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ISO 26000: NORMAPME User Guide for European SMEs available

NORMAPME has produced an SME User Guide on ISO 26000 Guidance on Social responsibility. This user guide will serve to breakdown and interpret the parts of ISO 26000 that are relevant for European SMEs.

Guidance on social responsibility, not a standard

ISO 26000 Guidance on Social responsibility was officially launched by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) on November 1st 2010. It is a guidance paper, not a standard, meaning that it is not intended to be used for certification purposes or in contracts.

However, ISO 26000 is a first international attempt to harmonise the socially responsible behaviour of enterprises. Over 400 experts from all over the globe have worked for six years on the document that aims to offer guidance on social responsibility to all types and sizes of organisations.

NORMAPME, as the representative of European SMEs, participated throughout this process. While progress was made in reducing the document's length and complexity, the final document remains lacking in its relevance for SMEs.

A butcher is not a chemical factory

NORMAPME objected that socially responsible behaviour depends very much on the culture and society in which the enterprise operates. Moreover, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) does not apply equally to all types of enterprises. For example, a butcher does not have the same impact on environment as a chemical factory. NORMAPME has repeatedly expressed that CSR cannot be entirely standardised. A significant margin of interpretation should be allowed for depending on the type of organisation and the culture and country in which it operates.

For these reasons NORMAPME decided that it was useful to develop a specific guidance document for European SMEs. The user guide has been developed over the course of the past year by a Working Group of European CSR experts nominated by SME representative associations. Its objective is to help SMEs breakdown the relevant aspects of this guidance standard for their purposes, thus easing the utility and uptake of this guidance standard for European SMEs.

The SME user guide is available in six languages (EN, DE, FR, ES, IT, PL) to download from the NORMAPME webpage on Corporate Social Responsability

An official launch of the user guide will take place in October 2011. Further details will follow.

For further information please contact Mr Sebastiano Toffaletti at


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