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10 Years of the Social Enterprise Mark

3rd March 2020

Cosmic are proud to celebrate, alongside many others, as we hail the 10th anniversary of the Social Enterprise Mark. 

As mark holder Number 1 this is a very meaningful milestone for both Cosmic and the organisation, as we acknowledge fantastic growth and success of the accreditation.
Social Enterprise Mark CIC is the international social enterprise accreditation authority, which recognises and builds the capabilities of social enterprises as competitive, sustainable businesses, dedicated to maximising social impact.

The organisation is the only social enterprise accreditation body to operate as a social enterprise.
Their world-first accreditations ensure that the business model remains ethical, credible and commercial. The Social Enterprise Mark (SEM) provides clear standards for the social enterprise sector, which is unregulated, defining what it means to be a genuine social enterprise.

For Cosmic, this anniversary means an awful lot, with our Joint CEO, Julie Hawker, being instrumental in the creation of the SEM over a decade ago. We wear the badge with real pride, and we benefit from accreditation and regulation on a daily basis.

To mark the milestone, Julie was invited to join in celebrations in London on Monday 2nd March, giving a presentation to an audience of other ambassadors for the Mark. She was also joined by Cosmic’s Chairman, Mark Cotton – another great supported and advocate for Social Enterprise. In her presentation, Julie reflects on the last 10 years and how the SEM has supported Cosmic on its own journey:

"Cosmic is very proud of its involvement and support for SEM, which began in the pilot phase down in the South West. As Chair of RISE at that time, I was working very closely with Lucy Findlay MBE (SEM Managing Director) and the team and heavily involved in the development and roll-out of the pilot phase and the successful engagement with many of the South West’s leading social enterprises.

Cosmic was Number 1 SEM holder and very proud to lead the promotion and engagement of other social enterprises. We were very quickly able to use SEM in our marketing and promotional work and it swiftly became part of our ‘toolkit’ for engagement with clients, partner organisations. People began to view the Mark as credibility and evidence for our claims on social impact. And throughout the past 10 years we’ve been able to build SEM into marketing work and presentations on a regular basis to ensure the messages about social enterprise continue to expand and increase.

I recall an instance early-on in the journey of the Mark, and whilst testing my own approach to its use I found myself on a stage presenting to an audience of business leaders, mainly in the private sector, and used the Mark as an example. The reception was luke-warm at best, and afterwards I spoke with some of the people in the room over coffee, inviting further feedback. I was told in no uncertain terms that “all that hippy stuff” had no place in a business conference...

Roll forwards 8 years and I found myself in similar event presenting again to a similar audience (i.e. many of the same faces!) and I came armed this time. I had the SEM website to display, I had copies of Cosmic’s Social Impact report, and I had a new confidence based on how many large private sector businesses have been drawn towards social impact and social value. And so this time, the audience was genuine in its interest and applauded my call for more social enterprises in supply chains, in start-ups and in partnerships with private sector business. The very same person who had been heavily negative in 2003 was now a keen advocate and apologised for his earlier comment (I couldn’t resist reminding him!).

In 2020 Cosmic launches its new strategy – People, Planet, Profit – reinforcing our commitment to the social enterprise model and emphasising throughout our strategic plan that we will continue to deliver social and environmental impact and influence in all that we do. Social Enterprise Mark will continue to play a key role in delivering effectively to that plan.
So well-done team SEM! It’s been a great 10 years for Cosmic and the Mark has helped with the clarity and evidence we need to provide around social impact. Thank you."

Happy Birthday to the Social Enterprise Mark! We hope all the team enjoy the celebrations.

Find out more about the Mark here: www.socialenterprisemark.org.uk