The Figure 53 Company Handbook
What is this thing and why do we have it?
Figure 53 employees (aka Action Figures) decided that a formal handbook and code of conduct is an important tool to guide us as the company grows. The goal of the handbook is to express our aspirations, to offer guidelines for preventing missteps, to establish rules for things we require, and to create a structure for crafting a response when we make mistakes. As with everything we do here, we strive to make our policies — and this handbook — a reflection of our actual thoughts, values, creativity, and expectations.
This document contains a mixture of suggestions and firm rules. We have tried to make the difference clear between friendly tips and set-policy-on-which-we-will-not-budge. If you’re not sure which category something falls into, ask Chris or Cricket.
We expect this handbook and our code of conduct to be a living document that continues to reflect our priorities and policies as the company grows. We do not expect it to be a list of everything employees should and should not do. We do not want a handbook to become a place where we add new rules every time a problem comes up.
If you need to spell out detailed rules and procedures on how your employees should act in various contexts, you don’t need a handbook—you need new employees.
— Robert Hatta
We help people put on a show that they couldn’t have done otherwise.
Putting on a show is the kind of thing we help make happen in the world. Putting on a show may mean a lot of technique and details and mechanics, but the technique and details and mechanics are driving toward the moment a kid sits there with their heart pumping and their face glowing, or the moment the band comes back out for their second encore and that group of friends has had one of the best nights of their lives. We help make that happen.
Putting on a show is a big tent. Theaters put on a show. Bands put on a show. Churches put on a show. Visual artists put on a show in a gallery. When you’re making a movie, you’re putting on a show (and recording it live). People put on shows for each other. Sometimes the show is high art and sometimes it’s worship and sometimes it’s a night out to hear someone crack jokes and sometimes your daughter’s in dance class and shares what she’s been learning. We work on shows to be together for something special, and we love helping people do that in ways they couldn’t before.
“What are we making possible that couldn’t be done before?” can have a lot of answers. The answers can be about functionality, or affordability, or speed, or something else. The answers can be different for different kinds of people (students vs professionals), or it can change as a tool evolves, but it’s been a driving force from day one and worth keeping front and center in our minds.
What are we proud of?
Our Company and Our Products
We are trying to build the company and the products we want to see in the world.
Much of our success is built on taking care of our customers with exceptional support and responsiveness. As support has transitioned from a one-person job to a team of specialists, we’ve tried to keep the principles of patience, gratitude, respect, and expertise driving our interactions with customers. Our support team is devoted to problem-solving in a kind and generous spirit. We provide deep technical knowledge, and also bring a curiosity, dedication, and genuine compassion for customers to our work.
We treat each other kindly, we treat customers kindly, and we treat other companies kindly (even our competitors).
We value acting as a good neighbor. It doesn’t mean we have to be best friends with everyone, but it does mean we are polite, respectful, and help the people in our communities when they need it. Our communities include:
- our team — the people with whom we work directly every day
- our customers — the art makers who use our tools
- the geographic places in which we live and work — Baltimore, New York, and Los Angeles
- the other companies who also serve the communities we inhabit
We work to be a good neighbor in all four communities.
A spirit of independence does not imply that we never follow the example of others. Rather, it implies a constant awareness that at each juncture we are making choices, even if they are choices guided by habit, traditional wisdom, or least resistance. The mark of independence is in our power to maintain, at each moment, the sparkling possibility of a different choice, and the occasional and critical act of embracing it.
Our company began from a number of decisions that pushed away from established or traditional paths. We are proud to animate our work with this spirit of independence, and to play an impish role in the industry even when our software becomes a standard in the fields we serve. We are proud of our ability and willingness to break hollow rules and challenge the way things are usually done. When we are uncertain how to proceed with a business decision, it can be helpful to remember this part of our identity to help us break out of the usual patterns.
Being Open and Honest
We try to be genuine, open, and honest with ourselves and our customers. We have open books inside the company and open discussions about important business decisions. We deal directly and honestly when we communicate outside the company. We attempt to behave as a collection of individuals, rather than hiding ourselves behind a faceless facade.
Profit is not the first priority
We enjoy earning money. It’s very important. It’s just not, fundamentally, our highest priority. We need to make enough money, and we sure wouldn’t mind making a lot of money, but it’s okay to make “enough”, rather than “as much as possible”, if that means we are staying true to our other values and living happier lives.
Responding to Failure
While we are not proud of failure itself, we have found that failures represent an opportunity to respond and act based on our values. This can mean an opportunity to be honest, to be generous, or to otherwise find ways to take care of people affected by our failure. When we fail, instead of panicking, we regroup and return to the principles that make us us. And that is a thing to be proud of.
Salary and Pay
All senior Action Figures who work at least half time have the same base salary. Ask an Action Figure to learn our current base salary.
The senior base salary is increased by $5000 ($2500 for half-timers) if you live in a high-cost location (currently New York or Los Angeles).
By default, we have an advisory base pay increase each year guided by the Federal Cost of Living Adjustment (unless we find a better guide). This increase can be frozen any given year by Chris. His choice to apply or adjust or freeze the base pay increase will be made after final taxes are submitted for the previous year, and the decision will be communicated to the team.
Your salary is augmented by quarterly profit sharing (see below).
Chris may occasionally give discretionary bonuses, to recognize extra-ordinary work.
Following the guidance of his teammates, Chris has also accepted a 1.5 “CEO multiplier” on his base salary, in recognition of the extra responsibility and burden of the inevitable tasks the CEO always ends up required to handle, but would not have otherwise voluntarily chosen to pursue in any other career path. :P
Junior Action Figures
Sometimes we hire people who are starting out in their careers, or who don’t yet have the technical expertise or self-management required of Senior Action Figures. These Junior Action Figures receive the same benefits as senior staff if they work at least half time (health insurance, paid vacation, etc.) Their salary is 66% of the senior salary, and time spent in the junior tier is weighted at 66% of the senior tier for the purposes of profit sharing.
When someone is hired as a Junior Action Figure, they will be assigned a committee of three to four senior staff. Every six months that group meets to go over performance and decide whether it’s time to move up to the senior tier. If it’s not, they suggest concrete skills to work on in order to become senior level.
Sometimes we have jobs that aren’t quite big enough to fill the time of a half-time employee, and sometimes we want to hire people who want the flexibility to vary their hours and set their own schedule. In these cases, we hire employees who are paid hourly. The hourly rate varies depending on job, experience, and skill level, but we set it using the base Action Figure salary as a guide. Employees who work less than half time are not eligible for the company benefits described below. The code of conduct and communication policies, and our company’s commitment to be a fair and generous employer, apply to all employees.
Figure 53 has quarterly profit sharing across all employees who work at least half-time.
Our profit is defined as: all revenue for the quarter minus all costs except costs related to the construction of the Voxel theater. A negative profit “carries through” to the calculation of profit sharing in the next quarter until reset by a new calendar year. Put another way: the final profit sharing is calculated as if on a yearly basis, but distributed more frequently. If some profit sharing was distributed early in the year, but we end up losing money for that year as a whole, the early profit sharing is not cancelled or “taken back”. By design, profit sharing is more reserved at the beginning of the year, which should in part help to protect against this risk.
The specific equation for profit sharing is defined in Basecamp, and can be found at: “Action Figure Headquarters” → “Docs & Files” → “Profit Sharing Calculator”. The profit sharing pool is first calculated as 30% of profits up to a certain amount, and subsequently 70% of profits if we pass that amount for the year. The pool is then split according to time invested in the company. Roughly speaking, the split is calculated based on a combination of two factors:
- The number of days you’ve worked here (roughly: raw hours worked)
- The number of years you’ve worked here (roughly: cumulative institutional knowledge and high-level investment in the company)
Profit sharing does not begin until after you have worked at Figure 53 for one full year, at which point you receive a share that is backdated from your start date.
Chris reserves the option to adjust the profit sharing calculation in the future.
Every Wednesday for the Baltimore office, plus one flex lunch on a day of each Action Figure’s choosing. Two days of choice for remote folks. If Wednesday is a holiday, lunch is moved to a nearby non-holiday weekday.
If you are sick you should not come to work. You should not work remotely. You should rest and get better. Stop being sick!
We do not limit the number of sick days, but you must count the number of days you are out sick. Please see the Action Figure Headquarters on Basecamp for details on how to track your time.
Sick time does not roll over from year to year, nor is it ever paid out. (You are paid while you’re sick, but you aren’t paid extra for not being sick.)
You may take up to 12 work weeks of paid leave during any 12-month period to attend to the serious health condition of yourself, your spouse or your child. In order to be eligible for extended medical leave, an employee must have been at the business at least 12 months. Please speak to Cricket and Chris if you have extenuating circumstances that require leave beyond the scope of this policy.
In the event of the death of a child, parent, partner, or sibling, you receive 10 days off without question or checking in. For extended family, you receive 3 days off.
These guidelines are meant as a default grace period to take without having to think about it, not a maximum - please of course speak to Cricket or Chris about your specific circumstances in the event that you need more leave.
Our vacation/personal time policy is:
- Our default work days are Monday through Friday.
- Holidays are designated in advance at the beginning of the calendar year. Holidays do not count against vacation.
- Everyone gets 25 days of paid vacation (aka “personal time”) each year. (5 work weeks.)
- Everyone gets unlimited unpaid vacation time, but you must check with Chris if you use more than 20 days of unpaid time off and you must be working at least half time to receive health benefits.
- Base salary is reduced by 1/260 of your base salary for each unpaid day off.
- Please coordinate unpaid time off with Cricket so your paychecks can be adjusted.
- Sick days are unlimited, but counted. Sick days do not count against vacation time.
As a general principle, we encourage employees to take real vacations where they are away from work and actually relaxing.
Vacation time doesn’t roll over from year-to-year, as we want you to use it. Unused vacation will not be paid out at any point, because, again, use it! Go on vacation!
We want Action Figures to have time to play and experiment at work — allowing us to explore ideas (which might lead to new products, or might not), spend time on a pet coding project, attend conferences, do professional development, or do volunteer work in the community. We call these Studio Projects (in contrast to our Mainstage Projects like QLab). Every employee has a yearly budget of time and money to spend on Studio Projects. See Action Figure HQ in Basecamp for the details.
The spirit of our time tracking system is positive, not punitive. This system is here to help us work the right amount of time, and also take time for other things without wondering if we are taking advantage of our teammates. It is not a substitute for the assumption of trust, self-direction, and the inevitable irregularity of creative work.
Please ensure you’re working enough and not too much. Roughly 40 hours a week if you are full time and 20 hours a week if you are part time. In terms of time off, “1 day” = approximately 4 hours for half-time and 8 hours for full-time.
We do not track our time hourly, but we do track half-day increments of vacation. Please see Action Figure Headquarters on Basecamp for the nitty-gritty details of how to track your time off.
We work hard but we don’t only work hard and many of us don’t only work hard at Figure 53. We also have lives outside of this company. While our pace of work increases when we are close to release dates or during big projects, we avoid frantic all-nighters, or frantic anything for that matter. We generally like to work at a pace that allows for considered decision making and thoughtful work.
We are flexible about (most) deadlines, and would rather have people speak up immediately when they realize that a goal is unrealistic than torture themselves trying to get it done.
The best way that we have found to make sure that everyone is pulling their weight is to check in with each other. While we don’t have official departments, we do have small teams that band together short-term for projects, or long-term for tasks like support. Check in frequently with your teammates to make sure that you are all happy with the balance of work, or to notify each other if there are times when you’ll be more or less available.
Paid work done for a different organization is outside the scope of employment at Figure 53 and covered by our vacation policy. Put another way: When you’re being paid by Figure 53, you can not be paid by someone else (unless you’re using paid vacation/personal time).
That said, many of our employees have freelance jobs in addition to their work at Figure 53. We believe that this makes the company a more interesting place with better connections to other industries and to the arts. We are flexible about arranging work schedules to allow you to have life and other kinds of work outside of Figure 53.
As a guideline for an acceptable amount and kind of moonlighting, don’t do work that directly competes with Figure 53 or puts the company at a disadvantage by either the work you are doing or by your extended absence. While defining this is difficult, it falls into the “know it when you see it” category. When in doubt, disclose your outside gigs and bring up any potential conflicts of interest.
New Parent Leave
We value the employees we have and would like to keep them whether or not they decide to have and/or raise children. For employees who have been here a year or longer, Figure 53 offers:
- 2 months of paid medical leave for anyone who gives birth
- 4 months of paid parental leave when a new child joins your family (this is in addition to medical leave, if applicable)
If your situation requires more than 4 months of leave to care for your new child, please reach out to Chris and Cricket.
If you have been at Figure 53 for less than a year, we offer one month of paid medical leave and two months of paid parental leave.
We also offer an option for “phased re-entry”, which provides a chance to come back to work more gradually. With this option, you can exchange up to three individual months of paid parental leave for two months in which you work half your regular time but receive your full salary (for up to six months of half time total.)
Our main office is located in Baltimore City. We also have many employees who work remotely. We encourage remote work for any of our employees who may want to travel while working or may just want a quieter or more comfortable atmosphere than the traditional office. We also believe that being in the same room has a unique set of benefits that cannot be duplicated with remote work.
If you are within a reasonable proximity to the main office we expect that you will regularly work in the office, even if the majority of your working hours are not spent there. If you are working remotely, please make that known in the chat room. We appreciate people being available in the chat room while working remotely, to encourage a feeling of working together. Obviously there are exceptions, as when you need to concentrate without interruption on a project or if you, Chris, and co-workers come up with an alternate agreement.
While we are small enough that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t apply to us legally, we are dedicated to making this a safe and accommodating workplace for all employees. If you would like to request a reasonable accommodation that will assist you in performing your job, please email Cricket with a written request.
Credit Card & Expenses
Every salaried employee is issued a company credit card. Company cards are to be used for work related expenses including company lunch two days a week. Work related expenses may include technology that is required for you to complete your work, supplies for your office, approved travel for work related activities, meals for contacts and potential customers (within reason), and other items that the team deems appropriate.
For the full details of travel reimbursement and expense policies, please see Action Figure Headquarters in Basecamp.
There is a high level of trust in Figure 53 and the operating assumption is that Action Figures will spend responsibly and only use the company credit card for work related expenses. If there is confusion or ambiguity about what constitutes an acceptable expense then bring the question to the team before making the purchase. Purchases over $150 must be approved in advance, and you must send a receipt for all purchases over $500 to Cricket. Credit card statements must be briefly annotated every month (see Action Figure Headquarters for details.)
We believe formal feedback is a valuable tool for improving the company and for fostering employee well-being. The goals of feedback are to:
- Facilitate communication in both directions (suggestions for employees and suggestions for how to make the company better).
- Provide a structure that makes it easier for us to offer each other constructive criticism.
- Take time to think about our own roles and actions in the company.
We have rolling feedback sessions, with one check-in meeting every two weeks. At our current size that means that each Action Figure has around two of these meetings a year. They are a time for questions and comments for and from each employee. While no one is obligated to provide feedback for anyone else, everyone is offered an opportunity before each check-in to offer positive or constructive feedback that will be included in the meeting.
While we believe that official feedback is a great thing for our relationships to each other and for the health of the company, we do not want periodic review sessions to take the place of ongoing communication. Just because you know that in 6 months you’ll provide feedback for someone does not mean you shouldn’t start a conversation with them now. Go tell someone what you like about their contributions to the company, or start a dialogue if there’s something happening you’re not comfortable with.
Setting Company Goals
In order to ensure that the company is working together efficiently, that our individual priorities align with other Action Figures, and to give us all a voice in deciding what we work on, we periodically set top-level company goals/targets together. Please see Action Figure Headquarters on Basecamp for the current goal-setting process.
Additional Figure 53 policies and requirements are included in the Employment Agreements we all sign when we start. This handbook doesn’t replace anything in those, but most of that stuff is boring so we didn’t put it here too.
Guidelines for Communication
Part of the motivation to create this handbook comes from our desire to get better at communicating. With a growing number of employees, and with those employees in multiple locations, we must take an active role in managing communication.
One of our strengths is that everyone’s voice is welcome in debate and decision-making. There is very little feeling of “stay in your lane.” As a result, managing communication is important to ensure that all parties are fairly represented and their opinions are heard. We work to make certain that everyone who wants to participate can (even, or especially, those who might initially feel less comfortable weighing in.)
Because our topics of conversation often arise organically, discussions can
often occur when not everyone is present to participate. Issues are sometimes
broached when not everyone is in the chat room. Often the Baltimore folks will
have a lively discussion in-person that doesn’t include the remote folks. In
many instances our spontaneity is an asset and we want to embrace that, but if
you notice that there are people missing who you feel would want to participate
in the discussion, say something. You can ask that it be brought up again when
everyone is around, or even to
One of the takeaways from the 2014 Retreat was that we all like being able to talk things out in person together. As such we agreed to make all-hands meetings (with remote folks conferencing in) a more regular occurrence.
In the days before methodology and training institutions, directors and actors shared what they knew through tips. “You saw it tonight, got any tips for me?” “Listen, I loved it but I have one tip.” […] The person giving the tip was simply drawing it out of the well everybody drank from. Nobody assumed they had invented the tip; it was either general knowledge the other person had momentarily forgotten or something you would have learned anyway after you did a couple of dozen more plays. The combined wisdom of the tips didn’t add up to a method and there was quite a bit of play in there, meaning that whatever it was worked most of the time, but there was always an exception.
— Jon Jory
Guidelines for Internal Communication
Practice listening. Good communication depends on listening. We try to listen to each other actively and with open minds.
Try not to interrupt. Almost everyone does it sometimes, especially when we’re having a fun conversation about something exciting. But frequent interruptions can (unknowingly) dominate or shut out other people, or make them feel they are not valued. The old classroom rule about raising your hand when you have something to say can be quite… handy.
Give each other the benefit of the doubt. If you are annoyed, offended, or otherwise affronted by something that someone else said, take a step back and work from the assumption that their goal was probably not actually to annoy, offend, or affront you. Then address the issue from there.
State questions directly. It can be easy to think an implied question is a clear question, but often it’s not. (Especially in a chat room.)
Prepare specific and actionable questions. If you reduce the cognitive load required to answer the question, you increase the chances of getting an answer. (And your coworkers will appreciate it!)
To do: examples and guidelines for specific and actionable questions.
Spend time on improving communication. Communication gets better when you’re willing to have a conversation about how you communicate. If you’re talking about a new product and it seems like the other person is just nay-saying everything about it, take a step back and ask if you have similar goals for the conversation. If one person is trying to generate many ideas by brainstorming freely, while another is focused on analyzing and winnowing out bad ideas, the goals are in tension and the conversation will probably also be in tension.
Guidelines for Feedback
Don’t forget the positive. Identify things you like and appreciate. In feedback sessions, it usually helps to start with the positive.
Favor observations and goals first. Saying what you have noticed, or how you feel, or what you’re trying to accomplish is a solid place to start. Then you can move to the consequences of those observations, or how to get to the goals.
Guidelines for Internal Communication - The Online Edition
Our employees work all over the country. The ability to do remote work is important to us, both for its personal benefits and so that our employees can remain plugged in to the industries that Figure 53 serves. We therefore rely on online tools for a lot of our company decision making, water-cooler chat, and collaboration.
A few observations and guidelines garnered from our history of communicating online:
Tell us what you’re up to. Because we’re a scattered team, the chat room is often the only way we all know what we’re all up to, and is a nice way of staying connected. Please post at least a few times a week in the Today I Worked On channel, and please say hello and goodbye in the Green Room, especially if you’re working remotely.
There is not much tone in text. Tone is very difficult to convey via text, and even more so when the text is fast-flowing. It’s easy to accidentally sound curt when you’re trying to be concise, to sound pedantic when you’re trying to be exact, or to sound stubborn when you’re trying to make sure you were clear.
If in doubt, react slower. We’re nice folks. If someone writes something that sounds out of place, or with an amount of emotion that seems out of scale with the current conversation, or just plain angry, take a moment before reacting. Consider the different ways to read what that person wrote, and consider whether you might be misreading it. Then ask for clarification. Try to avoid leaping in with an emotional reaction which has the potential to either turn a misunderstanding into an argument, or pour fuel on the fire.
Allow varying paces. Chat and other text based communication can often accelerate the discussion of topics. There’s not really an established etiquette for determining who should speak next as there is with live action chat (also known as live conversation). As a result, conversations can often happen rapidly with everyone trying to convey his/her own opinion before the topic is resolved or dropped. While there is a risk of leaving every topic open forever with no resolution, it can be useful to take a moment (or a few) to slow a conversation down so that everyone has time to think before reacting. Most decisions we make collectively aren’t emergencies so we can take time to consider other viewpoints and diplomatically frame our responses.
Try to catch up on the chats. While it is not a job requirement to read every line of the chat room from time when you’re not at work, it is considered a good use of your working time to catch up on them. Reading the chats can be a very helpful way to stay on top of what we are all working on. It’s a good idea to glance at the rooms for projects you’re directly involved in, and please do take the time to see if you missed anything in the Today I Worked On room. Because the Green Room can sometimes be filled with a lot of non-essential (but always entertaining!) chat, we are working on developing systems that make sure that everyone is aware of important decisions and conversations. If you notice that important information is not making its way to you or others, speak up.
Guidelines for External Communication
We want to be kind in our dealings with our customers, our potential customers, other professionals, and other companies. We value honesty, and also value expressing honest ideas in a kind and patient way. Our brand is a reflection of our company culture and of how we behave publicly. When interacting with anyone in an official capacity as an Action Figure, employees’ behavior should reflect these qualities of patience, kindness, and honesty.
Sometimes customers do not respond warmly and sometimes (though rarely) we speak with customers who are downright rude. These interactions can result in feelings of anger in even the calmest support person.
Even then, we make a deliberate choice to treat our customers well. The choice to treat customers well is an ongoing decision that we express with our actions. The choice to treat customers well can require a difficult balance between a desire to commiserate with each other about tough customer interactions and responsibility for creating a positive environment that fosters our best work. Because much of our communication is text-based, it’s easy for frustration to spiral. There is no hard-and-fast rule about this, except to err on the side of kindness to the customers and positivity in the chat room.
This does NOT mean that we have to accept abuse. If someone is personally attacking you or being a jerk or saying nasty and undeserved things about Figure 53, we do not have to accept this uncritically. But we DO have to respond with kindness, even as we’re kindly telling people that it’s not acceptable for them to treat us rudely. When in doubt, ask a teammate for help — we have a diplomatic and talented group of people that have your back.
The same general guidelines of kindness and patience apply to any use of the company social media accounts. Don’t post negative statements about the company or customers from any company accounts. Legally we can’t tell you to do anything with your personal accounts (nor would we want to) but please remember than many of us are associated on Twitter and other social media with Figure 53. Additionally, our lawyers would like to remind you that all company social media accounts are owned by the company, and no, you can’t keep them when you go. Sorry.
Employee Code of Conduct: A safe and diverse workplace
There are lots of legal requirements about discrimination and harassment. At Figure 53, we follow all of those. But we also understand that sticking to the legal minimum is not sufficient. An absence of outright discrimination does not necessarily mean that we are doing enough to combat our own implicit biases. The absence of obvious verbal harassment does not necessarily mean that we have an equitable working environment that’s comfortable for everyone.
Taking that into account, we try to do three things as individuals: be aware of our own personal and institutional biases, call out bias when we see it (even if it doesn’t affect us personally), and create an environment where we are all open and receptive to people speaking out about any negative experiences of the working environment at Figure 53.
Creating a respectful environment is one of our highest priorities and the establishment of that environment is the continuing responsibility of every employee. Damaging that environment is as (or sometimes more) disruptive to our work than refusing to work outright. As such, violating the positive and welcoming working environment will be treated in the same manner as not accomplishing tasks: as destructive and unacceptable behavior.
To get more specific:
- We are committed to providing a respectful work environment for all, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion.
- Gendered or racially prejudiced language is unacceptable at Figure 53. (Please ask Cricket if you have a question about whether the word you want to use qualifies.)
- Sexual or verbal harassment of any kind will be not be tolerated. Harassment includes verbal comments that reinforce social structures of domination related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion; gratuitous or off-topic sexual images or behavior in spaces where they’re not appropriate; deliberate intimidation; stalking; following; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of meetings or conversation; inappropriate physical contact; and unwelcome sexual attention. Anyone asked to stop any harassing behavior is expected to comply immediately.
If you are harassed, or if you notice harassment of another person at Figure 53, it is important to report the incident. We also know that it can be scary for the person being harassed to report, so if you notice harassment please help them out by letting us know. We will keep your identity private unless you say it is okay to share it. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- The names of the people involved.
- A description of the incident, including where and when it took place.
- Any context for the incident that you think is important to understand it.
- A description of the response that you believe is appropriate (i.e. a verbal warning, public apology, suspension, termination, etc.)
In the event of harassing behavior, we reserve the right to take any action we deem appropriate, including issuing a verbal warning, mandating a public apology, suspension, and termination. Cricket and Chris will review the report, speak with all involved parties, and present a proposed solution. The ultimate decision making authority for harassment response rests with Chris (unless he is the one being reported). In the event that the person who experienced harassment does not feel comfortable with either Chris or Cricket’s involvement, or with their proposed solution, the matter will be presented to a larger review board of Figure 53 employees (see below for details.)
We will do our best to respond to harassment claims within one working day to present a proposed solution within three working days.
If Cricket is the person you are reporting for harassment, please email the information to Chris instead.
If Chris is the person being reported for harassment, Figure 53 will hire an outside mediator to oversee the dispute. The mediator will be chosen by the review board (see below).
In addition to our individual efforts to make Figure 53 a welcoming and safe workplace for all of our employees, we also recognize that the company as a whole has a role to play in fostering diversity. We recognize that there is a culture of exclusion (explicit or implicit) within the tech industry that often leads to fewer opportunities for people of color, women, and other marginalized groups. Up to this point our own hiring processes have reinforced that dynamic, as we have tended to hire within our own networks. Going forward, we intend to prioritize diversity in our hiring process. We also commit to actively exploring other ways that we can contribute to making work in the technology field accessible to all, such as internships, community outreach, or mentorship.
What happens when we fail?
First of all, see “Responding to Failure” under the “What are we proud of?” section. Understand that any failure is an opportunity for us to grow as a company and as individuals. Any violations of the guidelines outlined above will first be treated as such: an opportunity for growth. Continual or recurrent disregard for the principles outlined in this document will result in punitive action, the extent of which will be contingent on the severity of the offense.
Please see the Code of Conduct session above for the appropriate response to harassment. For all other problems, the following options should be taken, in order:
- If you notice behavior (in yourself or others) that you don’t believe is in keeping with the principles of the handbook/code of conduct, or if a problem arises between you and a coworker, the first consideration should be whether you can work it out with the person in question. Take a look at the guidelines for communicating and for giving feedback, and think about whether it’s possible to work together to address the concern.
- If direct communication has failed, or if you do not feel comfortable directly approaching the person, send an email to Cricket, or to Chris if you don’t feel comfortable talking to Cricket about the issue. Cricket and/or Chris will either directly suggest an appropriate response or will facilitate a conversation between the parties involved. Other co-workers may also be called in for advice or help. We will propose a response within three working days of the problem being brought up. If the parties involved are not comfortable with the proposed response, you may call a review board.
- Review board (see below).
In the event that Chris or Cricket do not feel equipped to deal with the issue alone or informally, if someone feels uncomfortable going directly to Chris or Cricket, or if the parties involved do not feel comfortable with the solution provided by Chris or Cricket after taking the steps above, any employee may call a review board. While everyone should feel comfortable employing this tool if necessary, it should be considered a serious step to be taken when other direct measures have failed. The job of the review board is to come up with a response to the incident or problem that considers the best interests of the company and its employees. The review board is made up of 3 - 4 employees:
- 1 person chosen by Chris
- 1 person chosen by the person whose actions are the subject of the board. If the issue is a dispute between two people, each person chooses a representative.
- 1 person chosen by the entire team with the exception of Chris and those with direct representatives
The review board will meet, either in person or remotely, and decide upon next steps. The review board will present its decision to Chris who will approve, amend, or veto it. If he chooses to amend or veto the decision then the review board will meet again and come up with another decision. Ultimately the review board and Chris must be in agreement on the appropriateness of the company’s response to the incident, and on the scope of any disciplinary action.
In the case that Chris is the Action Figure called before the review board he will forfeit his additional vote (two people will be chosen by popular vote) and the approval process will take place entirely within the review board.
In the End
- Be kind.
- Be generous.
- Fast can be better than slow.
- Slow can be better than fast.
- Positivity matters.
- Avoid pretension; deal plainly.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for being part of Figure 53.