Social Enterprise Day – celebrating our commitment to the people, communities and businesses we serve
- Tuesday, November 15, 2022
- Posted By The Growth Company
Blog Post from Matt Richardson - Social Value Lead at The Growth Company
Social Enterprise Day (Thursday 17th November) is part of Global Entrepreneurship Week - a celebration of organisations who serve their communities and their many needs with focus and dedication. It not only focuses on companies that are ‘not-for-profit’, but also those who approach their position within society with responsibility and with the interest of promoting its success and growth.
It’s the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate our achievements within the sector, reflecting on the hard work and dedication of our teams who have not only helped us achieve the Social Enterprise Mark in 2021, but further cementing our position as a leading social enterprise with the 'Gold' Social Enterprise Mark in June 2022.
In addition, the Group was also nominated for UK Social Enterprise award, reinforcing our reputation as a trusted organisation which continues to make a positive difference to the people we work with and the communities in which we deliver.
Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is addressing a social or environmental challenge, rather than creating profit for owners or shareholders. They bring together the entrepreneurial skills of the private sector and the values of public service. They deliver positive social impact through how they conduct their work and what they achieve.
Social Enterprise isn’t something new and can be traced back to as early as the 1840s* where a co-operative set up a service which provided high quality, affordable food in response to the exploitative factory conditions. However, its role within society has evolved and continues to do so as social enterprise is influenced by both economic hardship and prosperity, as well as changes across the technical and political landscape. Today there are around 100,000 social enterprises in the UK which contribute £60bn to our UK economy - each one being set up to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face, from homelessness, climate emergency, and more recently the cost of living.
Social enterprises like ours exists to drive forward business, economic, personal and professional development within communities by boosting employment, skills, investment and enterprise for the benefit of all.
Over the course of the pandemic, social enterprises have been going above and beyond to support their teams, the individuals, and communities they work with. Like many other organisations, we’ve operated directly on the frontline of the crisis, reacting to a changing socio-economic climate - launching new products and adapting our business offer and ways of working to meet the changing needs of our communities.
Take for example the evolution of our Hospitality and Tourism Talent Hub supported by Marketing Manchester and Manchester Hoteliers Association. Initially established in 2019 as a result of Brexit, and the significant staffing and skills shortages faced by the sector, the service pivoted its support offer to reflect the unprecedented landscape the national lockdown posed. By providing access to a whole range of support programmes - from skills development and training to entry level support and recruitment as the industry returned – the Talent Hub made it easy for employers to access support.
Another great example of our ability to react and support our communities is the launch of our Here For Business campaign. Led by our colleagues in GC Business Growth Hub, with various partners, the initiative aims to support businesses with practical solutions to navigate the cost of living crisis which is impacting their ability to trade and continue to deliver services.
Achieving the Social Enterprise Mark, and more recently being awarded the ‘Gold’ Social Enterprise Mark isn’t something that can be achieved over night. This was no mean feat for an organisation of our size and complexity. It took a robust group-wide team effort to bring together the evidence we needed to share to achieve the required standard of social enterprise best practice.
The ‘Gold’ Social Enterprise Mark shows that we demonstrate best practices across several key business areas that are central to social enterprise excellence. This includes areas such as governance, stakeholder engagement, business ethics, financial transparency and social impact. Our assessment for the Gold Mark award involved submitting a range of evidence that outlined how we met set criteria. Colleagues from across our organisation were involved in pulling this together and making it happen, by completing surveys and taking part in independently-conducted interviews.
As an organisation, we’re proud to be driven by our values, and will continue to operate with a positive impact on the world we live in. It’s these values which underpin our ability to achieve our social enterprise accreditation in a transparent and meaningful way. They’re defined with the aim of establishing shared attitudes and behaviours that will help us be more successful and make GC a great place to work and ensure we sustain and role model our accredited social enterprise status.
The feedback we received in our accreditation report praised the business for ‘practicing what it preaches’ and for having Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the heart of its service delivery. Lucy Findlay MBE - Managing Director of the Social Enterprise Mark CIC, told us:
“We are so pleased that The Growth Company – our first group to apply and be awarded the Social Enterprise Gold Mark, have proved their excellence in social enterprise. We were particularly impressed at how the central values and ethos of the business are consistent throughout the various businesses at all levels.
“There is a real coherence and understanding of how everyone plays their part in achieving a better world. A real model for how social enterprise can successfully scale without losing its identity and purpose.”
You can find out more information about social enterprise and accreditation by visiting the Social Enterprise Mark CIC website. They are the international body for recognised standards of social enterprise accreditation through independent, sector-led, robust assessments that inform strategy, deliver benefits and add value to Mark Holder organisations.