ISO 14001 - In Everyone's Interest
Environmental management systems (EMS) tend to be insular and defensive in their outlook. The existing EMS standard ISO 14001:2004 and the guidance standard ISO 14004 require little more than the public disclosure of the environmental policy, a procedure to deal with complaints and, possibly, taking stakeholders into account when evaluating the significance of environmental aspects. This results in an EMS that provides incremental operational improvement, but fails to take advantage of wider lifecycle opportunities.
Effective Stakeholder Engagement
Many organisations are already benefiting from stakeholder engagement, however, which is often used to identify what is important to key influencers and to ensure that informed decisions are taken.
British Gypsum, part of the Saint-Gobain group, has used stakeholder engagement successfully at both the corporate and local levels. It has used online surveys to establish the views of employees and customers to develop a more intuitive sustainability strategy.
There are likely to be more examples of positive engagement after the ISO 14001 standard is published in the autumn. It will require organisations to identify their relevant stakeholders and what these groups or individuals require from the EMS. From this information, the organisation can then determine the stakeholder requirements it needs to abide by, such as legislation, and those it chooses to observe, such as a customer objective.
An interested party is defined in 14001:2015 as a person or organisation that can affect, be affected by, or perceive its’ self to be affected by a decision or activity. A person can be a single neighbour, while interested organisations can include community associations, regulators, suppliers and customers.
Interested parties can be internal (as defined by the scope of the EMS), such as employees, trade unions and the senior management team. They may also fall outside of the scope the EMS but within the wider corporate entity; this will avoid situations where the design or procurement functions are ignored because they sit outside the scope of an EMS for a manufacturing site, for example.
An organisation should also be conscious that it is likely to be an interested party to others. For this reason, and in order to be ahead of its customers, an organisation may want to tackle the requirement to identify their relevant stakeholders early in the transition to 14001:2015.
The new standard does not require interested parties to be specifically named; rather, broad groups will suffice. However, additional value may be gained from the exercise where named interested parties are listed.
An organisation should also be conscious that it is likely to be an interested party to others. For this reason, and in order to be ahead of its customers, an organisation may want to tackle the requirement to identify their relevant stakeholders early in the transition to ISO 14001:2015.
Get the ‘know how’ for managing all new requirements of ISO 14001:2015.