Senior executives can have an impact that goes way beyond the balance sheet and achieving healthy returns for investors. “As we have the privilege of running businesses, we can be influential,” says Justin Ash, CEO of Oasis Healthcare. “I have my own sphere of influence and that means there is an opportunity to make a difference.” 
Every year, Justin takes on a personal challenge to fundraise for charity; he also chairs the Scouts where he lives and has helped grow it from 16 people to over 100. “It feels great to be involved," he explains. "What I’m doing is giving a structure to the organisation – making sure it’s funded and governed, bringing what I’m good at.
“Leaders should give back using the skills they’ve got, and use their networks to raise money and awareness for good causes.” 
Anne Stevens, Criticaleye Board Mentor and former Vice President for People & Organisation at Rio Tinto Copper, feels the same. Two years ago she joined Over The Wall, a UK charity that provides residential summer camps to children with serious illnesses, as a Board Trustee. “From a skills and experience perspective most not-for-profits need business and leadership skills, and management rigour,” she says. 
From helping with HR, to sitting on the risk and audit committees, Anne is able to use her skills formally, while also getting involved on a personal level. “I volunteer at the camps regularly; the more you volunteer the more you realise what a difference it is making to people’s lives," she says. "By getting involved in the very fabric of the charity you realise the impact you’re having. That’s got me hooked.
“It’s rewarding to feel you’re doing something good outside of a business environment and giving back to your community. I find these non-commercial contributions add the most colour to my life."
Leading the way
There is a multiplier effect when CEOs and senior executives are actively involved in good causes.

For the last three years, David Parry-Jones, Vice President and General Manager for Northern Europe at VMware, has volunteered with the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) – a disability charity that arranges adventures on tall ships – and has enabled colleagues to join him. 

“The best thing a business leader can do is create an environment where people feel comfortable about giving back to society," David says. “Whether they do that by participating or by putting schemes in place, it’s about encouraging people to do their own thing.” 
Doing something outside the corporate bubble can engage and reward individuals in different ways. Last year, Polly Richardson, Research Team Lead for Corporate at Criticaleye, started mentoring through the Girls’ Network, which connects girls from disadvantaged communities with a mentor.
“Mentoring is a unique relationship; it exposes me to a different perspective and it feels like I’m having a positive influence on someone’s life,” says Polly, who has rolled out the initiative to her colleagues at Criticaleye with encouragement from the executives. 
Ultimately, it’s about understanding the influence you have, combined with the passion to create positive change. As Justin puts it: “If you’re going to have access to people, talent and influence, you should use them for good.” 
By Dawn Murden, Editor, Advisory 
Do you have a view on giving back? If you have an opinion that you’d like to share, please email Dawn at:
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You can also contact each of the contributors through Criticaleye.