Accreditations are programs awarded by independent bodies and government organisations. They represent a seal of approval from said organisation or body, who verify under their expertise and reputation that you have met a set of specific criteria to comply with their accreditation program.
Accreditation is available for any number of different business areas and operational practices — for example, sustainability and environmentalism. By gaining sustainability accreditation, you can tell other organisations, businesses and customers that a trusted and reputable authority has audited your sustainability practice and verified that it meets their standards of operation.
Being accredited means more than people taking you by your word. This way, nobody else has to investigate if you’re telling the truth about how you do business because a reputable authority can speak for you. Accreditations validate promises you make about your business and let others clearly see your values and commitments to better working practice.
What Are the Benefits of Accreditation?
Accreditations offer your business plenty of advantages.
Internal Confidence — Being accredited is more than just a signal to outsiders. It also shows that, yes, you are meeting the standards you thought you were meeting. Failure to meet certain accreditation criteria can also highlight where you need to improve.
Risk Management — Many accreditations are designed around reducing risk factors and future-proofing your operations. They look at where problems could arise and help you understand how prepared you are to deal with them. By gathering accreditations, you are forced to assess and manage risk, which can be an important tool for longevity.
Technical Knowledge and Awareness — To be accredited in an area like GDPR compliance, for example, demonstrates that your business has achieved a robust enough technical knowledge of the regulations to gain accreditation. There are numerous reasons as to why this would be beneficial for your business. Not only is it good for internal operations and understanding what is expected of your business, but it also inspires confidence in others that your business is using an intelligent and forward-thinking strategy to cover itself against potential challenges (such as GDPR compliance issues).
Regulatory Compliance — Almost all industries are seeing ever-increasing demands by regulatory compliance bodies to shore up things like digital data, health and safety protocols, equality policy, modern slavery monitoring and so on. Accreditation helps you both meet these regulatory standards so that you’re on the right side of the law and easily demonstrate that you’re following the rulebook should the law come knocking.
Client/Customer Interest — Accreditations can be essential for winning business. In many industries, like healthcare or construction, being accredited in certain areas is vital for getting work. Without accreditations, you can face an uphill battle to find work and build business relationships. Even if accreditations aren't essential, they definitely help. Being accredited is a powerful trust signal that attracts business opportunities by showing you’re making efforts to provide real value.
Reduced Costs — Accreditations can reduce external costs like business insurance as you can clearly show you’re taking steps to mitigate risk. Many accreditation schemes also come with benefits attached, such as discounts for training and other schemes. We should then consider how accreditation can reduce the chances of failing regulatory standards checks and thus helping to avoid fines. Risk-averse companies with accediations also tend to have smoother operational processes, as accreditations can highlight and remove problems like inefficient practice or repetition. Finally, accreditations make it easier for your company to find and win working contracts or customers, which cuts acquisition costs, lowering operating expenses.
Which Accreditation Does Your Business Need?
The first step is to identify the kind of accreditation or accreditations you need. The new Common Assessment Standard is, by design, the most comprehensive accreditation program available to your business. It covers 12 essential elements of compliance, including anti-bribery, health and safety, corporate responsibility, quality standards, environmental, GDPR and more.
If you’re a business that needs a wide range of accreditations to satisfy regulatory and client demands, then the Common Assessment Standard is an easy choice. If you’re only looking to achieve a singular form of accreditation — say health and safety or GDPR compliance — to meet very specific industry or business requirements, then there are opportunities available for you as well that don’t provide such wide-scale coverage.
A good way to know what you need is to look at the accreditations your top competitors have, as well as talking to clients and customers about what they value/need to connect with your company.
How to Gain Accreditation
To gain accreditation, you need to find an authority capable of providing you with the accreditations you need. These must be trusted bodies with a track record of authenticating businesses through accreditation. L
ook out for scam schemes or accreditations that are not recognised by businesses or customers. You should not just be able to buy accreditation and instead should have to meet strict guidelines and requirements.
Accreditations have no value if people don’t trust or respect their existence.
Once you’ve found an accreditation scheme that meets your business requirements, you must simply follow the steps outlined by the provider to obtain accreditation. This usually involves a questionnaire assessment with supportive documentation. Many accreditation schemes can be completed online. The authoritative body providing the accreditation will review your accreditation submission, advise on any improvements that you must make to obtain accreditation, and then provide a certificate of accreditation (once you’ve met compliance criteria).
You will likely have to review your accreditation annually to ensure you’re maintaining the practices required for accreditation validation and that you’re up-to-date with any changes in regulatory standards that may impact your ability to be accredited.
Your Two-Sentence Summary
Accreditation is a simple yet valuable opportunity for businesses to show their worth, empower growth strategy and reduce operating costs. Don’t miss out on keeping your competitive edge. Make sure you get the accreditation you need.