DISCOVER Cookbook Diverse & Inclusive Spaces and Conferences

Code of Conduct (CoC)

Tags: Code of Conduct, Being Respectful, Sexual Harassment, Bullying, Giving Participants Room to Be Who They Are

  • 🍎 Articulate a Code of Conduct for your event
  • Get inspired by Codes of Conduct that have been phrased for other conferences (see also “Further Reading”)

Goals

A Code of Conduct should:

  • Be easy to read (You shouldn’t need a law degree to understand it.)
  • Be easy to find
  • Explain how to report problematic or unethical behavior
  • Explain the consequences of violating Code of Conduct provisions
  • Include timelines/deadlines for enforcement action that will be taken

Additional ways to support and implement your Code of Conduct:

  • Include FAQs
  • Encourage positive behavior (don’t just discourage negative behavior)
  • Have a “quick” version and a “less quick” version (e.g. JSConf)

Awareness

Make sure that everyone involved in your conference/event is aware that the Code of Conduct applies to them: that not only includes participants, but also speakers, sponsors, committee members etc.

  • 🍎 Tick box at registration that confirms that the participant has read the Code of Conduct
    • A pop-up with a short version may also be a good idea.
    • Provide a link to the full (“less quick”) version of the Code of Conduct, hosted on its own page.
  • 🍎 Include a copy of the Code of Conduct in the sponsor packet
  • 🍎 Mention that the Code of Conduct applies to the speakers in the speaker guidelines
  • 🍎 Ensure that Code of Conduct is easily accessible on the conference website
    • Should be in main navigation or in the footer (footer is a known pattern, near privacy policy / terms of service)
    • Implement additional web-based highlights of the CoC via loading pages, pop-ups, screen savers, etc.
  • 🍎 Include a short version of the Code of Conduct on the printed schedule as a reminder
  • 🍎 Mention the Code of Conduct in the welcome talk and at the start of every day, including who to contact if there is a problem/violation
  • 🍎 Place Code of Conduct reminders on tables at lunch and also signs in rooms reminding people during the day
  • 🍎 Create a large banner sign at key entrances on the Code of Conduct as a reminder.
  • If you send out daily event e-mails, include an item on "Seeing or experiencing something that makes you uncomfortable"
  • "Remember that you can always speak to one of our ombudspersons about any matter of concern, no matter how small."
  • Include short blurbs about the Code of Conduct during breaks (e.g. during slide breaks), on websites, etc.
  • Consider a visual "workflow" of Code of Conduct violation:
    • Report -> Action -> Resolution
  • Make it clear what the consequences or resolutions of a violation are

Reporting

  • Ensure confidentiality of the person who is reporting the violation (and the alleged violator)
  • Ensure that the data is stored securely with limited access
  • Make sure that people are aware of reporting mechanisms:
    • Face to face with staff (Who is the dedicated ombudsperson or -persons?)
    • Dedicated email, e.g. to conduct@yourdomain.org
    • Fill out an online form, e.g. O’Reilly Report CoC
  • Consider how a report against an authority figure would be submitted — e.g. if the ombudsperson is the subject of a CoC violation report, who is the report submitted to? (A good reason to have more than one ombudsperson.)

Enforcement

  • Be clear on how long it will take to resolve the situation or take an action on the violation
  • Discuss in advance with the organizing committee what the specific process will be for recording and addressing a CoC violation
  • When recording a CoC violation, ensure that the data are stored securely and that everyone's identities are protected. Access to the data should be limited.
  • When possible, have a third party review the violation report (Another good way to handle the challenge of potential reports against authority figures.)
  • Ensure the person who made the CoC violation report is aware of how it is being handled and when it has been resolved.

Further reading

Why You Need a Code of Conduct

Crafting a Code of Conduct

Managing a Code of Conduct


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