Governance problems in social enterprise, identified by a former director, can cause failure – but this can be avoided by adopting the social business model used by Recycling Lives.
Social enterprises are underpinned by good intentions but may fail because of a culture of inadequate governance that stems from a lack of criticism of its practices, argues a former social enterprise director. Regulatory bodies are insufficiently strict, and, given that it can be difficult for local authorities to decommission inadequate services, social enterprises may be at the helm of services for which they are ill-prepared to provide.
A social enterprise is, by nature, different from other businesses. Whilst undoubtedly committed to equality and diversity, some social enterprises may still share the problems faced in other organisation. These include bullying, discrimination, and prejudiced corporate practices that run counter to the competency and improvement essential for good governance.
In order to thrive, a social enterprise needs to look beyond its current governance characteristics, driven by process and compliance, which focus on the presence of a Chief Executive and self-assessment of the workforce’s skill set. Instead, they should look at improving from the foundations rather than merely modifying elements; changing from within by tackling problems at the root, rather than expecting others to change. They should also address problems without hesitation, rather than delaying the process.
This is not to say, of course, that social enterprises run with intelligent leadership, characterised by positive qualities, do not exist. Good governance is widely found in the third sector, and is a feature of another way of operating public services: the social business model.
The Recycling Lives social welfare charity is supported by the commercial activities of the Recycling Lives social business, a thriving company with several decades’ experience in waste management. Under the guidance of Steve Jackson OBE, Chief Executive, the organisation has grown rapidly during the past few years; a testament to its management committee’s close eye on the bottom line.
The fact that it is a social business means, of course, that Recycling Lives is not focused solely on making a profit. The charity works with vulnerable people who have experienced homelessness or have been at risk of homelessness, and supports them in finding accommodation and employment. The work they do is in primarily in recycling and waste management, with the Recycling Lives social business, or one of its partner organisations, all of which benefit the community.
Recycling Lives has a strong commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, with robust policies and procedures in place to ensure accountability. Its refusal to tolerate discrimination and bullying is fundamental to the charitable side of its operations, where respect and understanding for others are key concepts. We do not just comply with regulations; we look for innovative ways in which we can lead the improvement of the whole waste management sector.