Social Enterprise Mark Certification Panel


Applications for the Social Enterprise Mark and the Social Enterprise Gold Mark are overseen by an independent Certification Panel.

The Certification Panel ensures that the Social Enterprise Mark’s criteria are rigorously applied.  The Panel sets precedents in complex applications, for example:

  • where social aims or beneficiaries need clarification
  • where there may be questions over share dividends
  • where there is a multifaceted application from a group of companies.

The Panel also performs regular spot-checks on applications to ensure the level of assessment remains high.

To protect the integrity of the social enterprise criteria, the Panel is voluntary and works according to a Memorandum of Understanding. To accurately reflect the macro- and micro-environment in which social enterprises operate, the Panel is made up of representatives from business, legal and social enterprise experts.


Social Enterprise Mark CIC Certification Panel

Social Enterprise Gold Mark

The Certification Panel oversees the assessment for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark. The Social Enterprise Gold Mark is a continuous assessment involving additional criteria and evidence of a Social Enterprise Mark Holder’s social and business credentials.

It measures and sets benchmarks for businesses to help them progress towards excellence by examining their governance, ethical business practice, social and environmental impact, and financial transparency. These are points currently not covered by the Social Enterprise Mark.


Meet the Panel

John BryantJohn Bryant – Head of Integration and Development, Torbay Council and Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust 

After a successful career in the private sector including start-up companies, turn-around organisations and a stock market flotation, he joined the public sector to drive forwards integrated care with the aim of addressing health inequalities for local populations and reducing system variance experienced first hand by his family.

In addition to his NHS organisation, he continues to support other local authorities and clinical commissioning groups with their integration agenda together with market shaping for improved provider value, system design and service innovation.  Working closely with the third and community sector he has been involved with a series of collaborative developments for care initiatives within the community.


James EvansJames Evans – Partner, Tozers LLP

James is a partner at law firm Tozers LLP and specialises in charity and company law. He works as part of the firm’s highly regarded charity law team.

He has over 20 years’ experience of advising social sector organisations on issues such as legal structures, governance and constitutional issues, fundraising and trading matters, and also in relation to corporate transactions such as mergers, joint ventures and other collaborative working arrangements, acquisitions and disposals.

James has recently advised on several significant charity mergers, collaborations and restructurings, and academy school conversions and re-brokerings, and has helped establish numerous new charities and social enterprises for a wide range of clients.


Nicky StevensonNicky Stevenson – Social Enterprise/Business Advisor

Nicky Stevenson has worked in the social enterprise sector for over 20 years.  She has been a business adviser in a co-operative development agency and with The Guild, a well-established social enterprise consultancy. She is an Associate Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University and a board member of Social Enterprise East of England. She previously worked for Charity Bank, a Social Enterprise Mark holder.

She specialises in social impact measurement and has co-written a number of tools to help small organisations measure their impact and she is a trained Social Return on Investment practitioner with full approved advisor status and is a member of the SROI network.

Nicky has a long background with the Social Enterprise Mark CIC, as she was commissioned to design the original application criteria and piloted the assessment process.  In 2015 her book (with Helen Fitzhugh) ‘Inside Social Enterprise’ was published by Policy Press.


Sarah StevensonSarah Stevenson – Enterprise & Employability Manager, Plymouth Marjon University

Sarah Stevenson worked in social enterprise in the South West for over 10 years in a range of areas, before moving into the Higher Education  sector to support students in developing their social enterprise skills.

Currently, Sarah leads the Careers and Employability team at Plymouth Marjon University. Sarah’s research interests are focused on social entrepreneurship and gender and she is a member of the Board of the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network.


David ButlerDavid Butler – Audit Partner, Bishop Fleming

David is a Chartered Accountant with 20 years experience, specialising in both owner managed businesses and not for profits. He is an audit and advisory partner in Bishop Fleming’s Bristol office.

David heads up Bishop Fleming‘s charity and not for profit team, setting its strategic direction and working closely with clients to ensure that the service provided is relevant to their needs. David has worked with charities for nearly 15 years and across a wide range of sectors, including independent schools. He is a regular speaker at charity events and writes articles on sector issues.


Gareth HartGareth Hart – Co-Founder of Iridescent Ideas

Gareth is the co-founder of Iridescent Ideas CIC – a social enterprise providing business advice. Gareth led the bid that saw Plymouth recognised as the first Social Enterprise City in the UK and has been a champion of social enterprise in Plymouth and the South West.

He has worked at a strategic level with national organisations and at a grass-roots level providing business support for social enterprises on a diverse range of subjects such as start-up, growth, finance and social impact.

Gareth is currently the chair of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network and co-chairs the Heart of the South West LEP Social Enterprise Group. Gareth has written numerous articles and blogs on social enterprise themes for magazines, newspapers and journals such as The Guardian, Third Sector Magazine and local media.