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CSR 'Giant': National Veterinary Hospital

Teaching Children to Cherish Life


Teaching Children to Cherish Life


Good corporate social responsibility practices can be a tough sell for small organizations. But National Veterinary Hospital has figured out how to get all of its stakeholders in on the CSR act.



Teaching Children to Cherish Life

By Hui-shan Chen
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 579 )

For small enterprises, pursuing philanthropic initiatives can be like playing baseball – you need teamwork to forge perfection.

One example is a pet museum hidden on the bustling Jiuzong Road in Neihu in the northern part of Taipei. Young visitors are asked by their guides to wear mini medical smocks and learn how to draw blood, do an ultrasound and even perform CPR with the help of specially made plush toys.

As the youngsters practice their newly acquired medical skills, their moms are busy snapping photos, recording their children's first experience as veterinarians.

This is the Asian Pet Museum. The list of sponsors displayed on one of the museum's walls bears witness to the concerted efforts made by National Veterinary Hospital and its employees, suppliers and customers in pursuing good corporate social responsibility practices.

"I tell all of my suppliers that if they want to do business with me, they also have to participate in social welfare activities with me," says hospital superintendent Chen Dao-jie bluntly.

That boldness may be lacking at some bigger corporations, but National Veterinary Hospital harnessed it to mobilize the resources of its supply chain and build the Asian Pet Museum to bring invaluable life education to children.   

The achievements of this collective force not only merited a ninth place finish among Taiwan's top 20 "small giant" CSR performers in CommonWealth Magazine's 2015 CSR Awards, but also a second place finish in the social engagement category.

Chen may humbly say he lacks a firm understanding of CSR, but he has a clear sense of the plight of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

"Because SMEs are small, they have to be united," Chen explains, comparing them to a well-round baseball team. "Players who can 'pitch' may not be great at 'hitting.' Those who are good hitters may not be great 'fielders.' The fact that nobody is perfect creates a powerful united force."

Unwilling to limit itself because of a lack of resources, National Veterinary Hospital has not only organized a strong alliance but also amassed its own philanthropic energy.

Building Trust

On the first floor of its headquarters in Taichung next to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, the hospital has set up a "CSR Honors Wall" covered with thank-you letters from communities around Taiwan for free talks in which the hospital's veterinarians share the latest medical knowledge and their management experience.

Chen believes that the wall blanketed with achievements of all sizes is a far more tangible and effective expression of what CSR really is than a long-winded speech on the subject.

But Chen also freely admits that his employees did not initially support him in embracing CSR initiatives.

"They asked me why I wouldn't let them go out and make money and why I wanted them to do volunteer work. There was a lot of criticism spewed at the time," Chen recalls with a wry smile.

Unable to get his colleagues to identify with his initiatives even by setting a personal example, Chen decided to enlist the help of an independent evaluation.

"The corporate social responsibility assessment was a type of endorsement. It helped employees realize that society sees CSR as a good thing," Chen says.

Once the hospital's efforts were publicized in the media, employees began throwing their support behind him and slowly came to appreciate that the positive social image stemming from CSR practices helped enhance the trust customers had in the hospital's veterinarians.

Chen has seemingly never felt trapped by the size of his enterprise. In the future, he plans to set up a second and maybe even a third Asian Pet Museum in Taiwan and Japan, intent on seeing life education for children continue to take root around Asia.

Translated from the Chinese by Luke Sabatier