This Code of Conduct outlines our expectations for all those who participate in the Founder Institute, Incorporated (the “Company”) events or program sessions; as well as the consequences for unacceptable behavior. The primary goal of the code of conduct is to create a welcoming, safe, respectful, and inclusive environment for people who share our values of tolerance and inclusivity for everyone that participates in a Company-sponsored event, program session, or activity.
To that end, we have adopted this code of conduct in order to support and welcome all members of our community, with a specific emphasis on marginalised groups. Our goal is to protect and include the rights and freedoms of people from every race, ethnic group, gender, or gender preference, sexuality, religion, ability, economic status, health status, and social preference. This includes people from marginalised racial or ethnic groups; women and people who identify as non-binary; people who identifiy as gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual, and asexual; people with a disability; people who are neurodivergent; marginalised religious groups; higher weight people; parents and caregivers; and people who are of a lower economic status (Marginalised Groups).
We recognise that the power relationship between (a) Founders; and (b) Company Staff, Local Leaders, and Mentors is heavily weighted in favour of the latter, similar to the employer/employee or teacher/student relationship, even prior to their acceptance into a Founder Institute program. As such, we are especially aware of the potential for abuse or harm by the more powerful person. We encourage staff, Local Leaders, and Mentors to take into account this imbalance of power in all of their interactions with Founders and be especially careful to avoid using their power to coerce the founder, intentionally or unintentionally.
We expect everyone associated with the Founder Institute to abide by this code of conduct, including employees, contract workers, founders, Local Leaders, Mentors, investors, advisors, volunteers, speakers, vendors, customers, and attendees of our events. This code of conduct applies to all of these people in any setting associated with the Founder Institute, including offices, work events, social outings, conferences, homes, lodging, phone calls, video conferences, emails, chat, social media, blogs, or other online communication.
The Founder Institute may take action against a person based on other information or behavior outside the community if, in our judgement, there is an unacceptable risk to its membership from that person.
Comments or behavior that discriminates against, stereotypes, or harms members of Marginalised Groups. This includes but is not limited to:
- Disparaging remarks about marginalised racial or ethnic groups;
- Racial or ethnic slurs;
- Misogynist comments;
- Homophobic or transphobic comments or slurs;
- Deliberate misgendering;
- Deliberate use of names people have asked others not to use;
- Negative comments about body size or shape;
- Discriminating against pregnant people or mothers;
- Discriminatory comments against members of marginalised religions as a group; and
- Negative comments or discriminating based on age or family role.
Creating a sexualised environment. This includes but is not limited to:
- Sexual or sexually suggestive comments, jokes, insults, and metaphors;
- Discussing the sexual attractiveness or exploits of yourself or others, even if intended to be a compliment;
- Unsolicited comments on someone's body to them or to others, even if intended to be a compliment;
- Unsolicited comments on someone's self-presentation (dress, shoes, makeup, hair) that are sexually suggestive;
- Detailed discussion of sexual preferences or activities (i.e., mentioning the gender or existence of your partner(s) may be appropriate, discussing sexual preferences in hair colour or body shape or type of sexual activity is not);
- Displaying sexual images where others can see them, including your personal computing devices if others might be able to see the screen;
- Viewing or discussing sexually explicit or arousing content;
- Patronising or discussing personal patronisation of sex workers;
- Meeting in sexualised environments (e.g., strip clubs);
- Organising business-related activities which require less or no clothing (e.g. meeting in hot tubs or saunas);
- Creating an environment where people feel pressured to flirt, allow touch, dress in a sexualised manner, or otherwise engage in sexual or sexualised activity (e.g. in order to maintain access to networks, succeed in the program, or source potential funding); and
- Requesting others to keep unethical sexual activity secret or help cover it up.
Sexual advances when they are clearly unwelcome, or in a context where it is difficult for the recipient to say no to your advances.
Specifically, this code of conduct bans all sexual advances initiated by a person with significant power over the recipient, such as a person who influences program decisions towards a Founder within a program, a conference organiser towards a speaker, or a co-worker towards another co-worker if they have influence over their career advancement. We strongly recommend that people in positions of greater power turn down sexual advances from someone they hold significant power over.
Sexual advances include but are not limited to:
- Invitations to meet one-on-one in a situation not suited for business or for mainly non-business purposes (e.g., meeting at a bar with loud music and dim lighting);
- Invitations to meet one-on-one in a private space such as a hotel room, home, apartment, home office, or an office when no one else is likely to be present;
- Showing up uninvited to someone else's private space, such as their hotel room, their home, apartment, and home office;
- Making sexual comments, in person or by sending text messages, emails, voice messages, letters, or other form of communication;
- Sending sexual photos or videos or sounds, of yourself or others;
- Implying sexual availability (e.g., "I get lonely in my hotel room");
- Sexually themed gifts; and
- Significant non-consensual escalations of intimacy.
Sexual assault or coercion, including sexual activity under pressure of threat, for a reward, or in a context where it is difficult for the recipient to say no. This includes but is not limited to:
- Any sexual activity or touch without the express consent of all participants;
- Implicitly or explicitly requesting sexual activity in exchange for reward including program success, funding, referrals, future employment, promotion, or invitation to exclusive events;
- Retaliating, threatening to retaliate, or implying retaliation against someone (e.g. defaming, firing, withholding promotion, blocking interviews, giving negative reviews, or blocking funding);
- Beginning a sexual relationship with someone you have significant power over;
- Non-consensual sexual activity of any kind, including with people you know or suspect to be underage, trafficked, forced, coerced, threatened, unconscious, mentally impaired, or unable to say no easily for whatever reason;
- Creating an environment where people feel pressured to use drugs or alcohol, such as refilling someone's drink when they aren't looking, pressuring people to use drugs or drink more, engaging in drinking games, asking why people aren't drinking or using drugs, withholding rewards if people don't drink or use drugs;
- Giving anyone any drug (including alcohol) without their fully informed consent (exception for medical personnel or in life-threatening emergencies);
- Deliberately exposing one's genitals without consent of all viewers;
- Engaging in sexual activity when you know that other non-consenting people can see or clearly hear it; and
- Using threats to reveal sexual activity, information, or photos to control someone.
Unwanted physical touch, restraint, assault, or threats. This includes but is not limited to:
- Deliberate touch that is inappropriate for a business relationship (e.g. intentionally brushing up against someone, touching someone to get their attention unnecessarily, caressing someone's face);
- Physical violence, threats of physical violence, or incitement of physical violence towards any individual or marginalised group;
- Encouraging self-harm;
- Physically pinning or trapping people (e.g., standing so that someone can't get out from behind a desk, pinning someone to the wall, or standing in a doorway and refusing to move); and
- Not allowing a person to leave a room, vehicle, seat, or other space, except in an emergency or to prevent greater harm.
Harassment, stalking, and inappropriate use of personal data or information. This includes but is not limited to:
- Obtaining, using, and/ or publishing personal data or information such as personal details, email addresses, and personal assessment data for reasons not required in the conduct of reasonable duties;
- Seeking out, using, and/or publishing private information without consent such as previous names, home address, personal assessment data, or names of family members;
- Sharing or storing personal data, or information for future use without the express consent of the owner;
- Staring, leering, or following without consent;
- Photography or video or sound recording of someone that is done to make someone feel surveilled, or surreptitiously, or when there is an expectation of privacy, or when the subject has explicitly asked to not be photographed or recorded (we highly recommend asking for consent for all recording);
- Continued contact after a request to stop contact, even if for some positive purpose such as apologising or making amends; and
- Encouraging or enabling harassment by others.
Attempts to circumvent or weaken this code of conduct or its purpose. This includes but is not limited to:
- Advocating for or supporting any unacceptable behavior;
- Minimizing, excusing, or defending any unacceptable behavior (e.g. rape apology, blaming the victim, tone policing of victims);
- Prioritizing the comfort of privileged people over the safety of marginalised groups;
- Advocating for or supporting the oppression of marginalized groups;
- Criticizing targets of oppression for having an inappropriate emotional state in response to an unacceptable behavior (tone policing);
- Deliberately making a false report;
- Threatening, rewarding, or otherwise coercing someone to not report or lie about a violation of the code of conduct; and
- Engaging in any unacceptable behavior satirically or ironically if you are not a member of the marginalised group being mocked (e.g. ironic racism by someone not a member of the targeted racial group, a man imitating a misogynist person).
Reporting and enforcement
If you are a witness or subject to unacceptable behavior or have any other concerns, please notify the Company as soon as possible.
Employees, contract workers, vendors, customers or anyone else that does business with the Company who feels that they have been harassed or discriminated against, or who witnesses any harassment or discrimination by an employee, contract worker, vendor, customer or anyone else who does business with the Company, should immediately report such conduct to their supervisor, any other member of management or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All complaints will be treated anonymously.
Do not allow an inappropriate situation to continue by not reporting it, regardless of who is creating the situation. No employee, contract worker, vendor, customer or other person who does business with this organization is exempt from the prohibitions in this policy. In response to every complaint, the Company will conduct an investigation and, if improper conduct is found, take appropriate corrective action. If the person who violated the code of conduct is within the FI Legal Team, they will recuse themselves from handling that report.
We aim to acknowledge reports within 2 business days, and to complete handling a report within 10 business days. Actions we may take in response to a report include:
- Verbal warning;
- Temporary ban from certain spaces, forums, or roles;
- Permanent ban from certain spaces, forums, or roles;
- Removal of certain responsibilities;
- Termination of employment; and
- Report to legal authorities.
If possible and appropriate, we will make a statement about the report and any actions we took available to everyone who is aware of the original incident. We strive to protect reporters or targets from retaliation whenever possible.
Last Updated: September 25, 2023