Chris Barrow has seen me at my best. And probably my very worst. Specifically, when we were halfway up the frozen scree slope of Mount Kilimanjaro, around 3am on a cold August morning in 2011.
Chris, his wife Annie, myself and 22 others were on a fundraising climb for Bridge2Aid, the dental health charity I ran for 12 years in East Africa.
That climb was probably the toughest thing I – we – had ever done. But Chris and the team helped push me through that 3am barrier and, ultimately, I had one of the most rewarding moments of my life as we summited Kilimanjaro six hours later.
It’s at times like these that people share a sense of common purpose– that drivetowards a higher goal, which cements strong bonds and gives us the kind of extra fulfilment we all crave but can be hard to findinour day-to-day work.
Having worked across the charitable and business sector for more than 20 years, time and again I’ve seen the huge benefit that getting involved with charity challenges and fundraising has on people. It connects them to that sense of purpose I mentioned above and to making them feel they are making a difference. I think it’s something we all have deep down inside us.
Building social responsibility
Over 10 years ago, this interest first sparked my interest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and specifically how positive it can be in the dental profession and industry.
CSR is about volunteering, supporting good governance, engaging in the community, and working for the benefit of the wider environment. And there’s a ton of good reasons for doing it – not least that, if done well, there is good evidence to show that a properly executed CSR strategy contributes to business growth, delivers positive PR, and helps keep your team engaged, motivated and loyal.
Former owner of the Chipping Manor Dental Practices in Gloucestershire, Shaenna Loughnane (now CEO of Bridge2Aid), says there were definite business benefits once they’d undertaken positive CSR-related activities.
“We grew to be a practice with around double the amount of patients to the size of the town, so something attracted new people to us,” she explains.“It also enabled us to gain huge amounts of positive PR –both word of mouth, and in the local press. Our staff turnover has been lower than average, too. Not only does this make for a more stable team, it also helps the bottom line. The staff receive benefits that don’t just show up on their pay slip, and that in turn helps the business. I truly believe that without CSR being at the heart of all that we did, the business wouldn’t have grown as quickly, and as positively as it did. The shared sense of purpose, vision, and care for their fellow human beings brought the team together in ways we couldn’t have imagined, and brought the practice right into the heart of our community.”
Uniting around clear goals
Although Chipping Manor has a fully integrated CSR strategy and a range of activities, a smaller scale approach can also achieve results, as Nigel Jones, Sales and Marketing Director at Practice Plan, explains:
“It doesn’t have to be that extreme for there to be a definite improvement in collaboration and communication that seems to come about through shared experiences and the opportunity to get to know each other better.
“Simple things like having a very clear and immediate common goal unites people.”
Over the past 23 years, I have worked with charities and businesses in the UK, US, Africa and Australia, and through this gained wide experience in designing, implementing and developing successfulCSR programmes.
My 13 years in dentistry have given me a unique understanding of the challenges practices face and how to achieve results through CSR.
So whether you have a practice with an accomplished CSR and charity activity and want to do better – or if this is a completely new concept –I can help.
How good your CSR is will have an impact on your business. And it’ll have a knock-on impact with your team and your community, too. With a structured approach, we can make sure that’s a positive impact for all concerned.
I’m currently offering a free PDF download introduction to CSR and what it can do for your practice. Simply head over to my website and sign up for updates. In return you’ll receive my PDF download to give you some useful starters.
From there I have a range of options that can be tailored direct for you:
• from bespoke assessment and recommendations
• through to tailored programmes and ongoing consultancy
• plus a practical online course …
… to work directly with you and your team. Why not get in touch?
Over the past 23 years, Mark Topley has worked with charities and businesses on four continents, running the dental health charity Bridge2Aid and gaining wide experience designing, implementing and developing CSR programmes with companies of all sizes www.marktopley.co.uk| Twitter – @Mark_Topley| Facebook – Toppernator