Every company has a set of values (or business ethics) that drives their work. Whether those values are ethical or not, that’s a different story. Being Good – as you learned in the last post, means being ethical. It means doing our best to deliver solutions, not taking advantage of people, and giving our clients the freedom to walk away if they want to.
Being Good and Doing Good are two sides of the same coin, they affect one another, they can’t exist without one another. In order to do good, you must be good, in order to be good, you must do good. You can’t say you’re a good company, if you don’t do the things that good companies do.
You can be good in a lot of ways. ‘Doing Good’ can mean something different to everyone, which is why we knew that we need to get specific about it.
Doing Good came down to two important things for us:
- Who we work with.
- How we make things.
Rule 4: Work with clients that align with your values.
We realized that we do our best work when we can get behind the cause of our clients—their mission, their reason for existing and creating the work that they do. For example, it wouldn’t make sense for us to work with a tobacco company, when we both felt that their products killed people.
We want to work with people who are trying to make a positive difference in the world. We can get behind their mission and understand what drives them—it becomes our inspiration and drives us to do our best work.
We chose to work with The Tempest because they were striving to become a platform that gave a voice to people who are underrepresented in the media, such as women of colour.
We work with Imaginea Energy because they are an oil company working to change their industry, to innovate, and to bring in a lot more environmental responsibility than currently exists.
We worked with Zainab Rights because they want to bring a new and alternative voice to the political conversation in the world, and to highlight causes that have been ignored by mainstream media—causes that shouldn’t be ignored, like the plight of Syrians.
Rule 5: Empower your clients.
You can create something that works exactly how it should, something with great design, something that’s going to help your clients. However, a good website is one that doesn’t curtail the client. A good website opens up opportunities for them they hadn’t yet contemplated. It shows them new ways they can engage with their audiences, provides them with new magical powers that allow them to create things on their website that they never thought they could before.
For example, we crafted an easy to use system that removed the design frustrations of Book A Muslim—an agency that helps event organizers book muslim speakers, performers, and artists. We moved them away from Wix, where they had to keep track of every font size and design element, to WordPress, where the style details were taken care of and they could focus on their content.
We gave them extremely flexible page templates that opens up possibilities for new layouts and design. Layouts that work with their content instead of against it. We also created a smooth intake process for bookings that helps them take charge of their sales process in a confident and organized manner. Listening (aka being good) lets us empower our clients (aka do good) so they can achieve more than they could before.
A good website opens doors to more things; it doesn’t just do the job it was asked to do.
A good product, a good service empowers the client and puts them in a position to accomplish things they never could before.
Rule 6: Build work relationships on a foundation of trust.
When you do that—be good and do good—you inspire trust. Your clients know that when you say something, it’s real and true. They can rely on you to make things happen. They can ask you for advice without trying to look between the lines to find the nugget of knowledge that they need—you’ll give it to them straight. They can be at ease around you, be transparent with you, because they know you’ll be transparent with them.
This likely means that your clients will give you more business. They’ll talk about you with other people and refer more business to you. When you are trustworthy, you end up creating a work relationship with connection.
One of our very first clients was a local non-profit chapter that administers the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer here in Canada—marked by the famous iron ring that graduated engineers wear as a sign of their commitment to be honourable practicing engineers. Two years later, when they needed more work done, they came back to us, and also brought along a new client for us to work with.
A work relationship without connection is where both parties expect the other to only look out for their own profit and benefit, with no real thought to whether it’s at the expense of the other or not. When you add trustworthiness into the mix, a connection—an understanding—is formed. The relationship is, yes, about profit and benefit to oneself, but not at the expense of the other person.
So What’s the Point of Being Ethical?
This has definitely been a work in progress, and our code of ethics has been constantly evolving. Our adherence to that code is also, admittedly, a work in progress.
However, we’ve learned that the more aligned we are with our ethics, the happier we are and the better we work. Aiming to adhere as closely as possible to our own code of ethics, then, is important for our bottom line; it has meant becoming more profitable.
We deliberately empower our clients to be able to take care of their own websites—if that’s the way they choose to go. We make sure we create something that will grow with them and help them do things they couldn’t before. We’ve committed to being transparent and honest with our clients, to building relationships with them on the foundation of trust.
In return, we’ve increased our revenue without having to constantly seek out a lot of new clients—because not only do our past clients keep coming back with more work for us, they consistently refer new clients to us as well.
Being ethical has helped us become profitable; it has put us in a place where we’re happy running our business and proud of the work we’re doing. That’s the point of all this—to be profitable, happy, and proud.