Wholegrain Digital was established with the objective of making a positive impact on the world by helping good people do good things, while working in a way that has minimal negative impact on society and the environment. Our ultimate goal is to create a company that has a genuinely positive impact on the world, and we’ll continually strive towards that goal.

A big part of the impact we have revolves around the type of projects we work on. We work with clients in many different industries and try to work with positive people on positive projects. This is determined on a case-by-case basis where we feel there is a good fit. However, we positively and negatively screen projects to ensure they fit with our values.

We primarily screen projects instead of clients, due to the fact that many organisations are complex and are engaged in many activities. It’s quite possible that a single client could be engaged in projects we would refuse to work on, while also being engaged in positive projects that we’d love to be involved with. However, there may be extreme cases where the parent organisation fails our screening to such an extent that the team feels uncomfortable being associated with them, even on a positive project. We would therefore decline that project.

Note on digital sustainability consulting: We have decided as a team that this screening process will not apply to digital sustainability consulting, where we are helping reduce the environmental impact of an organisations digital presence. However, there may still be cases where we decide to decline this type of work if we feel uncomfortable with the organisation or feel that the digital sustainability work is being used to support a greenwashing campaign.

Positive Screening (GREEN)

We aim to work on projects that:

  • Promote a healthy natural environment, such as clean energy and non-toxic goods
  • Reduce consumption of physical goods
  • Reduce waste
  • Raise awareness of important environmental, social and ethical issues
  • Tackle injustice
  • Promote animal welfare and conservation
  • Provide education
  • Encourage and support healthy lifestyles
  • Create and maintain a fair and well-functioning society

We also aim to work on projects where the client organisation:

  • Promotes fairness and equality in the workplace
  • Seeks to nurture positive long term relationships with our team, treat us as equal partners and respects us as individuals and professionals
  • Pays all workers fairly
  • Has strong, well documented social and environmental policies
  • Is a Certified B Corp, social enterprise, non-profit or public organisation

Negative Screening (RED)

We will not undertake projects that directly promote any of the following:

  • Animal agriculture and animal products
  • Arms, ammunition and conflict
  • Discrimination or extremism
  • Fossil fuels
  • Gambling
  • GM (that’s genetically modified crops, not General Motors!)
  • Irresponsible alcohol consumption, particularly when aimed at young people
  • Predatory financial services such as loan sharks
  • Tobacco
  • Unhealthy products aimed at children

We also aim to avoid working on projects where the client organisation:

  • Has staff who are abusive to our team or other suppliers
  • Has a proven record of lobbying against positive change
  • Has a proven record of environmental or human rights abuses

It isn’t always black and white (GREY)

In practice, many projects do not fit neatly into a particular category because real life is a lot blurrier. Many projects may fall into a grey area where they are seen neither as positive or negative, or may have a mixture of both positive and negative features, or have elements of things on our negative screening list but arguably do not directly promote these aspects.

If there’s ambiguity in a potential project, we should discuss it openly within the team and make a collective decision.

For some controversial topics that do not fall into our RED category, we will where available refer to the B Lab guidance on controversial issues. This includes, among other things:

  • Agribusiness producers in Brazil
  • Banking in Switzerland
  • Bottled Water Companies
  • For Profit Higher Education
  • Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Prison Industry and Labour
  • Serving Governments Tied to Human Rights Violations
  • Tax Advisory Services
  • Zoos, Aquariums and Animal Parks

Screening of existing clients

The above principles should not just apply to new clients.  We should always keep aim to ensure that our ongoing client relationships are healthy and aligned with our values and needs as a team.  In addition to keeping an eye on the above principles, we should also regularly check the following for existing clients:

  • Do we enjoy working with them and do they treat us with respect?
  • Are we the right fit for them and able to fulfill their needs?
  • Are they generally profitable?

This can be done at any time but project retrospectives are the ideal time to discuss this as a group.