Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Are we Socially Responsible

In this month's A View from the Q Paul Borawski discusses Social Responsibility and its link to Quality.

I think Social Responsibility (SR), without a name, has been in our minds and behaviors for longer than we know. Let's look at some events I recall from over the past 30 years just to see...do these fit under the SR umbrella? -
  • Unleaded gasoline
  • 'Give a hoot, don't pollute'; and who remembers that Native American with the tear in his eye and the trash at his feel
  • Newspaper recycling - in high school we used to raise money for school events through paper drives
  • Bottle recycling - hey I get money back if I collect my bottles and plastic containers then carry them back to the store!
  • Carpooling
  • New York State Clean Air Act (I'm sure there are others like this but I am a New Yorker)
  • McDonalds eliminates styrofoam containers and switches to paper
  • Hybrid and Electric cars
Quality professionals have worked toward continual improvement for many, many years. Like most quality and business initiatives over the years Social Responsibility was an initiative without a title. For instance how many organizations undertook scrap reduction, cycle time reduction or waste elimination (time and material) before Lean, Six Sigma or SR? More than I can count!

I've been an ASQ member for more than 20 years and have been aware of the ASQ Code of Ethics since my first days as a member. So, I ask, is Ethical Behavior a new element for Quality Professionals? I say no, we've lived under such a code for as long as I can remember.

Quality professionals have discussed responsibility and accountability for decades. This, too, is a principal of SR. Nothing new to us...

My belief is the Quality Professionals have lived under a code of Social Responsibility for many years. Now that the International Organization for Standardization had placed a number and name to a set of principles does not make our position any different. It is now just documented for others to see and read. Like the introduction of ISO 9000, Six Sigma, Lean, etc., ISO 26000 takes the practice off the production floor and puts it smack in the middle of the Board Room for greater attention at the highest levels within the organization.

Okay, I've read through what I wrote above and I hear a certain cynicism in my 'voice'. I don't mean to be cynical here. I truly believe that these initiatives must receive the highest level of attention within the organization and by placing the support of a Standard behind the initiative there is greater success at achieving the goals. Isn't that what we are all about?

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