Social enterprises are making great strides in reporting on their positive impacts
11 January 2019
Insights from PwC’s Building Public Trust Award 2018 for Impact in Social Enterprise, by Laura Hinton, PwC Chief People Officer and Executive Board member
Social enterprises are businesses whose core purpose is to help tackle the major challenges we face as a society. They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market, but reinvest the resulting profits back into the business or the local community.
While all of this is familiar, what’s less widely appreciated is the sheer size of this fast-growing sector. Government statistics now identify around 70,000 social enterprises in the UK, contributing some £24 billion to the economy and employing nearly a million people.
What’s more, social enterprise is one of the most dynamic, inclusive and diverse parts of the UK business landscape. These qualities apply equally to their leadership teams, the people they employ, and how and where they operate.
The diversity of social enterprises is underlined by the fact that there is no single regulator for the sector, as there is with charities for example. Rather, what unites them is their adoption of a set of operational principles, such as those defined by their national trade body, Social Enterprise UK.
PwC is closely involved with social enterprises through initiatives including the PwC Social Entrepreneurs Club, a UK-wide network of over 250 social enterprises. In 2017, we featured the PwC Social Entrepreneurs Club Awards at the Building Public Trust lunch. For 2018, we’ve gone a step further, creating a new Building Public Trust Awards category that recognises social enterprises demonstrating a positive social or environmental impact.
Self-nomination for the award was open to members of the PwC Social Entrepreneurs Club. The applicants were assessed based on criteria including demonstrating a positive social impact in line with their mission and objectives, thorough measurement and evaluation, and clear communication of their objectives and impacts underpinned by good quantitative and qualitative evidence.
The independent judging panel felt all three shortlisted social enterprises had put in a very creditable performance against these criteria. They eventually chose Belu Water - the largest and most established of the three nominees as the winner – but stressed that the others had also excelled, and that smaller, newer or more regionally-focused social enterprises should not be deterred from putting themselves forward for the award in the future.
To read more about out what the leaders in impact in social enterprise are doing right, please click through to read the judges’ comments. And if you’d like feedback on how your social enterprise scored in the assessment, please send an email to [email protected]