The core values the entire Sofokus team has discovered together are focusing on people, learning, being brave, creating value, and building trust. Although these values guide our daily actions and choices, it would be too easy to claim that we act automatically responsibly and no explicit documentation or plan is needed. Therefore, we have created our own Sofokus Ethics Strategy, our response to corporate social responsibility, diversity, inclusion, and sustainability.
The Sofokus Ethics Strategy is based on the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” by United Nations. The 2030 Agenda is adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, which provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future. At the heart of the Agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which are an urgent call for action in a global partnership. The goals recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. Sofokus has, however, taken the liberty to apply some of the global goals to a more local, manageable level.
In the following paragraphs, you’ll find a short introduction on how we’ve approached 11 of these SDGs. If you wish to get more information about the goals, you can visit the UN’s website.
GOAL 1: NO POVERTY
The global goal is to decrease the number of people living in extreme poverty to 3%. Supporting and accelerating entrepreneurship is one of the key action points to tackle the challenge. We believe this is something where we are making a huge contribution compared to our size.
The era of Composable Digital Hearts is just dawning, and we are confident we can lead the way to the next step of digital business. Our investment company, Sofokus Ventures, helps like-minded startups take the next step. We have invested in or worked with over 100 digitally driven companies and plan to invest in 20 new digital heart companies in the next two years.
We also do seminar speaking, judging, and coaching every year systematically:
- Kasvuopen.fi (2015 – ). The biggest start-up competition in Finland.
- Boostturku.com (2010 – ). University student entrepreneur society of Turku.
- Boardmangrow.com 2014 – ). Growth-oriented entrepreneur community.
- Sparkup.fi (2013 – ). Turku start-up community.
In addition, we are aware of the devastating fact that the highest number of people living in extreme poverty (38%) are based in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are therefore looking into our current partners to start cooperating by sharing our knowledge and skills to accelerate entrepreneurship in Africa.
We can also do smaller things to help someone close by in a difficult situation, such as by building a website for a local NGO (Veikko Hursti) or giving our corporate Christmas gift budget to the Salvation Army.
GOAL 2: ZERO HUNGER
According to research, strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacity of small-scale and family farmers is critical. Also concentrating on zero loss or waste of food is something that we all can be better in developed countries.
Fighting hunger is close to many of our clients’ hearts as well. For instance, Kauppahalli24, with whom we’ve been working since 2012, is challenging the traditional food chains in Finland by offering an alternative for consumers to get groceries delivered home straight from local food producers. Also, Venner Oy, to whom we have created the ordering and redemption systems for their popular Seasonal Food Boxes, is on a mission of guaranteeing every Finnish family healthy and nutritious meals.
At our office, we are concerned about what banana and coffee qualities we order and prefer sustainable, local, and organic alternatives. We take recycling very seriously and sort everything we can (electronic waste, paper, bio, plastic, cardboard, and combustible waste).
GOAL 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
Our organizational culture builds strongly upon purpose, happiness, and wellbeing. We want our employees to have a healthy work-life balance and feel happy – even on a Monday morning. What began as a simple set of in-house guidelines has grown to a holistic concept of wellbeing, a one-of-a-kind company culture, a unique organizational model, and a mission to make the world a happier place one Monday at a time.
These guidelines and missions crystallize into a simple promise to our people: Better Monday®.
Better Monday® is our organism management system that enables the fluent steering of our company while targeting the maximum happiness of our people. Every project we take up requires innovation which we would quickly run out of without highly motivated people and functioning working dynamics day in, day out.
The option for remote working, comprehensive occupational health services including therapy, sports, culture and massage benefits, and free workout classes have been self-evident to us for years. So have the smaller and more mundane happiness acts, such as regular fruit orders to the office, sending out a weekly newsletter with wellness tips, and organizing daily activities varying from meditation moments to game breaks.
However, we have promoted the actions mentioned above for over a decade, and today they are rather common in modern knowledge work. Therefore, we aim to maintain our pioneering position and consistently raise our happiness bar every year. For example, in 2021 we began supporting the resilience of our employees with free online mental health coaching and piloted the Sofokus Lifesaver Vacation, an additional, fully paid one-week vacation each employee can spend on fun and relaxation to reduce the pandemic fatigue we all must have experienced.
To ensure we live up to our promises and keep on exceeding expectations with Better Monday®, our Chief Happiness Officer Milla Heikkilä is dedicated to guiding our growing team towards our day-to-day and long-term happiness goals. She is also hosting our Better Monday® podcast, the mission of which is to inspire and encourage other companies to embrace a Better Monday® mindset. During its three seasons with inspiring guests and engaging topics around wellbeing at work, the Better Monday® podcast has gained thousands of listeners from all around the world.
We are not the only fans of Better Monday® – others love it too. Our culture is widely recognized in local media and we have given multiple interviews about our innovations in leadership and people happiness, while continuously attracting more top talents we can hire. We believe happiness is one of the best competitive advantages.
GOAL 4: QUALITY EDUCATION
We understand that keeping up with the world is only possible through lifelong learning. As learning is also one of our mutually discovered company values, we encourage our developers to use one day per week to improve themselves, Sofokus, or society however they like. We call these days Sofokus Freedom Fridays, and they have resulted in astonishing innovations and responsible outcomes in its life span. For instance, one group of people decided to help a local charity organization by renewing their website. Another group created a software tool to be used in customer deliveries speeding up the process. The way we see it, employee empowerment leads to employee engagement, which in turn creates happiness that results in performance improvement.
We also steer learning by enabling part-time working for student employees. In addition, we want to do our share in planning relevant education programs for future innovators. For example, we have a representative in Turku University of Applied Sciences’ advisory board. We have also done a lot of guest lecturing with Finnish schools and kept doing it in 2020 and 2021 as well, even though we weren’t able to meet the students face to face due to the Covid-19 situation.
GOAL 5: GENDER EQUALITY
Empowering women and girls is crucial in the tech industry since it’s one of the fields with the most gender division. We believe there are lots of things that can be done together with homes and schools to provide the tools by which girls and women could see the opportunities of the tech field. During the last few years, we have arranged Django Dames coding workshops for women as well as collaborated with Mothers In Business. We are also lucky to have several amazing ladies working for us in seriously responsible roles. For our employees, the most important factor to consider is the person’s interests and motivation. Gender and age are no factors to be taken into account while recruiting someone or supporting them in their career.
One of our main strategic objectives for 2020–2021 was to raise discussion around why women don’t find themselves in the technology field. This goal hasn’t unfortunately been fully reached due to the Covid-19 situation, so the battle continues. Our work has already started through our podcast that has interviews with women who can be seen as role models of the technology industry. We are also focusing on creating more conversation around this topic by using social media and other digital content.
We’re also looking into paternal leaves to see if we could better embrace them in our company culture. We wish to keep participating in schools’ parents’ evenings and other events and talk about all the cool things in the technology field. Through this work, we want to teach parents ways of encouraging their children to seek a career in tech if they want to without considering their gender as an obstacle.
GOAL 6: CLEAN WATER & SANITATION
We work together with Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority HSY. HSY is a municipal body, which produces waste management and water services, as well as provides information on the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and environment. HSY’s mission is to act as an enabler for clean and sustainable urban life. Cooperation between Sofokus and HSY focuses on creating an investment counter for evaluating water services investments for a million inhabitants in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
GOAL 7: AFFORDABLE & CLEAN ENERGY
As an information technology company, we have fewer alternatives to do concerning energy choices, since we don’t have a heavy supply chain. The most energy-consuming activity in our business is hosting our clients’ solutions. Sofokus is a certified Google Cloud Platform Partner enabling our clients’ data storage in Hamina, located in southern Finland. Google states that it commits to staying at 100 % renewable energy by purchasing the electricity for its data centres from local renewable energy producers. The cooling system in Google’s Hamina data centre is the first of its kind in the world. It uses seawater from the Gulf of Finland, which decreases energy consumption and makes computers act reliably.
GOAL 8: DECENT WORK & ECONOMIC GROWTH
Turo Numminen from Sofokus Ventures is an advocate for Junior Achievement Finland (Nuori Yrittäjyys). They provide tools and programs for schools on young people’s workforce readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship skills. In addition, we truly believe in young people and don’t evaluate potential employees based on their CV, previous working experience, or age. We want to see the potential, motivation to learn new things, and if they fit in our company culture.
GOAL 9: BUILD RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE, PROMOTE INCLUSIVE AND SUSTAINABLE INDUSTRIALIZATION, AND FOSTER INNOVATION
We believe in innovations and measurable value, whether economic, social, or environmental by nature. We also constantly seek something that hasn’t been done before. Thus, we have thrown away the traditional executive board and innovated transparent, equal, and companywide steering and decision-making model called The Expandables. Besides, we encourage everyone to utilize their Sofokus Freedom days to develop themselves, Sofokus, or the community. Innovations are many times the outcome.
We believe that no single company can hold all the best talent, and thus have also co-founded a new company (Coventures) building start-ups for corporations as a service. Customers get a broader talent pool, Sofokus and other service providers find new business opportunities, and employees get new exciting venture building opportunities.
GOAL 10: REDUCE INEQUALITY WITHIN AND AMONG COUNTRIES
As a software company, we operate with some amount of electronic waste that could be reused. We are looking for an organization to help us deliver these electronics, such as laptops, mobile phones, computers, and screens, to African schools where they could be used for teaching. We are also looking into different facilitated Freedom projects where our people could participate once a year to help in some sustainable act or goal.
GOAL 11: MAKE CITIES AND HUMAN SETTLEMENTS INCLUSIVE, SAFE, RESILIENT AND SUSTAINABLE
We have supported remote work for years and don’t expect people to come to the office every day – if at all. This helps in reducing excess commuting, especially between the different cities where our office spaces are located.
To conclude, we remind you that reaching all of our sustainability goals is a work in progress and shall continue until 2030.