Sunday, July 29, 2012

Quality's Role in Social Responsibility

ASQ’s 2011 Future of Quality Study identifies global responsibility as the most significant force in shaping the future of quality.  A total of 1,105 respondents participated in a research study conducted by ASQ in partnership with IBM, which details distinguishing characteristics and metrics that organizations use to lead to successful Social Responsibility programs. ISO 26000 (Social Responsibility) was released in November 2010 but was available in various draft forms for at least two years before the release.

Many people confuse, or at least seem to equate, Social Responsibility (SR) with environmentalism and Sustainability (Green movement, LEEDS certification, etc.).  However, Corporate Social Responsibility has generally focused on governance, responsibility, accountability and transparency; whereas, Sustainability focuses on multiple bottom lines and on the need for systemic changes to protect natural resources. Social Responsibility (SR), then, is ultimately about respect for people and respect for mother Earth.

ISO-26000 emphasizes seven core SR areas: the environment, community involvement & development, organizational governance, fair operating practices, labor practices, human rights and consumer issues. Per the above-mentioned survey, respect for the environment and community involvement tend to be the top two areas of organizational strategic focus.

Paul Borawski, in his latest blog post asks, "How has the standard shaped our dialogue? ... is the world growing more responsive to the needs of being socially responsible?  Is SR mainstream thought, or still in the fringe?" I offer two examples of SR today, one from my employer, 3M Company; the other from the Minnesota Section of ASQ.

3M' s internet website has 1-click links from its homepage directly to its Business Conduct policies and Sustainability efforts. These business conduct policies detail 3M's commitment to integrity and ethics, legal compliance, organizational governance, and respect for dignity and worth of every individual, and the communities in which it operates. 3M's corporate values are stated in a letter from the CEO. These corporate values are consistently and regularly communicated by senior leadership and management:
  • Act with uncompromising honesty and integrity in everything we do
  • Satisfy our customers with innovative technology and superior quality, value and service
  • Provide our investors an attractive return through sustainable, global growth
  • Respect our social and physical environment around the world
  • Value and develop our employees' diverse talents, initiative and leadership
  • Earn the admiration of all those associated with 3M worldwide

3M innovation is guided by three strategic principles that make sustainability implicit in everything it does:
  • Economic Success: We build lasting customer relationships by developing differentiated, practical, and ingenious solutions to their sustainability challenges.
  • Environmental Stewardship: We provide practical solutions and products to address our environmental challenges for ourselves and our customers.
  • Social Responsibility: We engage key stakeholders in dialogue and take action to improve our sustainability performance.
3M introduced its Pollution Prevention Pays initiative - better known as 3P - in 1975. 3P prevents pollution at the source, in products and manufacturing. Back in 1975, that was considered innovative thinking. To date, 3P has resulted in the elimination of more than 3.5 billion pounds of pollution and saved 3M nearly $1.5 billion. More recently, 3M Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS), and Lean Six Sigma - Corporate Quality (LSSQ), have teamed up to drive a lean philosophy (elimination of waste), and Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ) reduction, and are developing a "Zero Landfill Plus" recognition program. (Zero Landfill is increasingly promoted today by environmentally-conscious businesses as a measure of Sustainability, but it is deemed an incomplete measure of sustainability because it can lead to unintended consequences such as increased incineration or simply converting waste into fuel.) 3M's goal is to eliminate the use of solvents and reduce the consumption of natural resources in the design and manufacture of products, thereby protecting our natural resources and ensuring a clean, safe environment for future generations.

Turning to the local section of ASQ, the Minnesota Section (#1203) leadership has included SR in its long range and annual strategic planning  process since I first became involved in the Section back in 2007. Long-term strategic objectives are synthesized and prioritized, then fed into the business execution X-matrix where annual objectives and tactics are developed and project plans implemented. An updated Mission and Vision have been communicated, and are used to validate our new products and services. The MNASQ Executive Board reorganized itself in 2010 to improve organizational governance, responsiveness and agility, and increase member satisfaction. A formal succession planning process has been developed to improve the leadership skills of our member leaders for improved engagement. An Executive Roundtable was designed and delivered to capture the voice of our members' bosses to learn where and how the Section can help them - and their organizations - to succeed. This year the Minnesota Section is working with Habitat for Humanity to partner on a project to build a "House of Quality" in November... World Quality Month! What a great opportunity to demonstrate the intersection of Quality and Social Responsibility!!

1 comment:

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