Code of Conduct

We strive for a safe environment that fosters trust and respect

Startup Aotearoa is committed to upholding a Code of Conduct that raises the visibility and awareness of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour within our startup and innovation community. This code is founder-centric and its purpose is to foster trust & respect for all in the Startup Aotearoa community.

Every employee, contractor, volunteer, and founder joining the Startup Aotearoa community is expected to read and agree to this code (below).

We wish to acknowledge Callaghan Innovation for their work in creating this co-developed and open-source document which was created for the ecosystem by the ecosystem.

About the Code of Conduct

The Code is a founder-centric document raising the visibility and awareness of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the ecosystem. The intention is to help ensure everyone understands what is good behaviour and how to identify and address unacceptable behaviour. The intention is also to encourage ‘bystander intervention’ and send a strong message that poor behaviour should not be tolerated.

The Code acknowledges that the power dynamics present in the founder-investor relationship, in particular, can leave founders and their teams feeling vulnerable to behaviour that is not acceptable. While the Code on its own will not lead to the extent of change needed, it is a meaningful first step that can be built on to create safe and inclusive environments.

We want to ensure that the NZ Startup & Innovation Community Code of Conduct is followed. This means we need to make sure that everyone joining the Startup Aotearoa community in an official capacity reads and agrees to this code. This will be a mandatory part of the onboarding process whenever anyone joins our organisation or takes part in our programmes.

Contacting Us

If there are any questions regarding this privacy policy, you may contact us on: [email protected]

Ecosystem values

The following core values should be fostered throughout the New Zealand startup ecosystem by those leading initiatives and programmes.

Foundational values

Manaakitanga - Care and enhance the experience of founders and their teams on their entrepreneurial journey.

There is a culture of compassion and care when working with founders, including acknowledging each person's unique context and valuing their wellbeing. As members of the startup ecosystem, we all have a duty of care to support founders to have a positive experience. We stand by them on good days, and even more so on the bad ones. Failure can go hand-in-hand with the entrepreneurial journey. This is when the ecosystem rallies together to provide support.

Safety - Create a safe space for ourselves and others.

Founder wellbeing, whatever that looks like for that individual, is respected and supported. Professionalism is present in every engagement e.g. utilising positions of power or authority to impact their entrepreneurship journey should not be tolerated. It is part of a programme's duty of care to ensure founders and their teams feel safe with the ecosystem partners they are introduced to. It’s important that they have clarity on who to go to for support and understand the process for raising concerns and how they will be addressed.

Tikanga Māori - Programmes that promote the application and exploration of mātauranga Māori should prioritise a tikanga Māori approach by providers, investors, mentors, founders and their teams.

Tikanga Māori is a set of binding principles, beliefs and traditions practised collectively by Māori whānau, hapū and iwi since time immemorial. The word tika means ‘correct’, ‘just’, ‘decent’ and ‘honourable’ in te reo Māori, and so tikanga is considered ideologically as the right way to do things, which accordingly guides and constrains all aspects of Te Ao Māori and Māori life including social relationships and ceremonies, moral behaviour, economic activity and so on.

As tangata whenua, Māori are the kaitiaki, or custodians, of mātauranga Māori. The interconnected nature of kaitiakitanga and whakapapa means that Māori have the right to protect and secure the integrity of tikanga Māori and mātauranga Māori. It follows then that programmes that promote the application and exploration of mātauranga Māori should prioritise a tikanga Māori approach by providers, investors, mentors, founders and their teams.

Founders should not be expected to fill the role of a cultural capability builder for the mentors, investors or programme providers. Terms or conditions of investment should not compromise the integrity of tikanga or mātauranga Māori.

The programme providers, investors and mentors understand and are expected to have an awareness of the importance of tikanga Māori particularly as it applies to mātauranga Māori and the status of tangata whenua as its kaitiaki.

If your knowledge of te ao Māori is low and you wish to adapt these values for your own unique context it is advised to engage with experts of tikanga Māori and mātauranga Māori. We recommend you research who the most suitable person, institute, or group is.

Core values

Diversity - Actively seek diversity, promote inclusion and value alternative or unique points of view.

Good ideas can come from anywhere. Let’s celebrate this and look for diverse points of view to seek true innovation. In practice, this means that founders' worldviews and perspectives are acknowledged and respected. Additionally, their cultural realities and contexts are considered, holistically, as part of who they are.

Respect - Respect each other's history and future.

Recognising and respecting that an entrepreneurial journey takes courage and grit, the ecosystem should ensure founders feel supported and that they can be true to their identities. Mentors, investors and programme providers should advise and challenge founders in a manner that demonstrates respect for the founder.

Transparency - Communicate clearly and transparently when we engage with the founders and their teams.

Maintaining and strengthening a culture of transparency means that:

  • Intentions and expectations are clearly communicated, with no hidden agendas.
  • Terminology is clearly explained and founders are empowered to ask questions, such as, why they have been matched with specific advisors or investors.
  • Founders have the opportunity to provide feedback through safe channels. Founders are encouraged to be open and honest about team dynamics and progress.
  • Founders are encouraged to be open about statistics and metrics when communicating with stakeholders.

Accountability - Encourage everyone in the ecosystem to take responsibility for their own actions.

Fostering a culture of accountability where everyone in the ecosystem knows they have a key role to play in a founder's entrepreneurial journey means that, in some instances, it may be necessary to call out unacceptable behaviour and be vocal in support of those who need it. For investors, accountability means they are responsible for their own due diligence process. Founders are also encouraged to hold themselves accountable to do their own due diligence on potential investors, board members or advisors.

Self-determination - Encourage and empower founders and their teams to make decisions for their startup without external pressures.

Founders are provided with advice, support and connections but feel free to make their own decision about whether they are ready to pitch for investment. If a founder decides not to pitch for investment, that decision should be respected. Founders feel safe to communicate major changes to their startup, including shutting it down or pivoting. They are not pressured to work with a particular investor if they don’t believe it is a good fit.

What unacceptable behaviour looks like

Unacceptable behaviour can come in many different forms. Some types of behaviour have potential legal ramifications, such as bullying, harassment, violence, and aggression. These types of behaviours are summarised below.

Bullying - Bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a person or a group which creates a risk to safety and health. ‘Unreasonable behaviour’ means behaviour that a reasonable person, having considered the circumstances, would see as unreasonable; behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

Harassment - Sexual, racial or other harassment that is one-off, repeated or continuous. Anyone can be harassed, including any gender, age or background. Harassment can create a hostile environment and impact a person’s sense of safety. Harassment can take many forms including threats, abuse, insults and taunts resulting from discrimination.

Violence & Aggression -Violence and aggression covers a broad range of actions and behaviours that create a risk to safety and health. These are actions or behaviours that may physically or psychologically harm another person. Violence and aggression can harm both the person it is directed at and anyone witnessing it. Physical assault or the threat of physical harm of any form is a criminal act.

Discrimination - The Human Rights Act 1993 protects people in New Zealand from discrimination in a number of areas. Discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly, or less favourably, than another person in the same or similar circumstances.

Raising concerns

We appreciate that unacceptable conduct may not have been intended to upset or offend and that standards of acceptable conduct may change and evolve over time. We remain committed to upskilling and educating ourselves and our community on current standards of conduct on a regular basis.

If there are any concerns at all with regards to someone else’s behaviour within the Startup Aotearoa community, please email [email protected] immediately. All complaints will be handled in complete confidence and will be swiftly and thoroughly investigated. It is your right to work in a safe and inclusive environment and we take this very seriously.

We aim to acknowledge reports within 2 business days, and to complete handling a report within 10 business days. Where we determine that there has been a failure to respect the NZ Startup & Innovation Community Code of Conduct by an individual within the Startup Aotearoa community we may:

  • issue a verbal warning
  • issue a temporary or permanent ban from certain or all Startup Aotearoa activities, events, forums or any other association with Startup Aotearoa;
  • remove responsibilities (e.g. to the extent within Startup Aotearoa’s control, removal of board or observer positions);
  • terminate employment or contract (in relation to Startup Aotearoa employees and contractors);
  • report the individual to the relevant Callaghan Innovation manager.

Please note, while we take all concerns raised seriously, we will use our discretion as to determining when and how to follow up on reported incidents and may decline to take any further action and/or may direct the participant to other resources for resolution.

Where appropriate we will make a statement about the report and any actions we took to the person or persons who reported the incident.

Contacting Us

If there are any questions regarding this code-of-conduct policy, you may contact us on: [email protected]