It doesn’t take long after a new employee joins Code42 for them to realize that we are a company that knows having values isn’t meaningful unless you truly LIVE the values. From the way we greet employees when they walk through the door, to the way we show them around the office, our cultural values are front and center. We assume positive intent. We get it done and do it right. We are not afraid. We believe that corporations should have more than solely an investor responsibility; they also should have a civic responsibility to “leave the world a better place.” For many of us at Code42, leaving the world a better place gives us a great purpose through work, one that encourages us to give back.
At Code42, we’re always striving to create a more diverse workplace. That diversity takes many forms, including but not exclusive to race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, spiritual belief, socioeconomic status, ability and disability. We try to encourage engaging in each dimension across our business.
Throughout 2018, we made strong strides to address diversity head-on. Going into 2019, we knew we wanted to accelerate our efforts on web accessibility within our product. There were two main events that precipitated that goal. First, a colleague gave a lightning talk about how accessibility improves the experience for all users, not just those with different accessibility needs. That talk really resonated across our team. Perhaps one of the most poignant examples of that talk was the “curb cut effect,” as highlighted in an episode of the 99% Invisible podcast. In the 1970’s, after cities began implementing curb cuts, they found that the impact of those accessibility improvements was wider-reaching than they anticipated. It turns out that everyone benefited by having access over the curb, whether they were in wheelchairs, on bikes, pushing a stroller, or towing a cart behind them.
The second event happened this year during the Superbowl. An ad caught my eye. Microsoft aired a commercial that debuted their Accessibility Controller, which allows anyone, regardless of their needs, to be able to use the controller effectively. They took a bold stance in the market with the phrase, “When we all play, we all win,” which struck right at the heart of the issue. Nobody should feel as though they cannot use or engage with a product. Put more succinctly, when technology empowers each of us, it empowers all of us.
So, what does that mean for Code42? We’re making a commitment to ensure our product is more accessible. While we can’t magically change where we are today, we can change where we go in the future. We’re happy to announce that we’ve launched an initiative called, “Acutely Aware for Accessibility.” The goal of this initiative is to ensure we test to WCAG 2.1 standards and begin to ensure the new capabilities we create use technology choices that empower everyone. No longer will it be acceptable to simply mark defects against the function of the product for mouse users who don’t employ assistive technology. Instead, we will now expect our employees and customers to log defects against our product when we fail to live up to the accessibility standards that we’ve set. In the coming months and years, we’ll be excited to announce more on this initiative and share our progress. For the time being, we want to emphasize our commitment to inclusion with our products here at Code42.
At Code42, our values define how we work, play and engage with each other, not just in the four walls of our workplace, but also in our community. Each day we are committed to leaving the world a better place. And each day when we arise, we know that while we’ll never reach the finish line of this journey, we know that we can contribute more back to the society that raised the caring, creative and innovative employees that we have here.