CSR – What’s at the heart of your business?

on 12th November 2018

Mark Topley explains how CSR can help dental practices plan and execute their charitable activities for maximum all-round benefit


You’re at the top of your game clinically. Your facilities and patient care are second to none. But what about getting to the next level: building your reputation and maintaining the feel-good factor that keeps your team and patients positive?

Healthy team dynamics, positive leadership, a strong brand and a caring environment are all key factors that should be at the heart of your business. An increasingly important part of your strategy that affects each of these areas is CSR – corporate social responsibility.

CSR is a term that many people will have heard, but is often difficult to explain. In simple terms, it has three key elements:

1. Being a good ‘corporate citizen’ – supporting good causes that fit with your business, and not harming the environment through your business practices

2. Being responsibly run – acting in an ethical and transparent way in all areas of your business

3.  Being an appealing place to work – treating your employees well and creating an inspiring and supportive culture.

Yet despite being increasingly recognised, CSR is still not always viewed as a key component of a business. Charity and community work are viewed as a nice thing to have, but not central to success.

But times are changing. Business is increasingly held to a standard beyond profit, and younger employees are looking for ways to fulfil their personal values through their work. Strong CSR has been shown to enhance good performance and even make up for deficiencies in other areas. Everyone needs to grow and protect brand and reputation, enhance competitive positioning with customers, and deepen employee engagement. Good CSR can add value to all of these.

Over the past 13 years, I have been fortunate to work with a wide range of businesses in the UK and East Africa during my time as CEO of Bridge2Aid, shaping and delivering CSR strategies. I became convinced of CSR’s value: not just for good causes and communities, but also for business. And across the profession and industry, others have found the same.

CSR builds your team

‘The impact on my team has been overwhelmingly positive, ranging from the benefits of collaborating for a good cause to, without wanting to sound overdramatic, some transformational experiences.’

Nigel Jones – sales and marketing director, Practice Plan

CSR builds your profile

‘CSR enabled us to gain huge amounts of positive PR – both word of mouth, and in the local press – covering stories on our volunteers, our fundraising events and team. 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.’

Shaenna Loughnane – owner, Chipping Manor Dental Practices

CSR strengthens relationships

‘The conversations continued for many months after returning back to work from my charity climb up Kilimanjaro. It was a real talking point. It brought the whole team together and was well received by existing patients and new alike.’

Zaki Kanaan – K2 Dental, London



These examples show CSR’s value to business. And statistics from Project ROI, a comprehensive review that brought together the results of more than 100 studies of the measurable impact of CSR, show a strong CSR strategy can result in:

increased sales and revenue – up to 20% increase in revenue and 20-60% increase in customer commitment

protection and growth in your reputation and brand, affecting satisfaction scores by up to 10%, helping differentiate you from the competition

a more effective, inspired and engaged team – reducing staff turnover by up to 50%, saving 90-200% of annual salary for each retained employee.

But for CSR to work well, and deliver its potential, the evidence from many studies shows there are some vital principles to follow.

Choose charitable commitments that fit with your business

Make a genuine, lasting commitment to address CSR issues

Manage CSR activities proactively and incorporate them into your overall business plan

Communicate your CSR policy effectively (and appropriately) with the team, customers, and other stakeholders, to build awareness, engagement and trust.

How to start

So you’re convinced, but where do you start?

In working with clients, I use a simple five-step process to get you set up for success with CSR:

Envision – clarify exactly what you want to achieve and what causes you want to impact

Evaluate – assess the five key areas where your CSR activity will impact: team, customers, communication, charity, fundraising

Engage – share your vision for CSR and get buy in from your team

Plan – select CSR activities that will meet the goals you set

Execute – incorporate your CSR activity into your regular review and management processes.

As the evidence and experience of structured CSR grows, it’s no longer an optional tag on for an aspirational dental practice. The level of your CSR will have an impact on your business, and with commitment, planning and communication, it will be hugely positive.


Mark Topley is the former CEO of Bridge2Aid, who now helps businesses and dental practices to maximise the value and impact of their CSR. Visit marktopley.co.uk for more resources or to contact Mark. Follow him on Twitter – @Mark_Topley, Facebook.com/toppernator

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