How Binti’s Technical Teams Manifest Binti’s Values (Pt. 1 of 5)

At Binti, we strive to hire whole people -- not just technical human resources. Like the rest of the company, our engineering and product teams serve Binti’s vision: to help every child have a family and a more fair chance at life by re-inventing the child welfare system. We’ve created five guiding values:

Put The Child First

In every decision we make, we prioritize what’s best for the child or youth over everything else.

Create Love through Empathy

We value empathy and seek every day to show empathy to each other at Binti, as well as to the children, families, and social workers we work with through both our actions as well as the products we build. We value giving and receiving feedback to help us increase empathy toward each other. We strive to build a welcoming and inclusive workplace.

Embrace the Best Idea

Our mission drives us rather than our individual egos. That means that if another person has a better idea, we embrace it rather than trying to push our idea. We also feel comfortable dissenting and sharing a new idea because we are confident our teammates are also aligned to this value.

Empower with Information

We strive to share context across the team so that others can make informed decisions, as well as stay motivated by the impact of their work. We also want to enable our customers to use data to make better decisions to improve outcomes for children.

Break through Walls

We have a huge vision at Binti. Each team member is treated as an owner and is both encouraged and expected to figure out ways to solve difficult problems with creativity, resourcefulness and a can-do attitude. We believe that where there is a will, there is a way.

Our technical teams hold themselves accountable to these principles as we carry out our work. Below are some ways we manifest “Put The Child First” in our day to day conduct:

Put the Child First

Conducting user interviews: Binti strives to ground our product decisions in the perspectives of those most directly impacted by the child welfare system. We conduct interviews with social workers, foster parents, biological parents, industry experts, and children (currently and formerly experiencing foster care) to ensure that our core functionalities enable and incentivize what’s best for each child’s long-term well-being. To ensure that everyone at Binti has the opportunity to stay close to our mission, we keep these interview opportunities open to the rest of the company. (In fact, two of our engineers, Tina and Sen, led these interviews prior to our first product hires!) At the same time, we follow thorough pre-interview steps and guidelines to respect the privacy and sensitivity of the topics covered, and always provide interviewees with an opt-out should the conversation become too difficult.

Practicing a human-centered product philosophy: We believe that data can guide decision making, but people understand what other people need best. Binti’s product philosophy is to empower child welfare social workers with information about their cases, without using artificial intelligence to make decisions on their behalves. We know that social workers are best equipped to handle the nuances of their work and we try hard not to introduce algorithmic bias into our systems. Any algorithms we use are meant to support and enable workers, not replace them or make decisions on their behalf.

Folding in industry best practices: Binti stays connected to experts and analysts, across multiple states, who have studied the child welfare system. Our product integrates their decades-long learnings on best practices. For example, over the years, child welfare social workers have shifted to a practice of teaming: including as many members of the child’s network as possible in discussions. The product, in turn, will be built to allow default access to team members.

Focusing on child-driven metrics: The ways we measure success for each of our products feeds into our higher-level goals of finding every child a safe and loving home. Our metrics for Placements, for example, include reducing placement disruption per child. By contrast, an alternative metric that is useful, but isn’t centered around what is best for the child, would be increasing the total number of placements made for placement searches opened (as it doesn’t take into account the quality of the placement). In our Approvals module, we do strive to approve more foster families faster, but we focus on driving the number of our approved families that actually receive placements - indicating that we’re approving the right families.

The children and youth we serve are our first priority as we design and make Binti. We incorporate their well-being into the way that we make product and technical decisions - as we’re not just building another web application, but a child welfare service. This is only one of our five guiding principles, however. We’ll show how we incorporate the other four into our work in subsequent posts!