Social Responsibility: Making a Quality Difference Where We Live, Work, and Play

This is a guest post by Jennifer J. Stepniowski, communications director at Pro QC International, a third-party quality consulting and engineering firm. She is an Influential Voices blogger for ASQ, vice chair of ASQ’s Social Responsibility Technical Community, and Education Chair for ASQ Section 1508. Stepniowski is also an adjunct instructor for Hillsborough Community College and HCC’s Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education.  Her personal mantra is inspired by Peter Drucker, which includes “the best way to predict the future is to create it.”

ASQ recently announced the approval of a Social Responsibility Technical Community.  According to the Community’s charter, its responsibilities will be to establish and administer general policies related to society-wide SR activities and to serve as a member-leader advisory board related to the Body of Knowledge.

This is exciting news that further demonstrates the salience of this topic and its progression into quality.  Further support is found in the United Nations Global Compact that claims more than 12,000 organizations in over 145 countries have committed to showing good global citizenship in the areas of human rights, labor standards, anti-corruption, and environmental protection.

SR is of special interest to quality professionals for several reasons.  The big-picture reason considers the definition of quality as meeting or exceeding customer expectations.  With that, it was cited in a 2010 IBM study that “83 percent of CEOs believe customers will expect an increasing focus on social responsibility.”  In fact, ASQ’s 2011 Future of Quality Study identified global responsibility as “the most significant force shaping the future of quality.”

Want to know more? Additional resources that further demonstrate the quality/SR connection include:

Social responsibility continues to gain momentum, and with it come increased opportunities for us as individuals to make a difference where we live, work, and play.

In a 2007 Harris Poll, 31 percent of those surveyed indicated a belief that “people have a personal responsibility to make the world a better place by being actively involved with various issues and causes.”  And yet in the same survey, 25 percent of respondents indicated “social responsibility has little consequence in their lives.”  (See the Harris poll data.)

So, how do we increase awareness and engagement? How do we become more socially responsible as individuals?

I decided to ask around for some ideas and am grateful for the feedback received.  It turns out that as individuals, there’s a lot we can do.

•    Learn stuff.  Check out ISO 26000, or explore the recently posted Body of Knowledge that ASQ has posted on the subject. Fast Company lists 51 resources in this article. Be inspired to incorporate what you learn at home and at work. Walking meetings, anyone?

•    Review your investments and reallocate to more SR-friendly sources whenever possible.  Several studies indicate that socially responsible investment (SRI) mutual funds are competitive with their non-SRI peers. Socially responsible funds performed well even during times of economic turmoil: Large-cap SRI mutual funds outperformed the S&P 500 by 6 percent in 2009. Source.

•    Make conscious purchasing decisions.  Start with evaluating the top 20 percent of your expenditures. Get into the habit of checking labels before you buy.

Did you know? Some 52 percent of global respondents in a 2014 Nielsen survey including over 30,000 consumers in 60 countries say their purchase decisions are partly dependent on the packaging – they check the labeling first before buying to ensure the brand is committed to positive social and environmental impact. Sustainable purchase considerations are most influenced by the packaging in Asia-Pacific (63 percent), Latin America (62 percent) and Middle East/Africa (62 percent) and to a lesser extent in Europe (36 percent) and North America (32 percent). Source.

•    Join your Homeowners’ Association (HOA) if you have one. Granted, I wasn’t winning any popularity contests with this one. But, it felt good to have more trees planted in my neighborhood, hire an environmentally friendly pest control company, and organize events like community garage sales.

•    Give blood. It’s not something that can be manufactured and must come from volunteers. According to the American Red Cross, someone needs a blood transfusion every two seconds. As little as one pint can save up to three lives.

•    Find a cause and donate some time and/or money. Feed the homeless, help at an animal shelter, volunteer at the hospital, support a crowdfunding project or consider using a website like to get ideas more suited to what you’re passionate about. I’m working with my ASQ section to organize one SR speaker per year and a follow-up community event to “increase impact” and satisfy strategic objectives.

Did you know? According to a 2010 study, one in five U.S. adults (21 percent) feel that people should generally take part in things such as voluntary service, donating to charities or getting involved in community activities because it is the right thing to do.  Source.

•    Tune in and speak up. Communicate your opinions on policy or other issues and let your public representatives know how you feel.  Sites like create awareness and provide an opportunity for action.

Did you know? A 2010 Harris Poll revealed among those who have taken action as a result of following a cause online (39 percent), over half (54 percent) say they have talked to a friend or a family member after reading something on a nonprofit or charitable organization’s social networking site, a third (33 percent) have contacted an elected representative, 31 percent have made a financial contribution to the organization, 23 percent have made a financial contribution to a cause the organization supports and 23 percent have attended an event sponsored by the organization. Source.

•    Talk to kids. American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt provided some insight here when he said “we cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build out youth for the future.”

•    Support local parks and outdoor spaces. They’re perfect for family picnics and team building events.

What else?  Share your ideas in the comments!  And, contact me at if interested in ASQ’s Social Responsibility Technical Community.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” ~William James

One thought on “Social Responsibility: Making a Quality Difference Where We Live, Work, and Play”

  1. Social responsibility is something crucial for any community. I come form the Blood Bank area , and as quality manager we focus and spend a lot of time educating the community: the importance in giving back … giving back life with only
    one donation blood donation.

    If you do it through a plan, different methods, styles, and keep motivating the others, it will work.
    Most of the time people really dont realize the impact they can have in someone else’s life.
    All this is the result of lack of information !

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