What is ISO26000?

ESG and ISO26000 are best implemented with the support of a worker voice app. Organisations which adopt the ISO26000 standard can refer to their use of its principles in their business operations and day-to-day activities and feel confident that this brings them in line with international best practice for ESG, worker voice and real-time delivery of social and governance standards.

As the BSI (author of ISO26000) states: “The standard seeks to promote a common understanding of social responsibility while complementing – but not replacing – other existing tools and initiatives. When applying ISO 26000, organizations should consider societal, environmental, legal, cultural, political and organizational diversity as well as differences in economic conditions, while being consistent with international norms of behaviour.”

ISO26000 is not a standard against which an organisation can be “certified”, unfortunately – but perhaps that is also appropriate given the wide variety of cultural norms and definitions of social responsibility around the world. But implementing ESG and ISO26000 via a worker voice app delivers an immediate win for organisations that are seeking to achieve best practice.

ESG, ISO26000: social scores and worker voice

Our worker voice app, and the resulting social score, are fully aligned with the principles of ISO26000.

Worker voice

The ISO standard covers more than just the matters that the worker voice app and social score. Implementing the worker voice app and working with the diagnostic panel that supports the social score does not mean that ISO26000 is implemented and complied with. But, on the other hand, organisations that use the worker voice app and social score, including the dashboards and diagnostics, will already have moved along way towards achieving international best practices in the way that they communicate with and understand the relationship between the workplace and the workers that are employed within it.

Who is the BSI – what is an ISO standard?

An ISO is an “International Standard for Organisation”. It is a definition of best practices and most ISOs include a framework and certification process. ISO26000, as already stated, is not capable of being certified because of the breadth of the subject matter included in the standard and the diversity of social and cultural norms involved in considering what best practice might look like. On the other hand, organisations that aspire to achieve best practice in the management of their workplace and business operations should look seriously at embedding ISO26000 into their policies, procedures and processes.

The BSI is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It started as the “British Standards Institute” but has developed into a truly international body. It publishes standards that are national, regional and international – and an “ISO” standard is an international standard intended for global adoption – contrasting for example, with a “BN” standard which is British, or an “EN” standard which is European. ISO standards are recognised around the world as definitions of best practice.

The BSI website dealing with ISO standards is here. ISO26000 can be purchased from the BSI here.

What does ISO26000 say?

There are three main sections:

  • Clauses 1 to 4 are definitional and narrative in scope. These set out how organisations should determine their impact on society, what should be considered, and the principles of social responsibility:
    • Accountability
    • Transparency
    • Ethical behaviour
    • Respect for stakeholder interests
    • Respect for the rule of law
    • Respect for international norms of behaviour
    • Respect for human rights
  • Clauses 5 and 6 take the principles and distil them into tangible and actionable subjects:
    • The two fundamental practices of social responsiblity: “recognising your responsibilities” and then “identifying / engaging with stakeholders”. This means understanding what you are responsible for, determining who is impacted by these responsibilities, and then how to engage with them.
    • Identifying the core subjects through which social responsiblity is implemented:
      • Human rights
      • Labour practices
      • The environment
      • Fair operating practices
      • Consumer issues
      • Community involvement and development
  • Clause 7 then deals with the practices required to integrate social responsibility throughout an organisation:
    • Defining the touch points between the organisation and society where social responsibilty must be considered.
    • Using the touch points to define the social responsiblity of the organisation, given its activities.
    • Actions:
      • Setting out voluntary initiatives for social responsiblity
      • Enhancing credibility regarding social responsibility
      • Reviewing and improving the actions and practices to take social responsibility into account
      • Communicating about social responsibility (internally and externally)

ESG worker voice app – specifics on ISO26000

Implementing ISO26000 requires an appreciation of social interactions inside a workplace and between a workplace and the society it operates within. That society includes distant customers as well as neighbours.

The worker voice app is a communication tool – connecting workers in the workplace to managers, owners, corporate customers and ultimately to consumers of the products or services in shops or online.

Implementing the worker voice app can be a central, even an anchor part, of an implementation of the ISO26000 standard:

  1. Communication with workers: The topic panels used in the worker voice app show workers what is important and not important about their workplace, interactions specifically with them, and interactions with their wider environment. The topics themselves are very informative, putting workers on continuous notice of the standards that are expected of themselves and their employer. Topics include: pay, governance, overtime, freedom to work, safety, local pollution, ethical treatment, and many other natural and normal dimensions of workplace life – internal and external. Workers using the app immediately become aware of the social responsibilities of the workplace via the topics in the panels that they see day to day.
  2. Communication with customers and consumers: This communication then extends to corporate customers whose supply chains include the workplace – all the way through to consumers in shops and online. The social score and the diagnostic panels provide significant detail over the matters that everyone cares about – and also provide the actionable data that allows changes to be introduced if things are not right.


The worker voice app and social score are not a substitute for a detailed implementation process of ISO26000. But workplaces that implement the worker app get a significant headstart on the various steps and processes that they need to go through in order to comply with the standard.

As the ISO sets out, the standard is a way of doing business not just a set of standards and rules – and ultimately, that is about defining what is important, and then communicating that to stakeholders (employees, customers, consumers).

How can I find out more?

With a global network and global coverage, talk to us.

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