Employee Social Responsibility: A Missing Component in the ISI 26000 Social Responsibility Standard

AuthorGregory A. Laurence,Thomas A. Hemphill
Published date01 March 2018
Date01 March 2018
Employee Social
Responsibility: A Missing
Component in the ISI 26000
Social Responsibility Standard
In this article, the focus is on developing a governance
concept built on integrating the ISO 26000 Social Respon-
sibility (SR) standard with an “employee social
responsibility” (ESR) concept developed by the authors.
To this end. The authors propose to compliment the vol-
untary, organizationally adaptable, ISO 26000 SR stan-
dard for the organization/firm with a seamlessly
integrated—and equally adaptable—ESR concept for the
individual/employee of that organization/firm. An SR/
ESR governance concept emerges, with an emphasis on
implementing a SR-based business enterprise code of
conduct and ESR-related functional-level codes of con-
duct, the latter firmly ensconced in an organization’s ethi-
cal climate. The conclusion section discusses the
strengths and weaknesses of our proposed SR/ESR gov-
ernance concept.
Thomas A. Hemphill is Professor of Strategy, Innovation and Public Policy, School of Manage-
ment, University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, MI. E-mail: thomashe@umflint.edu. Gregory A.
Laurence is Associate Professor of Management, School of Management, University of
Michigan-Flint, Flint, MI. E-mail: glaurenc@umflint.edu.
C2018 W. Michael Hoffman Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University. Published by
Wiley Periodicals, Inc., 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA, and 9600 Garsington
Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK.
Business and Society Review 123:1 59–81
The definition of what is a “socially responsible” corporation
has remained elusive for both academic scholars and busi-
ness practitioners since its emergence as a concept in the
1950s (see Carroll 1999; Karnani 2012; Makower and Business for
Social Responsibility 1994; McWilliams and Siegel 2001, 2011;
McWilliams et al. 2006; Rodriguez et al. 2006; Scherer and Palazzo
2007; Van Marrewijk 2003; Vogel 2005; Whelan 2012; Windsor
2012; Wood 1991). However, on November 1, 2010, the Geneva-
based International Organization for Standardization (2010) (ISO)
issued what has been characterized as “one of the most eagerly
awaited ISO International Standards of recent years,” ISO 26000:
2010, Guidance on Social Responsibility (hereafter ISO SR stan-
dard), a voluntary guidance standard that integrates international
expertise and state-of-the-art knowledge on the concept of social
responsibility of organizations in society, while incorporating a
“Stakeholder Theory” and “Triple Bottom Line” sustainability phi-
losophy. In this ISO SR standard, social responsibility is defined as
(International Organization for Standardization 2010, p. 3):
... the responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its
decisions and activities on society and the environment,
through transparent and ethical behavior that contributes to
sustainable development, including health and the welfare of
society; takes into account the expectations of stakeholders;
is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with
international norms of behavior; and is integrated throughout
the organization and practiced in its relationships.
In this article, the focus is on developing a governance concept
built on integrating the ISO 26000 SR standard with “employee
social responsibility,” or the ESR concept.
This managerial
approach to developing corporate social responsibility (CSR) strate-
gies and programs comports well with the research undertaken by
Rangan et al. (2015) focusing on CSR practices in 142 firms across
a variety of industries. Rangan et al. (2015, p. 49) conclude that:
It’s neither practical nor logical for all companies to engage in
the same types of CSR, since CSR programs are driven by
diverse factors including the industry and the societal envi-
ronments in which businesses operate and the motivations of

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