Lucy Findlay, Social Enterprise Mark CIC #36

"A world in which there is commitment to social enterprise as a means to achieve positive social and environmental change"


The Social Enterprise Mark CIC is the social enterprise accreditation authority, which enables social enterprises through independent accreditation. 

Inspired by the Fairtrade Mark, Lucy Findlay set up the Social Enterprise Mark (SEM) to help social enterprise set themselves apart from other businesses and giving credibility so the public or other businesses buying from them know they are reputable and environmentally or socially conscious. 

One of the key things that the SEM looks for when looking in to accreditation for social enterprises is checking that the majority of their income is through trading (and not grants or loans) and that they have an asset lock or that if they close down nobody benefits personally from this (i.e. shareholders are limited). 

During the assessment process they also help social enterprises articulate their social or environmental impact and determine how they will demonstrate or evidence this. 

The Gold Mark supports those social enterprises who want to be stretched and challenged which focuses on governance & stakeholder involvement; ethics of the business; and their social impact. 

It was fascinating to speak to Lucy because there were things we agreed and disagreed on which made for a really great discussion. She challenged my idealism and helped me recognise the need to root out green-wash which takes place amongst many businesses and well communicated 'good work' when actually shareholder gain is still the priority of the business. 

Her view is that there will always be a place for social enterprises to set higher standards, develop new and alternative business practices, and challenge business to do better for sustainability and society. 

In this episode we discussed:

  • What the Social Entreprise Mark actually is, and how you can apply for it
  • The growth of Universities getting accreditation and recognition as a social enterprise 
  • Positioning of existing businesses as well as supporting new social enterprises
  • The importance of independence 
  • How Government doesn't always know best when it comes to business
  • The importance of measuring and communicating your social impact
  • Charging for your services to ensure sustainability of your service
  • Benefits of having the Social Enterprise Mark
  • Lucy's perspective of the difference between the Social Enterprise Mark and BCorp

Find out more about the Social Enterprise Mark CIC here

Read Lucy's blog here.

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