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canstockphoto4584726In 2007, business mogul and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson created a movement for business owners called Capitalism 24902 to be a force for good in the world. In an article for Time Magazine titled Why We Must Reinvent Capitalism, Branson writes: “We at Virgin Unite, the non-profit arm of the Virgin Group, call this approach Capitalism 24902 because it’s focused on getting business leaders all over the world – all 24,902 miles of it – to look at how we can do what is right for people and the planet.”

Its easy to think of several businesses motivated by the idea of doing good in the world: Toms started with a “One for One” idea for shoes, in which the company would donate one pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair purchased. (They’ve now expanded to use eyewear, bags, and coffee as a means of providing eye care, maternal assistance, and clean water to those in need.) Warby Parker does the same thing: they’ve distributed over a million pair of eye glasses to those who would be without access otherwise. And then there’s Newman’s Own, which donates all profits to charity. So far, they’ve donated $400 million to over 75,000 nonprofits around the world.

Using business to do social good is not necessarily a new concept, but it is one that is growing rapidly, perhaps with a little help from Capitalism 24902. The idea is to not throw the baby out with the bath water: run a profitable business, but give back to the world in doing so. Essentially, screw business as usual (which happens to be the title of Branson’s last book).

Doing good for your community is good for business. Customers are happy to support companies that give back – in fact, they may even be willing to spend a little more to support those efforts.

24902 and Dentistry

Like Branson, I believe that the most successful companies are the ones that focus on people. When your team sees that they’re part of a company that’s in it for more than the profit, they feel they have purpose in what they do, and that is incredibly important to building and sustaining a happy, healthy work environment. When your patients see that you truly care about their health and their community, they are happier to be a part of your business. (And it’s those happy patients who will give you referrals.)

Being a member of the social good movement, I use my own business to implement positive change in our community. DentalPost sponsors scholarships to Dental Hygiene Seminars (to help dental hygiene students prepare for the National Boards). I volunteer my time to both the Ben Massell Dental Clinic and the GDA Mission of Mercy, providing free dental care to those otherwise unable to afford it. I also participate in Give Back a Smile, an event organized by the AACD Charitable Foundation that helps to restore the smiles of victims of domestic and sexual violence. In addition, I serve on the board of The Fatherless Daughter Project, a book, documentary, and movement intended to empower women.

Whether you are a member of the Capitalism 24902 movement or you just want to do some good in the world, here are a few simple tips to start using your business for the better:

  • Encourage employees to look after their physical and mental health: provide healthy snacks and encourage healthy behaviors, like taking a walk during lunch or quitting smoking
  • Volunteer in the community or sponsor a local children’s sports team
  • Be conscious of the environment: go paperless with electronic medical records and digital X-rays to reduce chemical exposure and radiation, recycle, be OSHA compliant, and be mindful of using chemicals that could harm people or the environment
  • Treat team members and patients with respect: paying it forward is a real concept!
  • Recognize and encourage employees who support your efforts to give back
  • Think about other ways your business can make change possible and inspire the next generation of business owners

Our growing interconnectedness is transforming the way the world works, and it’s critical that we work together to build a better one.

Even small efforts build up to something BIG. Global change is a long-term goal that begins when ordinary people do their part to make a difference every day. We won’t change the world overnight, but we can positively affect our own little corner of it.

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