I was busy beating myself up today having missed most of my daughters birthday, as I helped the USPCA appoint a senior veterinary surgeon, only to be told by her that by helping them was the best present ever. This only served to reinforce why I feel it is imperative that we, as an industry, continued to help these charities not only survive, but prosper.
Veterinary, like most industries, is progressing predictably through a clear consolidation life cycle. With an estimated 70-80 per cent of veterinary practices potentially becoming corporate within the next few years, our industry, more than any other, must be seen to be socially responsible. Whilst I am confident there are some ethical investors, we must ensure that in the search for maximum return of investment, we do not lose sight of why we became veterinary surgeons in the first place.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is a relatively new concept, that can take many forms depending on the company and industry but I always believed that by adopting a form of CSR my veterinary clinics not only benefited society but adding equity to my own brand.
Thus, important as CSR is for the community, it is equally valuable for a company. I found that collaborative networks with animal charities, helped forge stronger bonds between employees; improve staff “hygiene” factors by boosting morale and facilitated a greater connection for my employees and myself with our community.
Those veterinary practices that are only concerned with KPIs and the bottom line and are not seen to adopt a form of CSR, risk their clients taking their money and business to a practice that does. Owners tend to have an innate ability to detect when they are being subject to upselling, particularly when their much loved pet is involved. They also like to know that their vet cares. The old adage that clients “need to know that you care before they care about what you know” is a constant, not only with regards to their own pet but animals in general.
Lack of a conscious CSR policy can also impact a business’ ability to attract top talent whilst negatively affecting employees’ job satisfaction levels and retention rates. The next generation of veterinarians will look to be employed by a transparent veterinary company with the goal of doing good, while also making a profit. Those corporates that actively adopt a social responsibility policy will have a real competitive advantage.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”