A Higher Standard: Michelle Bernhart, Head of IABC's Social Responsibility Subcommittee, Talks about the New ISO Initiative

Article excerpt

IABC recently teamed up with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to help develop a future ISO 26000 standard that will provide organizations with guidance for implementing social responsibility programs. An IABC subcommittee led by Michelle Bernhart, principal writer at CDM, a global consulting, engineering, construction and operations firm, has been set up to drive the project. IABC's Archana Verma spoke with Bernhart about this initiative.

AV: How did IABC become involved in the ISO standard development?

MB: After researching the viability of preparing a global standard for social responsibility, ISO began establishing committees globally and inviting experts and key organizations to participate. I got involved with the effort a year ago, and saw a need for the kind of communication expertise that IABC and its membership could provide. IABC leadership was enthusiastic about the opportunity, and we submitted a successful application to ISO for status as a "liaison" organization. Other liaison organizations include the International Labor Organization, the Global Reporting Initiative and the United Nations Global Compact. We then set up an IABC subcommittee under the Advocacy Work Group to provide input to the standard and begin exploring ways to leverage our involvement to the benefit of IABC members.

AV: What are the goals of the subcommittee?

MB: We're focused on three areas: supporting IABC members and chapters with information and resources on social responsibility; continuously improving IABC's own social responsibility performance; and forming partnerships with other global organizations to advance social responsibility worldwide. Of course, IABC's involvement in this project also allows us to promote our profession, which directly supports our broader focus on advocacy and change.

AV: What is the subcommittee currently working on?

MB: In addition to contributing to the ISO standard, we've been evaluating the level and type of social responsibility support we can provide to our chapters and at IABC headquarters. …