This page is maintained by @Joanna Ciecierska (Head of People & Culture), @Florence Chouet (People & Culture Manager).
We want to use this policy to make a very clear statement: We at HelloBetter do not tolerate any form of harassment and it is our shared responsibility as a company, a team and human beings to do everything in our power to prevent, stop and challenge harassing behaviour at any time. We are committed to providing a work environment free of sexual or any other form of unlawful harassment or discrimination. A work environment that is categorized by respectful interactions and where we value each other.
This policy is our approach to fighting harassment in the workplace and gives all team members practical guidelines and procedures in case someone experiences harassment. All procedures listed here are based on public best practices from the startup world, feel free to check the available resources below.
This policy applies to all managers, team members as well as all freelancers working for us as well as for all phases of the employment, including, but not limited to, hiring, training, promotion, disciplinary actions, compensation, benefits, and termination of employment.
The policy governs any interaction between above stakeholders whether it is in our offices, during external/ internal events and/or on our digital communication platforms (e.g. e-mail, slack).
As a German company with most of our team members being situated in Germany, German laws apply.
Types of harassment
Harassment comes in all different forms, shapes, and degrees. For clarification and to be as clear as possible about what we consider to be harassing behaviour in our offices, digital communication channels, on the phone, during events etc., we define harassment to be either one of the following:
- Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is considered unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is persistent or offensive enough to interfere with the receiver’s performance or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.
Sexual harassment covers a wide range of conduct. Examples of misconduct include, but are not limited to, the following actions:
- Unwelcome sexual (verbal) advances, propositions or other sexual comments, such as sexually oriented gestures, unwanted and unreciprocated flirting, noises, remarks, jokes, or comments about a person’s sexuality or sexual experience.
- Physical assaults or the attempt to commit an assault of a sexual nature. This physical conduct can include touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, intentionally brushing against or poking another team member's body.
- Preferential treatment or promises of preferential treatment to a team member for submitting to sexual conduct, including soliciting or attempting to solicit any team member to engage in sexual activity for compensation or reward.
- Subjecting, or threats of subjecting a team member to unwelcome sexual attention or conduct or intentionally making performance of the team member's role more difficult because of that team member's sex.
Any form of discrimination towards an individual is strictly prohibited. Types of discrimination during any interaction at HelloBetter may include but are not limited to
- Name calling
- preferential/ unfair / different treatment of people
- Race; including color, nationality, ethnicity, or national origin
- Religious belief or lack of religious belief
- Life expectancy
- Gender (and gender expression)
- Sexual orientation
- Transgender status
We do not tolerate (physical/ non physical) acts of violence or threats of violence. We will not tolerate fighting, bullying, coercion, or use of abusive or threatening words directed to, about, or against a colleague, manager, candidate, client, vendor, freelancer, or any other person. No individual employed/ contracted by HelloBetter should commit or threaten to commit any violent act or discuss committing such offenses, even in a joking manner.
Team members or freelancers who feel that they have been harassed or discriminated against, or who witness any harassment or discrimination by an employee, freelancer, client, vendor, or anyone else who does business with HelloBetter, should immediately do the following:
Speak up during a public situation
If you experience an act of harassment, discrimination or other non-inclusive behaviour towards yourself or others and you feel comfortable enough, you are encouraged to engage in discourse about the behaviour in question. For example, if you feel hurt by a comment of a colleague, we welcome you to directly speak up within that particular situation. You can take the person who made the comment aside or directly articulate how it made you feel in the respective situation (e.g. in the meeting). It does create an opportunity for all people involved to learn, reflect their own behaviour and also allows the other person to de-escalate by apologizing and correcting themselves immediately.
If you realize that the behavior was not just the result of a misunderstanding, or you don't want to approach the person directly, you should contact and report to your supervisor or a supervisor of your choosing about this issue.
Report to supervisor / anonymous report
Independent from speaking up, you are encouraged to follow these procedure:
- Report any instances of harassment and/or discrimination verbally or in writing to your supervisor or any other supervisor (including CEO or People Team) you feel most comfortable with.
- In addition, you can report instances of harassment, discriminatory behavior and/or bullying via our anonymous online form. Our People team will carefully check each report and discuss appropriate solutions.
- If your direct supervisor is the subject of your report, you can speak to a different supervisor (including the CEO or People Team) you feel most comfortable with.
- Any supervisor who witnessed harassment or received a complaint as defined above, must directly report such conduct to the People Team in order to start an investigation.
- Any reported incident will be investigated by the People Team in a fair, impartial, timely, and thorough manner that provides all relevant parties with the opportunity to be heard and to present any information he or she thinks is relevant or important for consideration, and that allows HelloBetter to reach reasonable conclusions based on the information collected. During this investigation, HelloBetter will be as discreet as reasonably possible under the circumstances and will maintain confidentiality of the matter to the extent reasonably possible, subject to its obligation to conduct a full and fair investigation.
No retaliation policy
If you experienced any harassing behaviour towards yourself or any other person at HelloBetter, we as the management highly encourage and support you to address the matter according to our procedures described above. We understand that this can create additional pressure and put you in an uncomfortable position.
However, it is absolutely crucial for you to speak up. We create procedures that allow you to do this as easy as possible. If you do so, you enable us to fully investigate the situation, potentially file disciplinary/ legal action against the person who committed the harassment and develop protective measures.
Therefore, we will not allow any personal retaliation against any person who raises a complaint under this policy. We will take disciplinary actions, up to immediate termination, against any person who retaliates against a person engaged in a complaint under this policy. Potential contesting allegations in a court of law is not considered retaliation.
- “As an entrepreneur, if I experience harassment or discrimination, where do I report it and how will I be protected?”
- Anti-Harassment Policy (GitLab)
- Code of Conduct Makerist
- Anti-Harassment Policy Template for Startups - Greylock Perspectives
- Cherry VC — Cherry Ventures Anti-Harassment & Discrimination Policy
- Harassment-free Workplace
- Kindred Non-Discrimination Anti-Harassment Policy.pdf
- Workplace Harassment Policy Template | Workable
- Harassment: Anti-Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure