July Roundup–Intersection of Social Responsibility and Quality

The time for social responsibility (SR) is here. No longer can organizations ignore society as a stakeholder—on that point, all appear to be in agreement. By all, I mean organizations that took part in a recent SR study conducted by IBM and ASQ, companies whose SR practices were profiled in the latest issue of ASQ’s Pathways to Social Responsibility, ASQ Influential Voices bloggers who responded to my July post about the intersection of quality and social responsibility, and beyond.

So what about the role of quality and the concepts, techniques, and tools that provide proven methodologies to obtain, sustain, and measure SR progress?  As blogger Dr. Robert Burney says: “Perhaps the quality professional is uniquely positioned to help with these decisions, given our emphasis on data collection, analysis, and presentation.”

Agreed—and I encourage you to read all the other responses by the Influential Voices. But first, I’d like to welcome new blogger Daniel Zrymiak to the group. In his inaugural post, Dan wisely notes that one can have good quality yet poor social responsibility—and uses pro wrestling to illustrate his example!

Other insights:

Mark Graban and Tim McMahon write about the unique role that Lean can play in social responsibility initiatives.

Manu Vora looks to ISO standards, including the SR standard ISO 26000, as well as his own work with SR initiatives in India. Dr. Lotto Lai writes about SR and ISO 26000 in Hong Kong. Cesar Diaz Guevara examines CSR and ISO 26000 in Ecuador. Jimena Calfa writes about CSR initiatives in Bulgaria, Argentina and beyond. Paulo Sampaio shares a research study on SR initiatives led by corporations in Portugal.

Nicole Radziwill ponders whether SR is mainstream or is still a fringe topic, and, in a follow-up post, whether it’s possible to practice philanthropy but not true social responsibility. On a similar note, Jennifer Stepniowski writes that she finds the subject changed when SR comes up in quality-related discussions. Our job is to create demand for SR if it does not currently exist, responds Chris Hermenitt. Guy Wallace notes that SR may not always be a realistic goal for companies, which have many stakeholders to consider.

Deborah Mackin frames her discussion around a seemingly simple question: ““Isn’t social responsibility about doing what is right even when no one is looking?” John Hunter looks to Dr. Deming (as well as companies such as Toyota and Patagonia) in his discussion, finding much wisdom in Deming’s statement that “The aim proposed here for any organization is for everybody to gain – stockholders, employees, suppliers, customers, community, the environment – over the long term.” Robert Mitchell discusses the SR/quality strategy at his employer, 3M.

Nergis Soylemez notes that companies must not confuse philanthropy and donations with social responsibility. Scott Rutherford argues that we need to appreciate individuals in our organizations to truly achieve SR goals. If you care about quality, you probably care about SR–even if you don’t realize it, adds Anshuman Tiwari. And John Priebe writes that companies must not forget their fourth stakeholder—society. The other three are customers, employees, and shareholders.

(On a different note, this month David Levy blogs about quality and the language of business.)

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