Developing the Standards

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Having established the Values-Based Checklist, a tool designed to help enterprises meet the Social Firm sector’s values of Enterprise, Empowerment and Employment, it was decided in 2005 that establishing a quality standard should be the next step in building quality into the Social Firm sector. The board and staff of Social Firms UK wanted to ensure that a quality standard could be introduced that would confirm a set of messages about Social Firms, their business sustainability; their products and services and their supportive workplaces – the factors that make Social Firms unique. The opinions of Social Firms UK full members were sought on what they thought of developing a Social Firm Standard. Overall feedback was positive.

The first step was to identify an appropriate standard-setting body. Following several proposals, SFEDI (Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative) was chosen as a partner. A small number of Social Firms met for a day-long focus group which marked the beginning of the process of identifying three areas: the criteria, participants in a pilot and the need for assessors from the Social Firm sector.

Applications were sought from Social Firms interested in taking part in the pilot with a view to becoming one of the first Star Social Firms. Social Firms and emerging Social Firms were also invited to put forward staff interested in becoming SFEDI trained assessors for the Social Firms standard.