Being responsible starts with a B: How can we be better?

Paving the way for responsible tech

With half of the world in lockdown and many more people in isolation, the past month has been a rollercoaster of emotions on a global scale. It’s normal to feel afraid, to feel overwhelmed by uncertainty. And while our first instinct might be to protect ourselves and our families by stocking up (or “hamsteren” as the Dutch somewhat affectionately call it) on essentials like toilet paper, paracetamol and flour, it’s also an opportunity for self-reflection. A moment to ask ourselves: am I leaving enough for others?

It seems now, more than ever, we’re relying on each other – for support, for connection. And while it shouldn’t take a global health crisis for us to notice the simultaneity of the human experience, I hope it’s something that sticks. The idea of making decisions based on our needs as a society, and being fully aware of our impact.

Curiously you can apply the same principle to our planet, as it battles climate change, and big corporations around the globe. Are we growing businesses in a responsible way? Are we leaving enough for the planet to thrive? This leads us to our next global challenge: balancing people, planet and profit.  

Over the past ten years we’ve built a business with empathy at its core. But this empathy doesn’t just apply to our decision-making or our employees, it’s about the people who use our tools. At WeTransfer we think in terms of people first, creativity second and technology third, prioritizing the relationships we build with our community above all others.

Since the beginning we’ve given away up to 30% of our advertising space to support artists we admire and causes we care about. We’ve collaborated with our creative community to tackle issues like climate change, gun reform and canceling a huge chunk of medical debt for those in need. We even made FastCompany’s list of the 10 most innovative social good companies.

Now it’s time to take things further. That’s why our goal this year is to become a more responsible tech company. The first step is to join a global movement of organizations known as B Corps. A certified B Corporation balances purpose and profit to use business as a force for good – think Toms, Patagonia or Ben & Jerry’s.

We’ve been working extremely hard and are now in the final stages of getting our official certification. Being more responsible is not black and white, there are a lot of trade-offs we need to make. But as we complete the process we’re beginning to understand where we are in terms of social and environmental impact. It’s an enlightening process to map everything out, from calculating our CO2 emissions and water usage to revisiting internal policies and employee welfare.

The whole process has forced us to look holistically at all areas of our business and ask ourselves: How can we do better? For now, that means completing the assessment, looking at ways to improve our score and getting closer every day to our long-term ambition. 

The road to becoming a more responsible company is full of twists and turns and we want to invite you along for the ride. We’ll be sharing more insights about our journey as we go and we’d love to hear from you on how we can keep improving.

Illustration by Mark Conlan