ASQ seeks utility experts to create global social responsibility standard

In the wake of recent and ongoing corporate scandals, environmental disasters, child labor violations, and dangerous work environments, the American Society for Quality, the world's leading authority on quality and an expert in standards development, yesterday invited utility experts to join a new team, the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on social responsibility...

MILWAUKEE, March 16, 2006 -- In the wake of recent and ongoing corporate scandals, environmental disasters, child labor violations, and dangerous work environments, the American Society for Quality, the world's leading authority on quality and an expert in standards development, yesterday invited utility experts to join a new team, the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on social responsibility.

This team, consisting of experts from a variety of organizations from the public and private sectors, will help create a voluntary standard which will provide guiding principles and direction for those companies that recognize the strong connection between results and responsibility. It's a standard that's much needed, according to a new poll of Fortune 500 companies by the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

The ASQ poll reveals that even though most business leaders think corporate ethical behavior will greatly impact the nation's economic future, more than 40% still don't have a policy in place to guide their company's actions. The poll also found:
• 67% of business leaders say the number one reason they would implement a social responsibility policy would be to maintain their brand image. This is followed closely by enhancing employee morale and reducing legal liability.
• The "Enron Effect" may be at work, as 70% of companies that in the poll said they implemented a social responsibility policy, did so in 2001 or later – timing that followed the publicity surrounding the Enron scandal.

Participation in the U.S. TAG on social responsibility provides an excellent opportunity for utility experts to demonstrate their interest in and/or commitment to social responsibility. Involvement will include a limited number of meetings throughout the year as well as reviewing proposals and working documents and voting by e-mail.

ASQ was selected by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the official United States member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to create and administer the TAG.

"With no industry standard currently in place, this panel will be instrumental in molding a historic document," said Paul Borawski, Executive Director of the American Society for Quality.

"It's clear that the choices we make today to ensure a more ethical work and living environment will certainly have a major impact tomorrow. There could not be a more timely opportunity for utilities to join the team and make their voices heard about the issue of social responsibility."

The international standard is targeted for publication during the fourth quarter of 2008. Businesses interested in shaping the U.S. position on the standard or who would like more information should contact ASQ's Standards Team at standards@asq.org or visit the ASQ website www.asq.org/social-responsibility.

The American Society for Quality (www.asq.org) has been a leading global authority on quality for 60 years. With over 90,000 individual and organizational members, the professional association advances learning, quality improvement, and knowledge exchange to improve business results, and to create better workplaces and communities worldwide. As champion of the quality movement, ASQ offers technologies, concepts, tools, and training to quality professionals, quality practitioners, and everyday consumers, encouraging all to Make Good Great TM. ASQ has been the sole administrator of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award since 1991. Based in Milwaukee, WI, the 60-year-old organization is a founding partner of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a prominent quarterly economic indicator, and also produces the Quarterly Quality Report.

Poll Methodology: In February 2006 the American Society for Quality conducted a telephone and e-mail poll of 100 business leaders from Fortune 500 companies. The poll was designed to gauge the importance of social responsibility policies within U.S. companies.

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