Friday, July 20, 2012

Quality and SR

ASQ CEO Paul Borawski discusses the intersection of quality and social responsibility in his blog this month. He makes the case thatm like quality, companies can learn to implement SR and save money and increase the benefit to society. He challenges quality professionals to explain what they are doing to expand SR or, if they are not, why not. I'm sad to say that I am in the "not" category at this time. Here's why:

For better or for worse the market is not demanding SR. Quality faced the same challenges 30+ years ago but then people found it valuable and demanded it. Today, quality is required to get your foot in the door in any industry. Environmental concerns also faced the same challenges years ago and the ISO14001 standard was created. This standard was rolled out and in some industries (e.g. automotive) many customers require it. Since customers required it, and indirectly paid for it, it happened. Today SR and the related standard ISO26000 are on people's minds in quality and some organizations but not in the general market. In fact, the ASQ/IBM report mentioned in Paul's blog states that many companies don't see the value in SR; the report states that this may be due to organizations not knowing how to measure its value (p. 22). I think that they don't try to measure it because they don't see the value, not the other way around. They need some kind of external motivation (e.g. consumer, customer, government) to motivate them to develop ways to measure the value, if it's possible.

Rather than finding ways to measure something to then make it appetizing to companies, let's educate our friends and families to create that demand in the general market. When consumers start to demand SR it will force companies to implement it and down to their suppliers, just like quality and environmental requirements before now. Only the market can show the true value of SR to organizations. Only the market can demand it and make it happen.