of being socially responsible?  Is SR mainstream thought, or still in the fringe?  Have those that know quality raised their voices to explain to organizations that being socially responsible is not about philanthropy (giving money for social good), but about business : “Doing well by doing good.” 

Is the quality community helping organizations understand that SR is an ideology until matched with methodologies? And that quality concepts, techniques, and tools provide the needed methodologies to obtain and sustain SR goals?

Phil Crosby helped to popularize quality in 1980 with his book “Quality is Free.”  He made the argument for executives that quality doesn’t cost more, it costs less than poor quality. And so goes the argument for SR. It needn’t cost to be socially responsible; it benefits. SR benefits the top line and bottom line.  When executives understand they can save money, reduce risk, and enhance their reputation by being socially responsible–they will.  Who better than the quality community to provide the needed education?  More good reason to raise your voice.     

This month, tell me how you’re making the case for quality and social responsibility. And if you’re not—why?

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4 Responses to The Intersection of Quality and Social Responsibility

  1. Kishore says:

    Views on Social responsibility and connection to Quality –

    Social responsibility is not an oxymoron.
    For a company in health insurance industry Social responsibility means –

    • Promoting the health and well being of the local community (employees and the society)
    • Providing affordable healthcare by charging the lowest possible premiums
    • Improving the accessibility of the healthcare by including all eligible providers
    • Providing high quality healthcare
    • Demonstrating ethical behavior (paying claims in a timely fashion, not following discriminatory practices in offering insurance products, Detecting and preventing fraud, abuse, waste in the healthcare delivery systems etc.)
    • Provide opportunities for employees to volunteer for social causes (blood donation, renovating of schools, educating society about healthy life style etc.)
    • Empowering employees and provide learning opportunities so that they can be more productive at the workplace

    All of the above are directly related to quality practices within the organization and quality professional play an important role in educating and obtaining top management commitment to make these happen. Quality managers must work with top management must make sure that company’s mission, vision, values, goals and objectives reflect these. Being socially responsible improves the credibility and trustworthiness of the organization and this leads to long-term sustainability. Corporate profitability and social responsibility is not a zero-sum game. Looking at this from the top management’s language of money, quality professionals need to explain this in terms of prevention, appraisal and failure costs.

    As an example, how does a quality manager sell to the top management that health insurance company must make efforts to promote the health and well being of the local community (employees and the society).

    Healthy population leads to lower healthcare costs. Healthy employees lead to more productivity and reduces company’s administrative expenses. Organization benefits, employees benefit, and the society benefits.

  2. Okaka Richard says:

    The whole idea of the insurance scheme is to gather a pool of wealth or resources, which means more people will result to a greater resources.if the community is provided with basic amenities like power,hospital,schools,shelter via insurance scheme and only those who participate in this scheme enjoy this facilities at reduce annual fees while those who do not participate in the scheme enjoy the service at high cost per service rendered. This will attract more individual to join and as well reduce the cost and risk of insurance.

  3. Pingback: July Roundup–Intersection of Social Responsibility and Quality | A View from the Q

  4. Julia says:

    This combination of ASQ and IBM can be a very good oopnrtupity to put forward some good pointers to the world about the importance of building the known advantages of imbedding Quality concepts into any organizations’ management structure. this should stress that it become the corporate culture to maintain quality at all levels in the organization. This should include proper recognition for those who perform its functions and make it work.This may be a good time to bring in the European concept that Quality should be part of the laws of the land and require it in the US as they do in some countries there. A small start would be to prohibit downsizing’ where more than ????Thousand people were to be dismissed without a full review of the corporate reasons for the action. This review would be by a panel of peer CEO’s who have been vetted to support corporate control of companies , the best thing for the country, and possibly tariffs to maintain the profitability of the action that is about to be axed. There could be a second panel that would review the situation and the companys possible capabilities and recommend a new product (or service) that those being considered for dismissal could recycled to become employees in a new endeavor within the company or in a new company.Is there any place where I could be of any assistance in this effort?Marshall L IhrigRetired from IBMRetired from US NavyMember of ASQ

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