Chris is our Head of Social Purpose at Yoti. We sat down for a chat with him to hear about all the exciting things he does, inside and outside of Yoti.
To better understand my role I think it’s worth first highlighting that Yoti is quite an unusual business!! In our first ever blog our Founders referred to the key to the success of Yoti lying in trust and as such, we have adopted a fairly radical set of principles. This is an endeavour where the importance of commercial return has been placed behind the importance of transparency, accountability and the maximisation of social impact.
Yoti’s core mission to become the world’s trusted identity platform is in itself socially purposeful. Fundamentally Yoti strives to make identity fraud significantly harder to perpetrate and it empowers individuals to take back control of their personal data. Our business model, technical architecture, privacy by design and data minimisation principles, and our Guardian Council have all been developed to maximise our social impact. So in fact the whole Yoti team is engaged in our social purpose and my role, rather than being within a single function, is to draw those strands together across multiple functions.
Broadly my role can be broken into three areas:
The activities of this third area – grant-making, facilitating staff volunteering and use of the Yoti office space for non-profit benefit – will be coordinated by the Yoti Foundation which has just been set up and led by my colleague, Anna.
In multiple ways 🙂 Firstly we are gifting use of the Yoti platform to charities. Some of the typical charity use cases for Yoti are biometric login to their websites (eliminating the need for usernames and passwords) – building up their cyber security and response to GDPR capacity, ID verification for volunteer onboarding, verified ID for venue access as a safeguarding measure and age/gender verification for young person’s topic based chatrooms on say sexual or mental health.
Secondly we run charity hack events. In these we explore how challenges around identity play out in a charity’s internal processes or external services and see what role Yoti could play in a solution. These are typically not an ‘out-of-the-box’ solution and require building an application that builds on the core Yoti product. More on our hacks below.
Thirdly we encourage our team to use their 5 ‘selfie days’ for volunteering to support charities and socially impact projects with their time, skill and experience.
Fourthly, having recently moved to a great spacious office, we offer some of the more open public spaces for use by non-profits. This could be used for other hacks, tech for good events, charity board or team meetings or just informal ad hoc office working space for those smaller charities with a distributed team to have an occasional London meeting point.
Finally, through the Yoti Foundation, we will be proactively seeking funding opportunities to support selected charities who fit with the strategic aims of our charitable arm.
Too many to mention here but NSPCC, CentrePoint and GoodGym have all built apps coming out of our first charity hack. The Scouts, The Mix and Ada (National College for Digital Skills) are all using the Yoti MyVenue platform for visitor sign-in. And we have a digital capacity building partnership with Ambition, a leading youth charity and umbrella member organisation for many household name youth charities.
Our SDKs and plugins range from a few minutes to about half a day for a mid level developer. The challenge for the charity sector though is that they are typically not blessed with a well resourced digital/technical team. So my colleague Kiran, who always has a socially purposeful glint in her eye (!), will often offer to do the integration pro-bono. If Kiran’s time is too stretched then we have a partnership with the UK’s leading free coding bootcamp Founders and Coders and are well integrated with the broader tech for good community. So we will always seek to find cost-effective developer support who have the right social DNA.
We received very positive feedback from the 8 charities that participated in our first hack event which was run over a week earlier in the year. The format for that one was a design hack where charities were asked to highlight a challenge involving identity and be facilitated through a process to then pitch an idea to solve the challenge and build it into a proof of concept. The 3 winning pitches were awarded a month’s worth of developer time from our partners Founders and Coders. Our collaborative approach with the broader tech for good community is explained in this NPC guest blog and two of the prize-winners have been written up as case studies: NSPCC’s is here and CentrePoint’s is here.
We have also twice hosted the team from Enabling Enterprise facilitating mini design hacks for Year 5 primary school students with support from our volunteer staff members.
Yes absolutely, we are planning a number of different formats in terms of themes and timescales. We want to explore some focus areas such as anti-human trafficking, refugee movements or homelessness as well as continue to have an open expressions of interest invite for design hacks over a shorter timescale. Our next scheduled hack is on September 19th and details can be found here.
BCorps are required to consider the impact of their decisions on their employees, suppliers, community, consumers, and environment as well as shareholder value. This certification allows us to introduce conversations about our social and environmental impact into the company, community and the boardroom. We are inspired by this movement that overwhelmingly proves the feasible harmony of business interests with social purpose and environmental responsibility.
We were thrilled to be one of the first UK companies certified when BCorps – the ‘Fair Trade’ for business – crossed the pond in September 2015. Back then, we were a fledgling company founded with strong principles, and saw a synergy with the BCorp commitment to business being a force for good in the world.
Two-years on, and we’re celebrating our re-certification. This time, we not only had to provide proof that we met high social and environmental standards, we were also one of the BCorps randomly selected to be audited. We’d grown from a small team to over 150 staff members since our first certification, so we had to show that we’d kept our values alive in spite of a lot of change. It was tough – but rightly so – and we’re proud to have made the grade once again.
Being a BCorp not only invites you into a community of over 2,100 socially motivated businesses, but it also prompts us to consider the impact of our decisions on our employees, suppliers, community, consumers, and environment.
Given my role I guess I really have to say our social purpose! But just to expand on that slightly, the only way we can deliver on our social purpose is through our people. So I’m most passionate about the great team we’ve assembled here who genuinely seem to want to use their diverse range of talents in pursuit of our ambitious mission.
Yoti is a really powerful tool to help put you back in control of your precious personal data and keep you safer online: create your Yoti once and use it for life 🙂
If you’re a charity interested in Yoti, would like to get involved in one of our hacks, or have any other questions for Chris, please get in touch.