Ever since industry news about sexual harassment began to surface, we believe that it’s more important than ever to reinforce a positive, safe and respectful network. Techstars is a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. We are ten years old and have had over 3,000 founders come through our accelerator programs, more than 8,000 investors and over 15,000 mentors currently in our network. Over the last decade, more than 1 million people have attended our community events and we are now active in more than 160 countries around the world.
From our inception, Techstars has been rooted in a set of core values that we chose to expand two years ago to our Code of Conduct. We have reinforced with our staff that if they “see something,” they need to “say something.” While our Code of Conduct has been in place for two years, we have recently received feedback that we need to provide more clarity on how to report violations and what will happen when violations are reported. On July 5th, we discussed our Code of Conduct in a blog post and added additional mechanisms for reporting violations. Today, we want to provide some additional transparency on our process for reporting issues and how we handle violations.
First, people may report any issue to us through saysomething.techstars.com. This link was set up so that we can receive information in a timely manner. We have left the option for the report to be fully anonymous. People may also report an issue directly to a Managing Director, Vice-President or C-Level executive within Techstars or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We urge people to take immediate action in situations that are dangerous. If someone is in danger or is hurt, they should call whatever the local emergency number is (i.e. for the USA this is 911).
As soon as an issue is reported, we speak with our legal counsel to determine the right course of action. We make a determination if our Code of Conduct was violated, which could include an investigation where we reach out to parties involved in the situation. During an investigation, we may suspend members of our network. We treat any information that is reported as highly confidential. Our investigation’s primary purpose is to determine if our Code of Conduct has been violated. It is not our role to be judge and jury, only to do our best to protect our network from bad actors and that is our focus.
At the conclusion of the investigation, we determine a resolution. Potential examples of resolutions are expulsion from our network, a warning discussion, or education about Unconscious Bias and Workplace Harassment. We let each party and any directly involved third party know what actions will be taken. In the event that a crime has been committed, or a labor or general law has been violated, we will involve the correct authorities including the police.
Second, we are actively working to provide more transparency into the reporting and closure of issues. How we codify our reporting is yet to be determined, but we are working on a way to generally report on violations and resolutions.
We ask that people continue to share information with us. In cases where we have been made aware, we have already remediated known violations. In cases where we are just finding out about violations, we are investigating and taking action. We recognize that our efforts will require support and cooperation across our widely distributed network. Our Code of Conduct is a living document – we will continue to iterate and evolve it, along with our processes, as we grow globally. We will do our best to ensure that our Code of Conduct is broadly inclusive of all those in the Techstars Network so that we can make our communities a safe and supportive place for entrepreneurs to grow.
Please reach out to us if you have information that you would like to share – saysomething.techstars.com is a good way to communicate concerns that you may have.