Values and ethics at Cliniko

Cliniko was created with the goal of being profitable and ethical at the same time, two things that aren’t mutually exclusive! Many people know that we donate 2% of all customer subscription fees to charity but our values go so much further than this.

Aisling Smith·

An illustration of a person hugging a heart in one arm and the Earth in another

Having strong values and behaving ethically is fundamental to the way Cliniko is run, so we wanted to share more about this. This isn’t greenwashing, virtue signalling, or a marketing gimmick for us – ethics is something we believe in wholeheartedly.

Cliniko has had a system of values in place since it first began. When our founders, Joel and Liora, set up the company, they wanted Cliniko to be a successful business, but also an ethical one. The world’s corporate titans aren’t always the best examples of ethical behaviour unfortunately (we can all think of a famous billionaire or three who could use a crash course in basic human decency!). But it’s entirely possible for a business to be profitable and principled at the same time – we’ve seen it work in our company.

At Cliniko, being ethical is a mindset which we then back up through our actions. This means running our business with integrity and doing what we believe is right, rather than what’s easy. We strive to make decisions – for our product, customers, and workplace – that are principled and inclusive. Honesty and transparency matter to us, so we’re always upfront and open in our communications with our customers. We also genuinely care about the world we’re living in and do what we can to make it a little bit better. For us, this includes the environment, as well as the people and creatures sharing our planet.

Being ethical is an ongoing process that we’ll be engaged in for as long as Cliniko is running and, as you’ll read, there are many continual ways that we work towards this goal. These values are integrated through every part of the business and these are some of the specific things that we do.

1Charitable donations are a huge part of Cliniko.

  • Our charitable donations are one way of putting our money where our mouth is when we say we want to make the world a better place. To date, we’ve donated over $AUD 1.7 million (though getting to $AUD 1 million was a huge milestone for us!). Even when the company was just starting up and finding its feet, Joel and Liora were committed to giving some of the proceeds to charity. We started off donating 1% of all customer subscription fees to charity and over time, as the business flourished, we increased this to 2%. This is now our baseline goal, but sometimes we even exceed it – last year, for example, we donated 3.2% of our revenue.
  • We donate based on revenue rather than our profit. Yes, you read that right! Joel and Liora didn’t want the cost of running the business to reduce our charitable donations as the company grew and, if you’re giving money based on profit, it’s easy to fudge the numbers a bit by concocting extra expenses. Giving to charity based on our revenue, however, means that we’re sticking to a commitment to prioritise these donations.
  • Our main charitable partner is Beyond the Orphanage, who do incredible work with HIV/AIDS affected and homeless children in Nepal and Kenya. We offer ongoing support to them, proudly donating every month since 2014. We also make regular donations to Sea Shepherd Australia (if you’re keen, you can check out Joel’s video chat with the organisation’s managing director, Jeff Hansen). Recurring donations benefit charitable organisations (by assisting their overall revenue, offering regular cash flow, and allowing for better long-term planning), so we love being able to help in this way.
  • In addition to our ongoing charitable commitments, we give one-off donations and respond to world crises as they occur. For example, we donated to assist with the Australian bushfires and matched donations that our customers made to humanitarian charities working in Ukraine. We’ve also given to charity as a thank you for our customers getting involved in surveys that Cliniko has run.
  • Besides making monetary donations, we’ve also donated both hardware and our time. Our resident video wizard, Rachel, was deeply involved with the EmPower laptop program, run by Beyond the Orphanage. She visited Nepal in 2019 and ran a series of technology workshops with the young people there to introduce them to various technology skills – you can read more about the program here.
  • All registered charities get a free Cliniko subscription, which is another way that we try to lend a helping hand to organisations doing good work in the world. At the time of writing, there are around 170 charities who we’re supporting this way.

2Our company has strong and uncompromisable values.

  • In 2019, we decided to become carbon neutral. For a fully remote company like ours, this was a massive task! Jason, our multitasker extraordinaire who oversees many different projects for Cliniko, has written up the full story. Remaining carbon neutral is an ongoing process, but we’re committed to keeping our footprint as small as possible and doing everything we can to offset any emissions we create.
  • We’re proud of our ethical work culture, where the Cliniko team gets treated like autonomous human beings rather than automatons. You can read about our work culture in more detail on the blog but, in short, our ethics extend to the way the company is run internally (think unlimited annual leave, completely flexible working, no managers, hierarchies, or meetings). In fact, we were even a finalist in the inaugural Smart50 Workplaces list, which recognises excellence in hiring and retention strategies! Your Cliniko customer subscription fees support a healthy workplace, where staff are genuinely respected and therefore able to show up at work and bring their best.
  • We don’t spend money to boost our Facebook posts, even though it damages Cliniko’s visibility. Facebook was our most engaged community and paying to promote (“boost”) our posts there was great for our business, but we stopped doing this, even though our ability to reach customers has suffered. Why? Because Meta (the company behind Facebook and Instagram) behaves in some seriously unethical ways. This is well-documented – from deliberately manipulating the emotions of its users, to allowing the spread of misinformation, ignoring evidence about its impact on teenage mental health, and promoting bigotry via discriminatory algorithms. None of this sits well with us, so we don’t give money to Meta, even though it’d be better for our business.
  • We don’t take money from investors. Cliniko is a privately owned company, so our focus is simply making software that’s as good as it can possibly be – rather than trying to achieve fast growth at all costs. Because we don’t have to pander to investors, our customers are our number one priority and the basis of all our decision making. If you’re keen to read more about this, Joel wrote down some detailed thoughts about why this is so important.
  • For us, being ethical includes encouraging other businesses to question the traditional ways of running a company and perhaps even find their own version of what we’re doing at Cliniko. Joel puts a lot of time into preparing and giving talks at events to share the value of working the way we do, in the hope of other businesses making changes to their own work culture. After 11 years, Cliniko still going strong is proof that these non-traditional ways of running a business aren’t naïve or idealistic – in fact, they’re both practical and profitable!

3Cliniko itself is an ethical product.

  • There are no dodgy sales practices or trickery going on to get signups. We don’t oversell our software or invent wild claims about what it can do simply to get your payment details. If you want to cancel your account, it can be done very easily, and our free trial isn’t a ploy to sneakily capture your credit card details. In fact, you have to opt-in to receive marketing emails from us, and we don’t even have a sales team! Instead, you’ll find an excellent support team, who will tell you honestly what Cliniko can and can’t do (and try to offer workarounds where possible).
  • Our pricing plans prioritise accessibility, rather than favouring bigger practices or working off a tiered system where paying more money gives you access to more features. We never wanted small or struggling businesses (who probably need our software the most to grow their practice) to miss out on the benefits of everything Cliniko has to offer. Every one of our customers gets full access to every Cliniko feature, the pricing simply scales depending on the size of your business.
  • We always do our best to help facilitate inclusivity. In 2018, we added fields for sex, gender identity, and patient pronouns into Cliniko to allow clinics using our software to be more inclusive and gender affirming. We’ve continued to update the terminology in Cliniko in response to feedback from human rights advocacy groups. 
  • We’ve built Cliniko to keep your data secure and private, and we have a lot of built-in features to support this. There are countless examples of steps we take to ensure your security online – and many smaller security features you mightn’t even be aware of. For example, did you know we restrict what information gets copied into the tab in your browser? Any title from a page you visit gets stored on your computer locally and shows up as part of your internet history, so we help you manage that.

Author information

Aisling is a Melbourne-based writer and all around word nerd. When she isn't writing for Cliniko, she likes circus fitness, playing her cello, and eating dessert.

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