O2 helps set new standard for business

PeterHolbrook, CEO of the Social Enterprise Coalition and chair of the Social Enterprise Mark Company said: ‘It’s great that O2 have committed to understanding and championing social enterprise, and we welcome their support. We hope that other influential corporations follow suit and support the Social Enterprise Mark as a key tool in recognizing businesses working for social and environmental good.’

O2’s support for the Mark comes at a time when social enterprise continues to grow into an ever more dynamic business sector, with recent data (State of Social Enterprise Survey, Social Enterprise Coalition 2009) showing that despite the recession, social enterprises are twice as confident of future growth thantypical small to medium enterprises (48% of social enterprises as opposed to 24%).

O2 launch their commitment to social enterprise by taking part at the Voice conference, and hosting a meeting with several high profile Cabinet Office backed Social Enterprise Ambassadors, and will continue to work with the Ambassadors in 2010 to develop a meaningful package of support across 3 main areas:

Broad consultation to develop a bespoke Social Enterprise business package that best meets the needs of the Social Enterprise sector.

To commence an internal campaign of awareness and understanding of Social Enterprise amongst all 12,000 of O2’s UK wide staff, from the board directors to the call centre teams.

To use O2’s numerous communications channels to provide the mainstream awareness Social Enterprise needs, from the O2 website to a new Social Enterprise category within the O2 X awards.

Having been instrumental in the formation of celebrated social enterprise One Water, O2’s Head of Small Business Marketing Simon Devonshire is passionate about raising awareness of the sector to as wide an audience as possible.

He said: ‘People are actively looking for brands, products and businesses that genuinely make a positive difference. At the same time, businesses are increasingly being viewed as a powerful form of self-expression, so unsurprisingly people are turning their passions into businesses.

More small businesses do business with O2 than any other network and we want to encourage more like-minded people to pursue their passion by showcasing the success of existing Social Enterprises communication channels.’

Sam Conniff, Social Enterprise Ambassador and Co Founder of Livity, a social enterprise and marketing agency said: ‘In the coming years, the emphasis will be on business to play an increasingly proactive role in delivering on society’s needs. Social Enterprises are ahead of the curve, and those services, like O2, that recognise their valuable role and meet their needs, will be well placed.’

Social enterprises are businesses that place social or environmental objectives equal to their financial ones. There are estimated to be 62,000 Social Enterprises in the UK, employing around 800,000 people and contributing £24 billion to the economy

The Social Enterprise Mark will be awarded to businesses who meet specific criteria that demonstrate they are working primarily for social and/or environmental goals, that generate the majority of their own income through trading and not grants, and that 50% of their profits are reinvested towards those goals. It will be administered by a joint venture set up between the Social Enterprise Coalition, the national body for social enterprise, and RISE, the social enterprise regional network for the South West. For more information please visit www.socialenterprisemark.org.uk.