Code of conduct

This applies to accelerateHER, firstminute capital, Founders Academy, Founders Factory, Founders Forum, Founders Intelligence, Founders Keepers, Founders of the Future, Founders Pledge, and everyone who occupies our physical and virtual workspace.

Why this exists

Organisations that prioritise their employees’ wellbeing and promote diversity and inclusion are not only better places to work, but also outperform those who don't (read here). That’s because we are our most productive selves when we feel respected, included and supported, and when we sense that our colleagues are transparent and empathetic with us.

Creating this environment requires everyone to lead by example. Therefore, this Code of Conduct is to enable colleagues to evaluate their own and each other’s behaviour against a set of criteria that we believe will continue to nurture a productive, safe and comfortable environment. We ask that anyone joining our community – regardless of seniority, role or affiliation – understands and accepts our shared goals and values in order to maintain a safe, productive and positive community for all.

This Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines which outlines inclusive actions and behaviours, as well as things we do and don’t do to create a better environment for everyone – as individuals and as productive members of a family of companies.

What it entails

The Founders Family is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, skin colour, sex, gender identity or expression, age, disability (physical or mental), neuro(a)typicality, sexual orientation, and political affiliation.

Our differences are worth celebrating and make us stronger as a community. We will work together to strike the right balance – highlighting what makes us unique without isolating groups or individuals – through inclusive behaviour so that all members of our community thrive.

As members of the Founders Family we agree to follow these behaviour expectations in all professional activities (both offline and online, and within and beyond the office). Our values...

Be respectful

Commit to valuing each other’s ideas, approaches and viewpoints. Whilst we may not always agree, disagreement is no excuse for rudeness. Be open and curious about different possibilities with a view to learning, and respectfully acknowledge the contributions of others. Be kind in all of your interactions and communications, especially when debating the merits of different options. Be aware of your impact, especially if you are a leader, and of how intense interactions can cause increased levels of stress for others. Take responsibility for your impact and your mistakes – if someone says they have been harmed through your words or actions, listen carefully, be ready to apologise sincerely, act with humility, and correct the behaviour going forward.

Be inclusive

Seek and champion diverse perspectives, and be curious. Diversity of people leads to diversity of opinions, and diversity in teams drives innovation. Be aware of unconscious bias, and encourage new perspectives to be heard while listening actively. If you find yourself dominating a discussion, step back and ask for others’ views. Acknowledge the length of time spoken by dominant members of the group, and understand that certain identities can exert inherent social dominance. Provide alternative ways to contribute or participate when possible (e.g. rotating meeting leads or accepting points via email before or after interactions), as the loudest voice is not the only valuable one. Create a meeting environment, whether in person or virtually, where everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

Be supportive

There will be times when colleagues are dealing with problems, both professional and personal, and will need assistance. Support each other with care and compassion during these times, through being open listeners, providing access to internal support channels and understanding that no-one can operate at 100% at all times. Also be aware that employees experience different levels of confidence, often correlated with their level of seniority and/or identity. Imposter Syndrome is experienced by many at all stages in their careers, and can be eased by support from colleagues. Be proactive in offering support to those whose voices are less heard, and to everyone in the team.

Be transparent but professional

It’s important to be able to speak directly when we disagree and when it concerns hard truths. Doing so respectfully can be challenging, especially when others don’t seem to be listening. Hearing such comments and feedback when one is the recipient can be even more challenging. Be honest, authentic and transparent with others, whilst balancing respect and empathy.

Be empathetic

Empathy involves actively listening and understanding what others are going through. Employees who feel heard and understood will feel more engaged at work. Our goal should not be to “win” every discussion, disagreement or argument. A more productive goal is to be open and curious about ideas that improve our own. Being empathetic enables you to appreciate the origins of others’ ideas. Strive to be an example for inclusive thinking and behaviour – through this, different perspectives come together to make outcomes richer and stronger.

Harassment, Personal Attacks, Bullying, Disruption and Discrimination

We prefer to lead by positive behaviour, but to be explicit, we do not tolerate inappropriate conduct that goes against our goals and values. Examples include:

  • Sexual jokes, language, epithets, advances or propositions

  • Non-consensual touching, leering, whistling, or suggestive, insulting or obscene comments or gestures

  • Persistent flirtations or physical contact, including continuing to express personal interest after such interest has not been reciprocated

  • Written or verbal slurs, jokes, remarks, questions or gestures that are derogatory, provocative or demeaning to an individual’s or group’s characteristics or that promote negative stereotypes

  • Demanding or suggesting inappropriate behaviour in exchange for favorable reviews, assignments, promotions, or continued employment

  • Harassing photography or recording of any kind

  • Intimidation, stalking, or following

  • Retaliation for reporting or threatening to report harassment

  • Sustained disruption of talks or other events

  • Limiting professional opportunities on the basis of protected characteristics

As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t be comfortable for your meeting or online conversation to be overheard, think twice before engaging.

Equally, we foster an environment where colleagues should feel empowered to highlight behaviour that goes against this Code of Conduct. We think these are helpful examples of language to use in the moment to address such behaviour.

These examples are illustrative but not exhaustive, and this document is updated regularly.


All our organisations uphold a zero tolerance policy on behaviour that is out of line with this Code of Conduct. Any violations will be assessed individually by employers, and may result in disciplinary action. We believe our culture follows us wherever we go – within any of our offices, at work-related events, external meetings, online etc. Employees represent us and should always have these expectations of behaviour in mind.