Three UK Higher Education Institutions have become the latest organisations to be awarded the prestigious Social Enterprise Gold Mark, in recognition of their social enterprise excellence.
Plymouth College of Art, The University of Northampton and the University of Winchester join a growing network of gold standard social enterprises, which have proven their commitment to creating lasting positive impact on people and planet, through their trading operations.
Following a rigorous assessment process, the Social Enterprise Gold Mark awards were presented at our annual conference in Winchester on Monday 5th June. The awards were presented by James Evans, who is a member of the independent Certification Panel, which upholds the rigour of the assessment process and oversees the process of applications and assessments. The panel has the final decision on all applications for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark.
The Social Enterprise Gold Mark offers enhanced accreditation to social enterprises wishing to demonstrate their excellence, assessing three essential areas of business operations:
- Governance – stakeholder representation in strategy and operation
- Business ethics – complaints handling, diversity, equality, pay, workplace issues and social auditing
- Social impact and financial transparency – how income and profits are used to create added social and environmental impact
The accreditation focuses on measuring what makes a social enterprise excellent, and how they can continue to improve their impact. Successful applicants receive an individually tailored action plan for continuous improvement, in line with guidelines of best practice.
Professor Andrew Brewerton, Plymouth College of Art’s Principal and Chief Executive said: “Creative learning is transformational: in terms of individual lives, the life of our community and its prosperity within the UK’s world-leading creative economy. The work of our staff and students at Plymouth College of Art and at The Red House, home to Plymouth School of Creative Arts, is deeply embedded in our community, and we feel honoured and delighted that this commitment over many years has been recognised with the Social Enterprise Gold Mark. This is in truth an acknowledgement of our community as a whole, and everybody across our networks of social engagement in Plymouth as a Social Enterprise City.”
Wray Irwin, Head of University Centre for Employability and Engagement at The University of Northampton, said: “Northampton leads the charge when it comes to learning that makes an impact on society. Our whole way of working reflects this; making a difference is in our DNA. Receiving professional recognition for this is great news, but the Social Enterprise Gold Mark in particular is testament to the dedication at Northampton, from students and staff alike to ‘do good things’ in the world beyond university. It goes without saying that the award really belongs to all of them. We all look forward to continuing on this path in the months and years ahead.”
Professor Joy Carter, Vice Chancellor at The University of Winchester, said: “As a values-driven university, all we do is closely aligned to the Social Enterprise Gold Mark priorities. From divesting our fossil fuel linked investments, our pioneering work with care leavers and others who are underrepresented in higher education, through to our world-leading research in peace and reconciliation, we are a university driven by a passion to make a difference. Big ideas, growing flourishing people and communities, being the difference for a better world. So we are delighted to have the Social Enterprise Gold Mark to help us both communicate our unique focus and priorities, as well as to be continuously challenged.”
Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, added: “We are delighted to welcome these organisations to our expanding network of ‘gold standard’ social enterprises. We have seen an increasing interest from the Higher Education sector over the last 12 months, which is an encouraging development, as it symbolises a commitment to creating social change, for which such institutions have a huge potential scope to achieve.”