Sustainable Business Principles

Last updated: August 2015

Whilst Helpful Technology may not be around for ever, it’s important to us that we run our business in a way that’s sustainable. We’re not a charity, or a social enterprise, but that doesn’t mean we can’t run a commercial organisation in a socially useful way.

That means treating people (customers, suppliers, staff and associates) fairly, honestly and with respect, being sensitive to our impact on the environment, and playing a meaningful role in the communities we work in.

This is a working draft set of principles that describe the standards we set ourselves.

Environmental

  • Energy use & sources: we prefer low carbon energy sources, and will carbon offset the footprint of our servers (unless powered by low carbon energy).
  • Travel: we prefer trains to planes, buses and bikes to taxis or cars. We’ll carbon offset our mileage.
  • Resource use (paper & recycling): we print the minimum, and try and use recycled or sustainably-forested paper.

People, suppliers & materials

  • Copyright, licensing & credit: we respect copyright, abide by the terms of licences, and always give attributions where requested. Where we can, we make our outputs available under licences that permit reuse.
  • Ethical purchasing: we prefer Fairtrade, local, and/or organic, and pay a premium for them.
  • Fair dealing with associates: we work with people we trust and respect as professionals regardless of age, race, gender or sexuality. We pay our associates and suppliers promptly, and are flexible when we can, accommodating our team’s commitments to balance work and home life.
  • Living Wage: we’re accredited London Living Wage employers, committed to paying our staff, associates and contractors well above the Minimum Wage to help ensure they can enjoy a decent standard of living

Craftsmanship & professionalism

  • Conventions & standards: we do robust, reliable, well-founded work, aiming to follow industry conventions where they exist, especially for technical projects (e.g. for example code validation, cross-browser compliance and accessibility)
  • Areas of expertise and competency: though we stretch ourselves and try new things, we are honest with clients and prospective clients about our skills, experience and capabilities
  • Warranties and quality assurance: we honour the moral commitment arising from work we deliver: if our outputs fall short of what we agreed, we aim to rectify things quickly. If requirements change, we will be flexible with and helpful to our clients.

Marketing & Sales

  • Honesty about products and services: we describe the things we do clearly and honestly, without overclaiming. We never denigrate our competitors, and bid fairly for work. We are open about reliability (e.g. through http://helpful.im/helpfulstatus) and admit mistakes.
  • Delivery capacity: we are honest about our capacity to take on work and try and deliver projects to agreed timescales.
  • Pricing strategy: we aim to make a reasonable profit, but remain competitive. We find our clients are happiest working on a fixed price, largely fixed scope basis, with a small contingency.
  • Choosing and working with clients: we won’t take on clients with whom we would be ashamed to be associated

Community

Financial

  • Banking & investments: we file the financial and corporate documentation required with HMRC and Companies House promptly and transparently. See our Tax and Financial Disclosures page for more detail, including copies of our annual accounts and Corporation Tax returns.
  • Financial goals: we aim to build a business which can sustainably support flexible, middle-class lifestyles for directors and employees, so we favour self-financing steady growth over rapid investment-backed expansion.
  • Tax: we pay the normal UK corporate and personal taxes our firm is liable for. Where we can, we aim to minimise our tax exposure to keep prices lower, but won’t use convoluted means to avoid tax.

Helpful Technology is a limited company with a single Director, for now. We use the corporate ‘we’ because these are corporate values, not just personal ones.