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Introduction

This code of conduct governs all of Vital as a company. We created this not in anticipation of bad behaviour but as we believe that articulating our values and obligations to one another reinforces the respect, trust, and safety (both physical and psychological) among the team. The code will also provide us with clear avenues to correct our culture should it ever stray from course.

We are committed to providing you with a safe and healthy workplace and meeting all of your employment rights and entitlements. You can find out more about your employment and health and safety entitlements on the websites of Employment New Zealand and/or USAGov.

Scope

This code of conduct applies to our interactions in various areas of our shared professional lives including the Vital hubs, off-site company events, our Slack and email exchanges, pull request feedback, and industry conferences or other events where we represent Vital.

This code of conduct also applies to experiences that form a more personal basis such as shared walks to get lunch, meetups or conferences that are attended as a group but not as explicit representation of Vital, and communication across social media.

Harassing or unwelcoming behaviour between colleagues still has a profound impact when it happens beyond our walls. We want the entire team to feel safe while working so if someone’s behaviour outside of work compromises that, this code of conduct is designed to respond to such incidents.

Values

Calm, Clear, Empathetic, yet Adventurous

Our culture and values as a company are reflected in the product we create. We therefore want to create a safe, fun, and productive environment where those values are consistently demonstrated by each of the team. Adventurous, in this context, means we’re willing to experiment and take calculated risks to change the status quo.

Expected Behaviour

Every member of the team is expected to balance working hard and looking after themselves (and others), being considerate and trusting of their colleagues in the process. Everyone can (and should) contribute to nurture a positive and collaborative environment in which we can all succeed, taking measured risks to build a better company (and product) than our competition.

Strive to be trustworthy and open with one another, knowing that trust grows over time and can be broken quickly. Trust powers every interaction we have with one another; it allows for candid communication and affords our colleagues valuable insight as to how each of us think and operate. This helps drive an open, creative, and collaborative environment from which we can all benefit.

Collaborate and be supportive of your colleagues. We are all working towards the same goal and it is easy to get tunnel vision; make sure to include your colleagues in brainstorms, planning sessions, code reviews etc, and value the input they have. We also pride ourselves on being a teaching environment so if you see someone struggling or if someone approaches you for help, be generous with your time. If you are under time pressure, point them in the direction of someone else who may be able to assist.

Assume competence and be kind when giving and receiving feedback. Our thorough interviewing process means you can assume competence and have confidence in your colleagues. We should all be striving to be better and feedback is a natural and important part of growing and achieving that. Good feedback is kind, respectful, clear, and constructive. You are expected to give and receive feedback with humility and without ego.

Be inclusive and respectful in online and IRL interactions. Make an effort to include people in team lunches and impromptu get togethers where reasonable. When it comes to our distributed team members, adopt habits that are inclusive and productive wherever they are; make use of Zoom, document meetings and decisions thoroughly, and pay attention to time zones when scheduling events (Clocker is fantastic for this). Remember that tone can be difficult to interpret via text and always be calm, clear, and direct in your communications (whether online or IRL).

Be humane. We are all here to work hard but sometimes life just gets in the way. Be supportive, kind, and empathetic to your colleagues both inside and outside of the workplace. Treat their identities and cultures with respect; make an effort to say people's names correctly and refer to them by their chosen pronouns. Listen carefully and actively, ask questions, and encourage others to listen as much as they speak.

Unacceptable Behaviour

We are committed to providing a safe, productive, and welcoming environment for all members of the team - existing and future - across all of our hubs and distributed locations.

Aggression, whether micro or direct, is not conducive to the culture and environment that we are cultivating here at Vital; it can have a significantly negative impact on people and there is simply no room for it. We expect our team members to be able to recognise and/or take feedback when they are displaying such behaviour and to take responsibility for correcting their actions.

Deliberate misuse of PHI, Confidential Information, and company property, whether physical or intellectual. We expect each member of the team to adhere to their employee agreement/contract they signed when joining.

Discrimination including but not limited to age, gender identity and expression, physical ability and appearance, race, nationality, relationship or family status, religion and belief, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background will not be tolerated.

Harassment can include, but is not limited to, inappropriate physical contact; intentional or repeated misgendering; intimidation; stalking; unwanted recording or photography; unwelcome sexual attention; use of sexual or discriminatory comments, imagery or jokes; ableist, racist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory or derogatory language.

Consequences

All unacceptable behaviour described above is considered misconduct. When misconduct is brought to our attention, you can expect that we will work towards a fair investigation and outcome process with a fair and proportionate outcome. We will always work with the intention of restorative justice, but serious or repeated misconduct (as defined by Employment New Zealand may result in dismissal. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of a misconduct investigation, you can talk to a member of the executive team.

If we are unable to agree on a fair and proportionate response, we can contact the Early Resolution Service within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) (or the US-specific counterpart) who can provide us with advice and meditation support.

Reporting/Complaints Process

Why should I report?

You are responsible for making Vital a safe and comfortable space for everyone. Everyone in our team shares this responsibility.

The consequences for the entire Vital team of not reporting bad behavior outweigh the consequences for one person of reporting it. We sometimes hear “I don’t want X person to meet consequences because I told someone about their bad behavior.” Consider the impact on everyone else at Vital of letting their behavior continue unchecked.

Our team works best when there is shared trust between colleagues. Reporting code of conduct violations helps us identify when this trust is broken to prevent that from happening in the future.

How should I report?

When something goes wrong—whether it’s a microaggression or an instance of harassment—there are a number of things you can do to address the situation with your fellow team members or with our people and culture team. We know that you’ll do your best work if you’re happy and comfortable in your surroundings, so we take concerns about this stuff seriously. Depending on your comfort level and the severity of the situation, here are some things you can do to address it:

Address it directly. If you’re comfortable bringing up the incident with the person who instigated it, pull them aside to discuss how it affected you. Be sure to approach these conversations in a forgiving spirit: an angry or tense conversation will not do either of you any good. If you’re unsure how to go about that, try discussing with your manager or with the people and culture team first—they might have some advice about how to make this conversation happen.

If you’re too frustrated to have a direct conversation, there are a number of alternate routes you can take.

Talk to a peer or mentor. Your colleagues are likely to have personal and professional experience on which to draw that could be of use to you. If you have someone you’re comfortable approaching, reach out and discuss the situation with them. They may be able to advise on how they would handle it, or direct you to someone who can. The flip side of this, of course, is that you should also be available when your colleagues reach out to you.

Talk to your manager. Your manager probably knows quite a lot about the dynamics of your team, which makes them a good person to look to for advice. They may also be able to talk directly to the colleague in question if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe doing so yourself. Finally, your manager will be able to help you figure out how to ensure that any conflict with a colleague doesn’t interfere with your work.

Talk to a member of the exec team. Our leadership team are happy to talk to you in person or remotely about the problem and help figure out what steps to take. Members of the leadership team are good at listening to concerns about small violations, but they’ll also be able to help out in situations where more drastic action needs to be taken. In all cases, the leadership team will make every effort to stay in clear communication with anyone who reports a problem, maintaining confidentiality whenever possible. Depending on the severity and urgency of a particular issue, the member of the leadership team you’ve spoken to may need to escalate a report to include managers or our legal team. Where this is necessary, you can expect to be kept in the loop about the progress of your report.

If you don’t feel comfortable discussing this in person, you can email your report to a member of the leadership team or fill out a form. Just make sure to include the following:

  • A detailed description of what happened.

    • If the violation happened online, please link to or send us the relevant text.

    • If the violation happened in person, please detail what exactly the other person said or did. In order to take action, we need to know the concrete actions that someone took.

  • Where and when the incident happened.

  • Any other relevant context. Do you have examples of a pattern of similar behaviour from this person before? Do you have a relationship with this person outside of Vital?

  • If/how you’ve already responded—this lets us know the current state of the situation.

Confidentiality

We will keep all reports confidential, except if we've discussed with you and agreed otherwise. When we discuss incidents with people who are reported, we will anonymise details as much as we can to protect reporter privacy.

However, some incidents happen in one-on-one interactions, and even if the details are anonymised, the reported person may be able to guess who made the report. If you have concerns about retaliation or your personal safety, and do not want us to share the details of your report with anyone (including the perpetrator) please let us know explicitly in your report. Unfortunately, in that situation we will not be able to take any action.

In some cases we may decide to share an update about a major incident with the entire Vital team. If that's the case, the identities of all victims and reporters will remain confidential unless those individuals instruct us otherwise.

Credits

The Vital Code of Conduct was drafted with inspiration from the following;

https://18f.gsa.gov/code-of-conduct/

https://www.recurse.com/code-of-conduct

http://code-of-conduct.voxmedia.com/

The 18F and Recurse Codes of Conduct are available as public domain under the terms of the CC0 license. Credit to The Vox Media Code of Conduct, which is available under the terms of the CC-BY 4.0 license.