Social Impact Leaders — Interview w/ Ben Ralph of Beaker & Flint
Ben Ralph is the Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder of Beaker & Flint. With a passion for untangling complexity, Ben is dedicated to innovation in the purpose-driven economy. He focuses on how technology can make the world better with solutions that can be broken down and thoroughly tested (mostly using Agile iterations).
Equipping B&F clients, such as Oxfam and WWF, with the technology, tools and skills to thrive and focus on what’s really important. Ben works collaboratively with clients to design for change while balancing user needs, business goals and technology opportunities. For him, seeing creative ideas come alive and witnessing positive outcomes is only half of the fun. Making a genuine impact in the community is the main goal of his hard work and innovation.
Conducting in-depth ethnographic user research allows him to find opportunities for innovation within a diverse range of industries and environments. He is committed to identifying significant (and real) user problems for purpose-driven organisations and providing a tailored solution for the best user experience.
Over his ten year career in the application and web development field, he gained hands-on experience across a broad spectrum of roles, including development, user research, UI and interaction design as well as product and team leadership. Most recently building Iterate.Academy and having attained certifications in ‘Design for Change’ from Ideo University and ‘Digital Disruption: Digital Transformation Strategies’ from the University of Cambridge, Judge Business School.
Social Impact — What meaning do you personally associate with this term?
Even the small things can make a big difference when it comes to social impact.
Social Responsibility — What is your best practice to integrate it into your daily life?
I’m committed to being sustainable at home first. I embrace doing the little, everyday things, like recycling, composting and shopping local. Buying into the big flashy things, such as purchasing an electric car or installing solar, is a great option if you can afford to do it, so long as we are actively taking responsibility and being mindful of the impact of our actions.
Purchasing Power — What is it all about, and why is it real power?
I acknowledge that looking at social impact from a big picture perspective can seem a bit daunting when it comes to change. It seems very hard to individually make a difference, but one thing we can do is make mindful choices.
Specifically, you can use your wallet to create demand for sustainable and ethical products and be vocal about your experience so other people can join the movement.
Commercial — From your point of view, what are the commercial practices that are unhealthy to humanity?
One thing I learned is to pick the right clients. This is a hard one for businesses because it can mean leaving money on the table in the short term. Saying ‘No’ to paying clients because they aren’t aligned with you ethically is tough. BUT, if you have the right clients, they will work with you as partners to achieve your goals as an organisation.
The Future — What is your personal outlook on the future?
At Beaker & Flint, we’ve always been passionate about running a socially conscious business, but it wasn’t until the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 that we were forced to reflect. We consciously decided to make being a purpose-driven company a foundational pillar of the business. I found this to be one of the easiest decisions to make as a Co-Founder as it meant everything we did from then on would be built on being a purpose-driven company. It was no longer just a “nice to have” when times are good.
Change — What do you personally think needs to change — from a consumer perspective and within the corporate world?
In light of the “Great Resignation”, as well as the corporate world embracing digital transformation with remote work, hiring people who are aligned and passionate about your purpose has never been more important. This sounds easy but, in practice, it can be very difficult. Everyone says that they care, but few are willing to make the trade-offs required to work for a purpose-driven organisation. When you hire the right people for your organisation and trust them in their role, the rest basically falls into place.
Is there anything you would like to share that we have not asked you here?
Applying to become a BCorporation has enlightened us at Beaker & Flint. With this certification, we are putting our money where our mouth is from a business perspective. Going through the certification process forces us to reflect and ask the hard questions. From reducing flights to finding ethical suppliers, it upholds a clear standard to be accountable to. Being BCorp certified ensures that organisations do both the big and small things when it comes to ethics, social impact and sustainability, not just the fluffy, nice stuff that sounds good in social media posts.
Connect with Ben Ralph on LinkedIn.
Demee Koch about the MEDIUM interview series on Social Impact:
Hello! I am a serial entrepreneur practising conscious entrepreneurship. This is an interview series about social responsibility and the best practices in incorporating it into our daily lives.
Every day, we make an impact consciously and subconsciously. It is implemented through our actions.
A great example of this is the practice of our Purchasing Power where we can actually direct our impact by consciously deciding which brands and companies we nourish.
I interview change advocates about best practices for incorporating social consciousness into our daily lives, and practices in the business world that need to change for the benefit of social responsibility.
With this interview, we invite the reader to reflect their every day actions. We all have an impact, and if we are consciously aware of that, we can be empowered to start the change for a better future.
Thank you for being the change. I’m looking forward to learn from each one of you. Reach out to me via LinkedIn.