Implementing ethical tech tools at BaseKit

In May this year, BaseKit received its B Corp accreditation, joining over 6,000 companies that meet the highest standards of environmental and social responsibility around the world.

The stringent road to accreditation quickly highlighted the areas where BaseKit could improve its green credentials, covering every element of our environmental and social practices, not just their carbon footprint.

To improve our impact, our team made changes to our technology operations and the BaseKit Platform. This has had an impact on the environment, our team, our partners and the customers they serve with our software.

Here Mark Jeffries, Technical Director at BaseKit, outlines the environmentally and socially-conscious decisions we’ve made over the past 18 months to bring our technology and operations to B Corp standard, and what we plan to focus on for the future.

A greener platform

The BaseKit Platform is currently delivered to small business owners in over 40 markets around the world via our partners, who are becoming ever more conscious about the social and environmental impact of their choices.

A decision we made with one of the most impressive immediate results to make our platform greener, was introducing intelligent image delivery.

We partnered with ImageEngine – one of the highest performing image content delivery networks offering superior image quality, compression for mobile, and device-specific delivery with exceptional mobile payload savings.

Essentially, when someone visits a customer website, the technology automatically looks at the characteristics of the device the user is on and serves the most efficient image size and format for them.

As a result, this gives huge savings on the energy and bandwidth required by data centres to deliver the images. BaseKit is excited to have seen an average image payload saving of 90% across current partner integrations. One of our partners is currently saving 4 tons of carbon a month due to these changes.

As for the small businesses who use it, every image they use on their website is the most optimum format and size for the consuming device – which means their images are both energy saving and rank higher on Google.

Our development team also worked to reduce the size and load times of our customers’ published websites. This was achieved by streamlining the site’s CSS and Javascript, whilst also ensuring we serve the most appropriately sized images for site visitors.

Efficient hardware utilisation is also a key step towards reducing overall energy consumption. Something we were already doing every time we deployed a new on-premise or SaaS instance of production software, was looking for the most efficient way of utilising available hardware.

We also made sure that all our services were hosted in green data centres, to make certain that as much of our infrastructure as possible is using renewable energy. The main cloud providers now have many options for hosting services in carbon neutral data centres, many of which don’t cost any extra.

Listening to customers

One of the key impact areas of the B Corp accreditation process is Customers. When it came to BaseKit’s partners and their end users of our software, there were a number of ongoing actions that we had already implemented to listen to and take action from our customers that greatly contributed to our B Corp certification.

Customer feedback

It’s important for BaseKit to proactively request feedback from end-users of our products through the use of surveys and NPS scores. We regularly review all user feedback and implement changes if we believe there will be meaningful improvements to our customer user experience or product performance.

We regularly invite potential and actual customers to take part in moderated usability testing. This allows us to directly observe the impact of our products and minimise any potential negative effects on our customers’ effortless use of our software.

One of our values is indispensable partnership. The open and transparent nature of the relationship we build with our partners often sets us apart and is incredibly valuable on both sides of the partnership.

We regularly review partner feedback and prioritise suggestions for implementation where we believe a positive impact can be made. We also encourage partners to set up their own formal customer review processes – and offer support with structuring survey questions and analysing user data.

Beta testing

To maximise the positive effects of planned software releases we have developed a beta test program to maximise customer feedback before the final production software is delivered.

We aim to gain feedback from the very earliest point in the development process at which we have viable software so that we can minimise any potential negative effects before the software is released.

To keep the evolution of our software in check, we also set improvement targets against the scores we receive from partners and regularly review our progress towards these targets.

People before pixels

We’re always keen to recruit as diverse a workforce as possible and are proud to have a diverse technology team. One of the recent changes we have made is to ensure that we use as inclusive language as possible within our technology teams, replacing terms such as black list/white list with terms like primary/secondary, allow list/block list.

It’s also widely documented that minority groups are hugely underrepresented in the tech community. We firmly believe that a diverse engineering team is a better engineering team, and while we are lucky to have women and non-binary people in our team, it remains hard to recruit diversity into the team. That’s something we need to actively get involved in changing.

Looking to the future

The B Corp accreditation process has helped us to reduce waste, conserve resources, and minimise our carbon footprint, but there is still much to do and we have set a target to increase our B Corp score to 100 by the end of 2023.

There are plenty of ambitious plans we have to help us achieve this, from creating a roadmap to reduce our Scope 3 emissions with our hosting suppliers, to further evolving our customer satisfaction and metric targets and continuously improving our platform and infrastructure for the benefit of our partners and their customers.

When it comes to operations, we will be continuously looking for ways to reduce the size of our customers’ websites. Not only does a smaller website load quicker and improve search engine placings it also has a direct effect on the carbon cost of serving that website.

We are observing that our partners and potential partners, and their customers, prefer to do business with companies that share their values. We believe our B Corp certification certainly helps us to differentiate our company as a socially responsible and environmentally conscious tech business and are proud to be part of the global B Corp movement.

BaseKit is on a mission for tech democracy for small businesses. We want anyone with a business idea to have the confidence and the ability to start a business and thrive online.

If you’re interested in partnering with us to help achieve this mission, get in touch or request a demo of our software.

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