As a CIC that provides accreditation services to other community and voluntary groups (including other CICs), I must say that we feel quite strongly about this.
When working for ILCM we spent a lot of time and money achieving ISO 9001:2008 for them - multiple kite marks would not have been entertained unless they could have demonstrably added value (we looked at the SE Mark but couldn't make a cost-benefit case for it at that time).
We developed the ILCM Capability Mark for our ILCM clients and had got over 150 smaller VCOs certificated -- but we NEVER told clients that they should have our mark in preference to another kite mark. This was part of the code of practice within the client's certification system.
We always told them that they should think carefully about what they are trying to do and what will best fit them, for example whether a more generic mark (such as a quality mark) or a product specific mark (e.g. relating to training or youth work) would be more useful or more marketable for them.
When statutory sector clients say that they want to *compel* organisations to have our mark before they can apply for contracts or grants we always tell them we feel this is inappropriate and talk them out of it. We tell them:
(1) Kite Marks should powerfully add value: to those that hold them and to their clients,
(2) Kite Marks should not impose an unnecessary or unreasonable burden or overhead,
(3) Kite Marks should not create artificial barriers with any given market for services or stifle new entrants or innovative solutions,
(4) Kite Marks should provide a relevant benchmark for the activity of that organisation,
(5) Kite Marks should be awarded on the basis of independent assessment AND independent quality assurance of those assessments.
There needs to be a wider appreciation of the value that kite marks can add, but also that what is the right kite mark for one organisation may be completely unhelpful and inappropriate for another.
The Social Enterprise Mark CAN add value where social entrprises are competing head-on or there is a need to level the playing field with private sector competitors, but where an organisation needs to demonstrate more specific credentials, the SE Mark may not be so useful and other certifications will be required.
Senior Executive Officer, Community Leaders CIC
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