Talking the talk, walking the walk, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah
We talk a lot about who we are, what we want to be, where we want to go. We don’t want to be blah, blah, blah. We don’t want to be the kind of company that only pays lip service to their values. We don’t want to stick a generic Modern Slavery statement on our website or tell everyone that we’re saving the planet because we don’t use paper.
We want real action. We want to make Good work better.
That’s why we’ve started taking a closer look at our supply chain and why we choose the products or services we do, and what alternatives we might have.
Here are just some of the changes we’re making:
We didn’t think too much about why we chose GoDaddy for our domain registration but when some issues came to our attention, we started looking elsewhere. The main reasons are:
We were a little late to the party on this one. Choosing our suppliers blindly is something we’re actively trying to avoid now.
We’re in the process of transferring our domain registrations to Gandi (the fiscal responsibility of our Finance Person means we’re doing this as renewals approach). It was harder than we thought to choose a registration company. We did our best to follow the ownership chain (1-2-3 reg, for example, is a subsidiary of GoDaddy). In the end we went with Gandi because of their policy regarding privacy. We like their ‘no bullshit’ policy too. The user interface has improved since we first started moving.
(By the way, moving registrations was easy peasy.)
This is another tricky one. When Barry first set up the company he was mindful of choosing an ethical bank. We used Triodos during our first year banking. Used? That’s right, we have moved away from Triodos. We found it increasingly difficult to use and their customer service were not efficient enough in resolving some issues. Transparency became an issue when we learnt that Triodos route a lot of funds, including international payments, through the Royal Bank of Scotland, which did contribute to some of our difficulties. When we found out that Triodos has policies that support anti-vaccination and bizarre Steiner School thoughts in farming, for example, we decided the time was right to move.
The easiest move was Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), largely because of previous relationships with the bank. It was a relief not to have the issues we found with Triodos, there’s (almost) seamless integration with our accounting software, customer service is useful and the internet and mobile banking intuitive. They have some sense of community (and they sponsor the 6 Nations rugby but we’re not sure that counts, despite Barry’s best arguments). The latest report on building a sustainable banking service is encouraging too.
Yet, we’re left with a slight feeling of dissatisfaction (and sleaze?) by being a customer of one of the ‘Big 4.’ That’s why we’re in the process of opening a business account with the Cooperative Bank. By no means perfect, especially after being acquired by hedge fund managers, we look at the Cooperative as being the ‘best of a bad bunch.’ They have stronger community values than the Big 4 but with the ease of use you’d expect from your business bank (we hope). With few physical branches the application is taking a little longer than originally planned (three months so far).
We’re happy enough to continue to use RBS as a secondary banking option. We can’t fault their service.
We’ve come to the conclusion that we can’t compromise on the service we require in order to satisfy some of our other ‘values criteria.’ Until there are more ethical banks to choose from, with a transparent structure and strong customer service, the Cooperative will have to do.
As a remote team, we spend a bit of time abroad. In order to avoid fees from our home banks, most of us generally take a Revolut or Monzo card with us. They are both mobile app based banking alternatives. We usually use them as ‘currency cards.’ We top up in our local currency then withdraw Euros, Dirham, Lev, etc from an international ATM. The rates they give on withdrawing cash are better than the high street banks (Revolut rates slightly better than Monzo, at least in Morocco where we tested it). Monzo is also introducing Current Accounts this year. We don’t know much about them but it’s exciting to see new players challenging the traditional banking sector.
We do a lot of international transfers as well. We’ve been users of Transferwise and Azimo for awhile, read about our thoughts here.
Something as simple as opening a web page and doing some research can have some good. For example, duckduckgo doesn’t sell your data. We’re a fan of no spam. Our team member Tom recently made us aware of Ecosia, a search engine that plants trees with 80% of its profits. We haven’t been using it long enough to comment on the quality of the searches, or how much we revert to Google, but we’ll keep you posted.
The biggest challenge is changing the habit of using that other enormous well known search engine.
We're pretty certain there will be more changes as we continue the broader process we've undertaken to do a full supplier audit. At some point we will probably open source our audit spreadsheet to help others looking to bring their supplier choices in line with their own values.