Atomo: the Seattle startup set to take on Starbucks and change the way we drink coffee
From origins as humble as the coffee bean, Seattle startup Atomo has taken the first steps down the road to changing the way the world drinks coffee forever. Conceived by food scientist Jarret Stopforth, Ph.D, Atomo’s new ‘molecular coffee’ is the result of an attempt to reverse engineer the coffee bean. The result is a naturally-derived and sustainable coffee substitute that contains no coffee beans.
"I love coffee, but every day I was adding cream and sugar to mask coffee's bitter flavor," said Stopforth. "By replicating the taste, aroma and mouthfeel of coffee, we've designed a better tasting coffee that's also better for the environment."
In January 2019, a study was released by Science Magazine stating that 60 percent of the world's coffee species were in danger of going extinct in the next 50 years due to climate change, population expansion, and disease. Combined with the large contribution that the cultivation of coffee makes to deforestation, Atomo is working to disrupt the global coffee market.
That market is worth US$100bn a year, according to Business Insider, which also found that “after crude oil, coffee is the most sought commodity in the world.” Each year humans consume over 500bn cups of coffee, and over 25mn people earn a living as coffee farmers.
Atomo's goal is to create an amazing cup of coffee and reduce the global demand for coffee beans, thus minimizing deforestation and destruction caused by commercial coffee farming. In recent blind taste tests at the University of Washington, Atomo coffee beat Starbucks by 70%.
Currently, the company has surpassed its $10,000 funding goal on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, reaching just over $15,000 with 21 days to go. Backers who make sufficient donations will receive early release consignments of the company’s product, with a full commercial release expected in Q4 2019.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.