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corporate social responsibility policy

Introduction

Welcome to our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy covering our offices in Highworth, Wiltshire and Jakarta, Indonesia.

We are proud to publish our commitment to being a socially-responsible, sustainable and ethical business. We believe that it is crucial for SME businesses like Reuben to take positive action in a range of areas to foster excellent working relationships with our clients and suppliers, and advance the wider digital sector in which we operate.

In this CSR Policy (first published in August 2023 and updated every quarter), we are setting out the Principles and Values by which we do business at Reuben, as well as establishing the Programmes of Action, for which we will set measurable targets and annually report on in subsequent years.

These are the principles and values we hold at Reuben:

Respect

Reuben Digital, and its employees, work within a robust environment of mutual trust and respect. This includes, but is not limited to, respect for colleagues, contractors, suppliers, clients and importantly, the planet.

Integrity

We will conduct our business with openness and integrity. We will not make promises above those which we reasonably foresee we can deliver. Our prices and our work ethics are transparent and we pride ourselves on our collaborative working approach with clients.

Honesty and Accountability

We will communicate our working practices and performance openly and honestly to our employees, clients and suppliers. We place accountability, and the trust that our clients place in us to find the best technological solutions and deliver them, at the core of what we do here at Reuben.

Loyalty

We pride ourselves on our long and close working relationships with our existing clients. The happiness of our clients (through delivery of projects with exceptional communication and project management) is our top priority. Retention of their custom is very important to us at Reuben.  We always value being an integral part of our clients’ digital team and continue to offer amazing support as required, after a project is delivered.

Compliance

We conduct business complying with the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 and conform to the 7 golden principles as defined by the ICO – that information collected or shared is 1) lawful, fair and transparent; 2) collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes; 3) that data processing is adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary; 4) accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; 5) stored appropriately; 6) that the security of data is assured; and 7) that we shall be accountable for the data we store. We work hard to comply with our client’s requests for data privacy and data sharing policies.

Agility

We are proud of the agile way in which Reuben’s team of specialist developers can deliver highly complex solutions within the agreed timeframe.

Sustainability

We are committed to delivering high performance and flexible solutions that don’t cost the earth by having a high carbon footprint.  Reuben Digital strives to have a positive impact on the world by helping good companies do good things.  We will therefore choose to partner with clients and suppliers in the future whose goals align with ours.  Currently, we are just at the start of identifying the principles with which we want to do business and our 2023 plan will see us setting out the direction in which we want to grow as a socially and environmentally-responsible business.  This CSR Policy will be updated with these findings in due course.

We want to set standards and milestones for the following Programmes of Action:

Environment

We are investing in becoming an environmentally-conscious business and want to be part of the leading edge of suppliers within the digital sector who are committing to becoming carbon net zero, in advance of the 2050 deadline set by the UK Government for all UK businesses.  By reducing our carbon emissions and offsetting the remainder to become carbon net zero, we are acting responsibly and playing our part in limiting global temperature rise by 1.5 degrees to avoid the worse effects of climate change.

We’re starting on this journey now because it aligns with the ethical ethos of the people that make up Reuben Digital.  We are part of the digital sector that, almost innocuously, emits up to 3.7% of global CO2 emissions and consumes 4.2% of global primary energy[1].  Compare this to the much-maligned commercial aviation industry which actually only accounts for 2-3% of global carbon dioxide emissions[2]!

It will take time to research and measure our impact on this planet, as well as look at our working practices to work in more environmentally-friendly ways and with lower carbon technology, but this Policy sets out our pledge to start on this journey today. 

Read our first Carbon Report (published 31 March 2024) for the years 2022 and 2023.

Along the way, we will challenge ourselves - on what values the company stands for, and the beliefs we are guided by, and the way we do business.  We have signed the Plant Based Treaty, a campaign to put food systems at the forefront of combating the climate crisis. Moving forward, we are committed to all future company paid-for, client entertainment to be sustainably sourced and 100% plant-based, where possible. We have also signed the Sustainable Web Manifesto which is a public declaration of a shared commitment to create a sustainable internet. By signing this manifesto, we declare our commitment to create a greener web. In addition, we have joined Tech Zero, a group for tech companies committed to climate action, pledging to measure and publish our scope 1-3 emissions.

Plant Based Treaty logo
Sustainable Web Manifesto
Tech Zero logo

 

  1. We have published our first Carbon Report which covers the years 2022 and 2023. This sets our base year as 2022 and explains our scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in detail. We have also set targets for the years ahead, as we work towards carbon net zero by 2050. Read our Carbon Report here.
  2. The Green Team have started to conduct an office working and IT efficiency audit, researching ways to increase performance on our PCs, whilst reducing power consumption. This will be continued into the next quarter.
  3. We have finetuned the programming for the central heating in our Highworth office, ensuring that we don’t heat the office over the weekend.
  4. Thermal blinds have been bought for the office, which can be drawn overnight to retain heat in the winter, and also during the day in the summer to reflect heat from the sun and keep our office environment cooler without the need for fans or air conditioning.
  1. The office move around the corner to Highworth’s High Street has raised multiple opportunities to design a more efficient office environment:
    • We were able to upcycle a lot of the building materials to save landfill waste. This included moving and reusing the existing kitchen from one floor to another, reusing existing toilets and sinks, water heater, cabling and reclaimed timber.
    • Energy-efficient LED lighting was installed in all areas of the new office. The new lights are motion sensitive, automatically switching on and off depending on whether the room is in use or not.
    • Our new office has a much newer and more efficient gas boiler, with fully programmable timer and thermostat. As winter draws on, we will be evaluating the need for thermal blinds to retain heat overnight and have subsequently installed them on all main windows of the office.  Over the winter we will be comparing the new office’s energy consumption with last year’s consumption at the old office.
    • We are on a 100% renewables electricity tariff with Valda Energy.
  2. We have formed a Green Team, a dedicated and multidisciplinary group of employees who work together on climate action and, more broadly, sustainability initiatives in a company. The group will meet every 2 months.
  3. Reuben Digital has started working with Ecologi, a B-Corp certified environmental organisation that helps companies and individuals measure their carbon emissions and facilitates the funding of carbon offset projects and tree planting around the world. Integrated with our Xero accounts system, it means that we should be able to publish our 2022 and 2023 scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions early in the New Year and subsequently start to set targets to reduce these. We were also able to purchase our first carbon credits, 12 tonnes of Co2e in fact, to offset Ray and Mark's flights out to our Indonesian office (see more under Investment in Employees).
  4. We have written a Sustainable Transport Policy – read it here.
  5. We have reorganised and republicised the office recycling and waste procedures so that bins are clearly labelled and the Highworth Team know exactly what can be recycled.

Technological innovation

At Reuben, bespoke technical innovation is integral to every client project.  We also pledge to develop solutions which conform to the following sustainable and ethical principles:

Building accessible websites

Published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), WCAG is the consensus standard for digital accessibility and how we measure the accessibility standards of the systems we build. Using Google Lighthouse to measure the design and structure of the sites we build, our target is to produce high scoring new websites and we will work with existing clients to assess the accessibility score for existing sites.

Building secure solutions

Our Microsoft Azure Cloud Hosting solutions are using state of the art Cloud and Virtualisation technologies, based in UK data centres, to provide fully backed up and secure hosting.  We install SSLs on all websites and regularly review security risk in conjunction with our clients utilising external penetration testing services for both websites and infrastructure.

We are currently finalising our Cyber Essentials Plus Certification.

We develop software utilising the Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) framework.

Building green solutions

The Internet consumes a lot of electricity, from the data centres, transmission networks to the devices that we use to connect to websites.  The average web page tested produces approximately 0.5 grams CO2 per page view [3]. For a website with 10,000 monthly page views, that's 60 kg CO2 per year.  We use a carbon calculator to measure the amount of Co2 given off by the websites we develop. By finetuning our future technology stack, design principles, using accessible fonts and agile content, we aim to produce new websites that have a lower carbon footprint than the industry average. 

Bringing this intentionality into our design and build protocol doesn’t just affect the energy usage – it'll also make a site perform better, make it more user-friendly, more accessible and better optimised for search engines.  It’s a win-win for client and planet!

This website is hosted Green - checked by thegreenwebfoundation.org

Our websites are hosted by Azure who, as a part of Microsoft, has been 100% carbon neutral since 2012. They’ve committed to being powered by 100% renewable energy by 2025, carbon negative by 2030, and by 2050, they plan to remove all of the carbon from the environment that the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.  We are therefore proud to display the Green Web Foundation’s logo on our own website to show the world that the hosting we have chosen is green.

Another of our major suppliers is Fasthosts – our domain registrar and email provider – and their UK data centres run on 100% renewable energy from offshore wind and biofuel.

Over the next 12 months, we will be evaluating all of our suppliers to see where they are on their sustainable future journey, and pledge to change suppliers if their principles do not align with ours.

  1. We continue to develop several client projects on our new technology stack, which is based upon the latest Microsoft ASP.NET Core / Blazor / C# frameworks and our adoption of DevOps to manage the projects is fast proving itself to be an excellent tool.
  2. Recently we conducted a performance audit for a website built by Reuben approaching 5 years ago, which was starting to show its age in terms of speed and performance. We were able to reconfigure the site with the latest image formats, carry out script and CSS optimisation to raise the website’s performance from 26% to 70% for mobile view and from 73% to 96% for desktop (PageSpeed Insights test, March 2023) – not a bad little MOT and a useful exercise we would like to extend to more of our long-serving clients.
  1. We have started developing the first client project on our new technology stack. This is based upon the latest Microsoft ASP.NET Core / Blazor / C# frameworks, and should give greater efficiencies on energy consumption, both server side, and client side, since there is less data exchange, and more computing is done at the server end of a user sessions, making browser usage lighter.
  2. We are in the early days of adopting DevOps as a methodology in our software development and management of software projects. It aims to increase our ability to deliver applications and services faster than traditional software development processes by automating and unifying processes.
  3. The Green Team (mentioned above) will initially start by measuring the green credentials of the new technology stack against our old offering, ensuring all that we’ve adopted the cleanest/greenest coding practices to roll out on future projects. It will also be reviewing all of the services we provide to clients with a view to reducing the carbon emissions of the finished “product”.
  4. We are researching how Artificial Intelligence (AI) might be incorporated into our technology in the near future.

Investment in employees

We have been a local employer in Wiltshire for over 20 years and are proud to have opened our first overseas office in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2022.

Our employees are our greatest asset. We strive to be a responsible employer by creating an environment that gives employees the desire and ability to flourish. We place great importance on professional and personal development and we are eager to provide employees with the tools to succeed.

We observe fair labour practices in both the UK and Indonesia, and provide flexibility in working arrangements, including part-time hours, flexible working days, “bring your dog to work” and regular working from home arrangements. 

We are an equal opportunities employer and seek to employ an ethically-diverse workforce.  We also positively encourage all genders to apply for job opportunities within Reuben Digital and would like to see more women in programming roles.

Reuben Digital has collaborated with Cirencester College since 2015 to offer an apprenticeship scheme for young people wishing to work in the digital sector.  Three employees have completed their apprenticeships with us and are now full-time, permanent members of staff, qualified in either a Digital Marketing or Web Developer Level 3 BTEC.

We also support the annual work experience week operated by our local schools, and each year have a young person spend a week at Reuben experiencing what it is like to work in a busy tech agency.

As we work on the detail of our CSR Policy, we will continue to offer employee benefits that empower, upskill and reward our staff.

  1. In January, we welcomed Winda Hidayat to the Indonesian developer team and therefore cracked one of our biggest challenges we had set ourselves – to recruit a women into a programming role finally! Not only is Winda a fun and warm team player but a really talented developer too, and she has taken every complicated programming job in her stride, so much so that she has passed her probationary period one whole month early. We hope that Winda will be the first of many women employed by Reuben in future years, ensuring that Gill (over in the Highworth office) is short of feminine company no more!
  2. We are proud to have joined the Climate Perks network helping staff choose clean travel by offering paid journey days for flight-free holidays. Since January, if our staff travel by coach, train or ferry instead of flying on holiday, we are giving them paid journey days, on top of their annual leave. This will encourage our employees to consider greener travel choices in their leisure time. Flying is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions globally so for those who love travelling, flying less is one of the most powerful actions we can take to protect the planet. We understand that annual leave is limited, making it difficult to choose slower transport modes - so we want to help staff live their values by ensuring flight-free travel doesn’t eat into leisure time. Find out more about Climate Perks.
  1. Founder Ray Stephens and Technical Director Mark Vincent visited our Jakarta overseas office in October. The trip incorporated training and mentoring opportunities, as well as sessions on the implementation of DevOps and our new technology stack.  It was also a great time for some team bonding…over an occasional beer too!
  2. Reuben Digital continued 2022’s successful wellbeing initiative by offering 3 “Welfare Fridays” to each employee to take in June, July and August. Not to be used in conjunction with annual leave, these Fridays aimed to give team members a long weekend to indulge in favourite sports or hobbies…or simply to rest up and relax!

Community and charitable work

Giving back to the local community, supporting the arts and sporting talent through company sponsorship has been at the heart of Reuben’s philanthropic principles from the company’s start. Some examples of our support are highlighted below:

  • Proud sponsor of Luke ‘The Duke’ Watkins, professional cruiserweight boxer since 2015, supporting Luke with the design, building, hosting and ongoing management of his website
  • Proud sponsor of 17 year old Domonic Newbury, one of the young rising stars of British Motocross, currently competing in the British Championships
  • Built and hosted the original website for the Keep Highworth Green project, when the old Council-owned golf course was earmarked for housing development until the decision was overturned in 2022
  • Complimentary hosting services for local Swindon voluntary organisation, Dial a Ride, which has been providing door-to-door transport services to provide a lifeline to help people get out more and be more independent.
  • Ray's lifelong passion for Jazz has led to a meeting of minds and a new friendship with the very talented and award-winning jazz saxophonist and author Simon Spillett. Reuben Digital has donated the creation of a formal blog and fresh new website to become a fitting permanent digital home to Simon's historically and culturally-significant writings, pictures and archive material.  Ray has also provided financial support (in addition to a crowd funding project), to enable the first new Big Band recordings of the arrangements and compositions of one of the UK’s most important modern jazz musicians, Tubby Hayes, to be made in 50 years. Acting in the capacity of “executive producer”, Ray was privileged to attend the recording session at the fabulous studios at the Trinity School, Croydon.

Having moved offices back to Highworth High Street very recently, Reuben Digital is looking forward to contributing to this vibrant market town and participating in some of the local events and initiatives.

  1. We will shortly be going live with an all-new website for Brighter Futures, the charity for Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Working in partnership with design agency Jazzbones, we have built this website at a special charitable rate.

 

Next update of this Policy

This Policy was last update 31 March 2024.  The next update is due at the end of June 2024.

References

[1] 4 pitfalls to avoid for an effective CSR policy by Greenly.earth

[2] Aviation Sustainability: Facts and figures

[3] The Website Carbon Calculator