Code of Conduct
The Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund’s mission is to drive the equitable representation and participation of women in startups and venture capital. Ingrained in that mission is the recognition of social inequality that is reflected also in the startup ecosystem. We have founded and are building Auxxo to foster equality and to be a counterforce to the industry’s gender inequality. We only invest in female (co-)founded startups, which has led to a gender-balanced portfolio of 54% of female founders.
As our focus we have chosen gender equality, but we believe in and strive to provide equal opportunities and equitable treatment of all regardless of their gender, age, race, ability, socioeconomic background and other sociodemographic factors.
The Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund is based on values of diversity, equity and inclusion as well as integrity, caring, honesty, authenticity and vulnerability. We live by these values in our everyday operations and expect all our stakeholders to respect them.
Purpose and scope
The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to explicitly express our understanding of what is and is not considered fair treatment and acceptable behavior to everyone associated with the Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund, including but not limited to our team, limited partners, portfolio companies’ founders and teams, partner investors, experts and to guide all stakeholders to act accordingly.
This policy is applied to all situations and settings connected to the Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund, including any situations taking place at Auxxo facilities, virtual and physical work events and social outings, meetings, work trips and communication or any situation where a person or an entity represents the Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund.
This Code of Conduct considers the following topics:
- Discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and retaliation
- Conflict of interest and corruption
Discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and retaliation
Discrimination is different, unjust or prejudicial treatment based on but limited to a person’s gender, gender identity or expression, sex, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, age, disability, medical condition, pregnancy or parenthood.
Examples of discriminatory behavior include:
- Adverse employment action in recruiting, promotion, compensation, decision-making, and termination decisions based on the aforementioned characteristics
- Organizing mandatory work meetings or outings during hours or at facilities not reasonable or accessible to everyone due to ability or personal life situation such as family
Harassment refers to creating a hostile, intimidating or threatening environment based on a person’s characteristics or status. This can take the form of verbal or physical abuse.
Examples of harassment include:
- Derogatory or demeaning, e.g. racist, homophobic or transphobic comments, slurs, jokes and name-calling face-to-face, behind someones back, in emails, websites, texts, posters or any other communication
- Hostile gaze, body language, touching, impeding or assaulting
Sexual harassment is carrying unwanted sexual behavior towards another person making or intending to make them feel upset, scared, offended, humiliated or coerced.
Examples of sexual harassment include:
- Sexual innuendo, sexually suggestive comments or emphasizing sex- or gender-based stereotypes
- Sexist jokes, slurs, comments or name calling
- Unsolicited questions and remarks about a person’s sexual identity, sexual behavior or relationship status
- Sexual advances or propositions
- Unwanted sexual touches
Retaliation is discriminating against a person that is engaged in protected activity such as making a complaint about harassment, discrimination, unpaid wages or taking a medical or disability leave.
Discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on protected characteristics are prohibited by law. At the Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund we condemn all discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and retaliation also when they do not meet the legal definition. We promote a safe working environment for people of all backgrounds and life situations and expect all parties affiliated with us to do the same. We are committed to working on our unconscious biases and improving our internal processes to offer equal opportunities to everyone.
Conflict of interest and corruption
Conflict of interest refers to conflict between personal interest and the interest of a company or the responsibility of a person in a position of trust. At the Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund we are committed to making ethical decisions based on integrity, professionalism and putting the company’s interest over personal benefits at work.
Conflict of interest might lead to corruption, which is dishonest behavior or the abuse of power or entrusted position for personal gain. Corruption includes for example bribery, embezzlement, extortion, and money laundering. Corruption erodes trust and increases inequality by benefiting the ones in power while simultaneously denying access or opportunities to those most vulnerable.
Concrete examples for corrupt behavior:
- Investing in companies based on personal relationships or personal monetary gain
- Offering, giving, soliciting or receiving items of value beyond standard industry practices as a means to influence the actions of another person or entity, especially public officials
At the Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund, we combat corruption by stating transparently any potential conflicts of interest. If a potential conflict arises we include others in the decision-making or shift decision-making to non-conflicted persons.
Reporting and enforcement
We strongly encourage anyone experiencing or witnessing any form of discrimination, bullying, harassment, or corruption to take action. We urge any violations of this Code of Conduct to be reported to us immediately using our whistleblowing channel, found on our website here. This channel can be used by our team members, investors, portfolio founders and team members but also other individuals and companies connected to our team, our investors and our portfolio companies.
The report can be made anonymously or with contact information. Persons who are open to providing more details about the situation and/or want us to inform them about the process are asked to leave their contact details. We acknowledge that these are vulnerable and sensitive situations and are committed to respecting your privacy and protecting you from attempts of retaliation to the best of our ability.
We check the whistleblowing channel weekly and aim to process complaints within 21 days. In our process we discuss first within our group responsible for report handling to determine the right course of action. The group consists of our Founding Partner, Dr. Gesa Miczaika, our Chief of Staff, Carla Schell, and a third party representative, Legal Counsel at Cavalry, Eva-Juliane Stark. We then investigate the matter. This investigation might include contacting the reporting person if possible for further details and contacting the reported person or other persons present at the time of the incident to get the full view of the situation. We evaluate the required process case by case taking into account the privacy of all, especially the reporting party.
Potential resolutions to a breach of our Code of Conduct include:
- Verbal or written warning
- Temporary or full ban from certain spaces, events, or channels
- Removal of responsibilities
- Temporary or permanent termination of contract
- No action beyond investigation is a possible outcome, if the situation lacks information or evidence to draw a clear picture of violation against the Code of Conduct
If a breach of our Code of Conduct also violates any laws or regulations, we involve the corresponding authorities. We will communicate the actions taken to all involved parties, where possible (e.g. where contact information is available).
Updating the Code of Conduct
This is the first version of the Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund’s Code of Conduct published on April 14th, 2023. We will revise our Code of Conduct yearly or when needed. If you have any questions or suggestions about our Code of Conduct please don’t hesitate to reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources / read more:
- European Parliament Policy Department for Citizen’s Rights and Constitutional Affairs: Bullying and sexual harassment at the workplace, in public spaces and in political life in the EU: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2018/604949/IPOL_STU(2018)604949_EN.pdf
- Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency: Employer obligations: https://www.antidiskriminierungsstelle.de/EN/about-discrimination/areas-of-life/work-life/obligations-of-employers/obligations-of-employers.html
- Simmons + Simmons: Discrimination and Harassment in Germany: https://www.simmons-simmons.com/en/publications/ck0d0gjuwdkg30b94bdujx28a/01-discrimination-and-harassment-in-germany
- U.S. Department of the Interior: Equal Opportunity and Workplace Conduct: https://www.doi.gov/employees/anti-harassment/definitions