Contentsquare’s journey to becoming a mission-driven company


Jonathan Cherki

May 15, 2024 | 5 min read

Last Updated: May 20, 2024

Looking back on our journey of building this company, I’ve seen our priorities evolve over time, mirroring the different stages of growth and development. 

In the beginning, it was all about setting up the basics and establishing ourselves. Every day was a new challenge, and I learned by taking risks and making mistakes. As we grew and expanded, our focus shifted to driving revenue and building Contentsquare into a business that was poised for sustained growth. I started thinking more strategically, focusing on the bigger picture and long-term goals. 

As we continued to evolve, I realized that achievement isn’t just measured by financial metrics. That has been perhaps the biggest learning curve of them all because it forced me —and us— to think completely differently about what we do and why we do it.

While our core business is delivering insights to improve the customer experience, we’re very serious about building a responsible business that contributes to a brighter future, and playing our part when it comes to addressing the significant challenges facing the world today. That’s why we’ve become a mission-driven company. 

Our mission is clear: “to empower businesses to create a world where everybody gets the experience they love, seek and deserve — an experience that is accessible, inclusive, trustworthy and sustainable.” To help us progress on this journey, we’ve broken this mission down into three very concrete objectives:

  1. Enable a digital world, which is accessible and inclusive to all.
  2. Help our customers reduce the environmental impact of their digital activities.
  3. Build a trusted digital world by enhancing confidentiality, privacy, and protection of data on the internet. 

This shift means a deep commitment on our part to accountability and dedication. It means introspection and a willingness to fundamentally transform our organizational mindset and practices. And it’s not a decision that just happened overnight.

How it started: embarking on our journey of impact

It all started in 2020, when we acquired AdaptMyWeb (AMW). A French startup with ambitious goals, AMW had developed an assistive technology to help users with visual or cognitive impairments better access the web. I’d met their CEO and Founder, Marion Ranvier, who completely opened my eyes to the issue of online accessibility. It was Marion who made me understand that better online experiences had to mean inclusive experiences — especially with an estimated 1 Billion people around the world living with a disability that affects their ability to read the web and only 70% of web content is accessible. Acquiring AMW gave us the expertise and resources we needed to make digital accessibility a serious focus mirroring the efforts made in the physical world to eliminate access barriers. 

Soon after, we launched the Contentsquare Foundation. Run by Marion, the Contentsquare Foundation champions digital accessibility through education, advocacy work and by supporting research. This was a huge moment for us because it meant becoming part of a movement and transforming our company mindset to think accessibility first. We’re not perfect and we have a long way to go, but we’re learning and committed to doing the work. 

At the end of the day, we are software developers. We build technology that helps other businesses grow and thrive. And while there’s no doubt that digital technology has greatly benefited humanity, it’s also important to acknowledge that it’s brought about a number of negative consequences. And not just the inaccessibility of the Internet. Compromises around privacy, the high energy consumption needed to sustain the physical infrastructure of the web — all of these are byproducts of rapid digitization. And it’s our responsibility to recognize these issues and actively work to address them. It’s not just about building technology; it’s about building technology that serves people responsibly and sustainably, making a positive contribution to society.

We wanted to extend that impact work we had started around digital accessibility into other areas, and start the internal transformation needed to deliver on our promises. And that’s why we decided to build out our Impact team. By 2022, we had implemented ESG reporting processes and set our first company sustainability goals. 

What’s been done so far

Ultimately, our vision is for Contentsquare to be the go-to platform to understand people and instantly deliver the right experience for them. And understanding people also means understanding what they care about — things like inclusivity, sustainability and trust. 

Officially becoming a mission-driven company is just another step in this journey, and is about ensuring these goals are embedded in everything we do. It gives us a framework for accountability and subjects our progress to independent evaluation. 

We recognize that these actions contribute to a larger movement — that’s why we’re embracing various initiatives and frameworks used by others in our ecosystem. We joined The Climate Pledge in 2023 to help trace our path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement’s target. As a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, we integrate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our practices and reporting. 

In 2022 we received a bronze medal in our Ecovadis rating, which is a start. We’ve been optimizing our cloud infrastructure and incorporating eco-design principles into our product development. We’re always looking for new ways to reduce our environmental impact, whether by revising our procurement process or implementing new workplace rules to reduce waste.

And while we continue to expand in these new areas of impact, the Contentsquare Foundation is continuing on its trajectory of change through advocacy and education. In the past year, the team trained 19,000+ people on the fundamentals of Digital Accessibility, with 80% of trainees enrolled at 4 top Tech Schools in France. It addressed more than 500 companies on the importance of digital accessibility. Our free, assistive software Readapt was downloaded 1,800+ times with 77,500+ digital texts adapted by Readapt users, including people with visual impairments or reading difficulties such as dyslexia. 

We’re making baby steps, but we’re proud of the way our mission has been embraced in all corners of the organization. 

Lessons learned along the way

After so many years of focusing on innovation and growth, adding social and environmental impact to our company strategy was a real learning curve. I had no experience with it, and I also knew nothing about acquiring a company until Contentsquare made its first acquisition. Like many other firsts, we learned by doing.

What was immediately obvious was that to really make a positive impact, we’d need everyone in the company to feel involved in our mission — not only the executives, and not just the impact team. For that reason we’ve approached impact as a company-wide movement, focusing on awareness, education, and empowering our team to be agents of change. We’re all building this company together — especially when it comes to our identity and what kind of company we want to be.

From delivering free training courses in the basics of digital accessibility through the Contentsquare Foundation to offering services that are as eco-designed as possible, putting on more sustainable events to working with the CNIL on our privacy roadmap, we’re looking at our business activities through the lens of impact and learning so much along the way.

It’s been incredible to see everyone rise to the challenge — our engineers, marketing team, accessibility experts, procurement, workplace teams and everyone else, too.

We know we’re at the very beginning of this journey and we’re humbled by the task ahead. If you’re interested in tracking some of our very early milestones, check out our first sustainability report and our latest Foundation activity report

Thank you for joining us on this incredible journey. And most of all, thank you to everyone at Contentsquare who is helping to carry this mission — whether it’s learning something new, changing a habit or behavior, or starting a project, it all matters.

I’m excited to see what we can do together and more importantly, what we’ll learn along the way.