Primary purpose
Potential benefits
Who can use the tool?
What resources are needed?
Development, ownership and support
Third sector examples
Further sources of information

Primary purpose

The Star Social Firm is a rigorous quality standard designed to enable staff and customers to recognise high quality Social Firms. Social Firms UK believes that a quality standard is an essential part of developing quality businesses that can promote their products and services with confidence.


In developing a verifiable standard for the Social Firm sector, the Star Social Firm aims to:

  • Bring recognition to Social Firms that they are leading edge and genuine Social Firms
  • Provide customers with confidence in that Social Firm through external verification of the scheme
  • Reflect the importance of sustainability that many emerging Social Firms struggle with
  • Provide inspiration to others interested in creating Social Firms
  • raise the profile of Social Firms as good businesses
  • involve a valuable developmental process for the Social Firms in attaining the standard
  • symbolise a level of professionalism to internal and external stakeholders

For customers and potential customers of commercial Social Firm products and services the aim of the standard is that it will reassure them that the Social Firm is:

  • a viable business that has a sound commercial focus
  • a quality-driven, quality-focused, best value supplier
  • a good employer
  • an organisation with high values and ethical purpose
  • an organisation with a positive impact on their community
  • an organisation that could help them meet their own corporate social responsibility targets
  • SFEDI (Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative) is a partner in the standard, working as the ‘standard-setting body’ in providing assurance that the standard has been met through SFEDI trained assessors

Potential benefits

  • Star Social Firm is externally validated and acts as an independent stamp of approval for both prospective staff and potential customers.
  • It can demonstrate accountability through the use of a well-recognised quality system.
  • The Standard offers a recognised benchmark of an organisation’s employee management to external bodies as well as making an internal commitment to its staff.
  • Star Social Firm covers an extensive range of requirements. Awarding of the standard is recognition of good practice for a Social Firm business with good business and management practices.
  • Star Social Firm covers an extensive range of requirements. Awarding of the standard is recognition of good practice for a Social Firm business with good business and management practices.
  • It recognises management systems that support efficient working, more effective planning and more effective monitoring and evaluation systems.

Potential limitations

  • As with other standards such as Investors in People, the Star Social Firm will require time and effort for organisations to attain.
  • It is a quality standard developed for the Social Firm sector, i.e. only one particular type of social enterprise. Whilst the development of the process offers an opportunity for the standard to be adapted to the specific criteria of other social enterprises, it is restricted at present to the Social Firm sector.
  • Star Social Firm is a quality standard designed to reward and acknowledge those genuine Social Firms that meet the criteria. The Star Social Firm is very different from the Third Sector Performance Dashboard, which is a generic performance management tool.

Who can use Star Social Firm?

Any Social Firm that is interested in attaining the quality standard can express their interest via Social Firms UK or SFEDI (Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative, see Members of Social Firms UK are offered free help and support with applications to become a Star Social Firm.

What resources are needed?


Achieving the Star Social Firm requires the support and commitment of all staff and the board of an organisation.

Proficiencies or skills

Assessors, working within the Social Firm sector have been trained to a high standard by SFEDI.

Social Firms who meet the Values-Based Checklist, and have two years’ accounts should consider applying to become a Star Social Firm.

Staff time

Although time will need to be spent ensuring the application questions are fully answered, well run Social Firms will not find the assessment for the Star Social Firm onerous. Assessor visits will be between half and one day depending on the size of the organisation and the number of sites from which it operates.

Courses, support, and information

In obtaining the Star Social Firm, Social Firms UK will offer support to members and will work with them to assist them in deciding whether they are ready to apply.

Development, ownership and support

In developing the Star Social Firm, Full Members of Social Firms UK (i.e. emerging and full Social Firms) were consulted and, through a pilot, were fully involved in the development of the standard. Social Firms UK identified SFEDI as the appropriate standard-setting body to work with on the creation of the standard.

People were recruited from the Social Firm sector to become trained Star Social Firm Assessors and underwent a full training programme with SFEDI.

Third sector examples

Organisations that are Star Social Firms include:

  • ISE
  • Haven Products
  • Pembrokeshire FRAME Limited
  • The Pluss Organisation



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