Creating an inclusively better world through Tech for Good

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Our Region in Action

There are many ingredients to making the world a more inclusive place.

Hearts and minds are key components, of course – people need to believe and trust in the benefits of an inclusive society and economy, to make it happen.

And technology needs to be a core part of the mix too, if we’re going to create a forward-looking 21st century region where everyone feels included, every day.

So it’s reassuring to know that CCR is home to a tech team that lives, breathes, nurtures and delivers inclusivity with real social impact – creating a diversity of digital products that are built with inclusion in mind, consciously geared to leave the world in a better place.

The name of that inspirationally inclusive team? Big Lemon: a globally focused phenomena that’s been blazing the ‘Tech for Good’ trail since 2014. A company whose solutions are already helping people find the jobs that are right for them … empowering individuals and communities to win the carbon race-to-zero … nurturing the international co-production movement … enabling people to access next-generation healthcare through easy-to-use apps … becoming a company ranked globally in the top 5% for making social impact.

As a kindred spirit committed to getting people involved and giving everyone a voice, we caught up with Big Lemon founder, Sam Wheeler, to discover more about the culture, work and vision of this extraordinary team …

 

Creating tech that includes everyone.

“We build digital products geared to giving people a voice and leaving the world in a better place” explains Sam. “We call it ‘Tech for Good’, delivered by app development, web design and digital services that are 100% focused on creating inclusive and sustainable social impact, all framed by the Big Lemon’s core belief in transparency and care – and our vision that tech shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving big change.

“That spirit of inclusivity defines the people we choose to partner with. You could be a founder with a big idea, a business looking for a transparent tech partner or a non-profit ready to showcase your community impact – to us, it’s all about working with you as one team, co-designing digital products with purpose, creating tech for people who care about the planet and the people who live in it.

“It might seem obvious, but the way to ensure your product reaches the most people and creates the maximum impact is to get your audience in on the action. Our belief in co-creation – focused on building solutions that have a positive outcome for the end user – enables us to deliver digital products that people love using, developed with inclusion at the core. It also means that everything we build empowers our customers to create positive change.

 

An inclusive team, inspired to do the right thing.

“That ethos is shared by our colleagues as well as our customers. We’re a small bunch of people who truly care about the impact of the products we produce. Since 2014, we’ve been designing and building meaningful tech for digital products that empower others to deliver positive change – and we live that values-driven passion for ‘doing the right thing for everyone’ every day, in our own team.

“We’ve consciously grown our company in the most inclusive way possible. Team culture is a big thing for us and we’re proud to be built on diverse skills and different mindsets – brought together by people from all backgrounds, all sharing a belief in being approachable, honest and human.

“We’re a team on a mission to do our bit to solve the planet’s challenges – through tech with purpose – and we practice what we preach, in every way possible. It’s really important to us as that we provide an environment where everyone can be themselves and be at their best, so even before the pandemic we had encouraged flexible working and hybrid working for everyone in our team, and that has proven a great success in both attracting talent from all communities and giving the work/life balance that’s so important for both personal wellbeing and professional productivity.

 

Supporting the whole person, not just the skills they bring.

“When COVID hit we decided to champion extra flexibility – with core working hours  of 10am-3pm that enabled everyone in the team to work hours that really suited them. Some people are naturally ‘morning people’, others are night owls and many have family or other responsibilities – we support the whole person and their life, and not just the skills they bring. And we took that thinking further last summer, trialling a 4-day week with no salary decrease, which has proven a great success.

“We had some initial trepidation around making sure a 4-day week doesn’t affect delivery to clients – because we must always deliver – but the trial went really well: we talked constantly to our team and clients throughout, to evaluate productivity and make sure it worked to everyone’s benefit. It did, so we adopted a 4-day working week permanently in January – and the shift has been incredibly positive, moving us to a whole new level in terms of productivity and general wellbeing. The working hours have dropped and we still hit the deadlines and deliver on the deliverables – to such an extent that we’re de-mystifying it for many other organisations, including Myers Briggs in California who recently called us to discuss how it could work in their own organisation.

“The crux of it all is that we have been able to recruit and retain much more diverse talent because of the way we work – by giving access to people we hitherto wouldn’t have been able to attract – in an industry that’s not known for its strong diversity, particularly here in Wales. Retaining everyone in our team is so important as there’s only so much talent around – and our approach means that we can grow and learn together as a family, for the benefit of everyone.”

 

A team in the top 5% for social impact, globally.  

“For us, ‘bringing yourself to work’ means just that – and we share our passions and knowledge with each other, through half-hour ‘Jedi’ sessions where members of the team talk about something fundamental to them. So far, those half hour passion sharings have included everything from Seaweed Farming and Dungeons & Dragons to Swimming and, in my case, STEM outreach work with local schools. It’s about understanding more about what makes each of us tick as individuals – and genuinely celebrating each other as people rather than just colleagues.

“That type of inclusion-at-the-core is built-in to every project we undertake. We aim to deliver optimum access to every product – co-producing with the widest possible audience from the very beginning rather than leaving it until the testing stage at the end, factoring in as many individual thoughts and experiences as we can.

“That ethos of embedding inclusivity and accessibility at the very beginning of every project is not something that’s widely practised in Wales and the UK; and we’re proud to be leading that approach. It does means that we say ‘no’ to taking on projects that don’t fit our criteria of making a positive social impact, but sometimes we can turn that into a ‘yes’ by adding a social impact dimension to a prospective project – for example, allocating 10% of project revenues to charity or community works. We’re trying to get everyone on this journey, so we champion it in any way we can.”

“Taken together, our working culture, emphasis on co-production and commitment to Tech for Good has seen Big Lemon recognised and ranked in the top 5% of the world for enterprises such as ours in terms of making social impact. It’s a strong foundation to grow from – and we aim to do that, inclusively and inspirationally, from here in Wales.”

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