This section left alone from the original author’s version:
While I agree with the intent, I strongly object to the particularly wording, for the following reasons:
The only thing it's concerned with is harassment, setting a very negative tone. It suggests that unless warned, monitored and policed, many conference attendees will intimidate, insult, grope and stalk each other. It presumes the worst and treats exceptions as the norm. This does not match the actual experience of attendees at events.
It then goes on to equate harassment with being offended on every politically sensitive topic in the book. Yet offense is in the eye of the beholder. Two people can have a conversation and each think the other person said offensive things. Someone who is offended is not automatically being harassed, and assuming all offense is deliberate ignores the intent of the person causing it.
Without further clarification, 'sexual images in public spaces' and 'sexualized material' are considered unacceptable and lumped under harassment as well, regardless of context. This is prudish and short-sighted, forcibly equating harmless jokes a 12 year old might make with outright criminal conduct and crass objectification for monetary gain.
It focuses on punishment rather than resolution, threatening expulsion, police involvement and suggesting that a personal escort may be required in order to feel safe at a social gathering of likeminded people. Accused offenders are expected to shut up and comply.
Proposed Code of Conduct for Conferences
Be excellent to each other, keep calm and enjoy the ride.
- We welcome and promote diversity in our speakers and attendees.
- We encourage attendees to approach each other with an open mind, without prejudice, and without assumptions about them or their reasons for attending.
- We encourage face-to-face communication over social media backchannel talk and gossip, but recognize this isn’t always an option for everyone.
- We expect everyone to promote their ideas tastefully, in an inclusive manner. We discourage jokes or comments that disparage or come at the expense of entire groups, as they often contribute to making those groups feel unwelcome.
- We understand that things may not always go smoothly, so in the event of a problem attendees are encouraged to find a staff member or organizer. We take all concerns raised very seriously.
[name of event] is an event where people come together to meet, share, listen and learn. We believe the best way to accomplish this is to value and promote diversity in our speakers and attendees. People of all shapes, colors, sizes, ages, genders, orientations, abilities and walks of life are welcome. We aim to select speakers on the merit of their ideas, not who they are, and actively try to combat unconscious selection bias by controlling for it in the selection process. We do our best to make the conference accessible to everyone and welcome feedback and suggestions to achieve this.
The Golden Rule of Behavior
Human interaction and communication can be awkward and uncomfortable, and stepping outside one's comfort zone is not without some risk: whether through a difference in perspective, past experiences, or because of cultural and language barriers, the possibility of misinterpretation is always there. Give fellow attendees the benefit of the doubt, and treat them like you would like to be treated. Understand that different cultures can have very different ideas on what is considered appropriate, and that not everyone is a fluent, native speaker.
If offense does occur, the best way to address this is between the parties involved. We encourage conference attendees to speak their mind openly, as well as be receptive to criticism from others—for instance by asking for elaboration, rather than getting defensive, as a first reaction. We all make mistakes. When direct or personal confrontation is not the right answer for you, our staff will be available to discuss incidents and help mediate disputes in private.
Context is crucial
In the case of disputes, sharing the incident with an external audience like Twitter, Facebook or your personal blog, before involving the staff in the matter, takes the incident out of context and presents it to people in ways that may not accurately represent the situation. This can have negative effects that outweigh the positives, and lead to other people (especially those not present at the event) blowing things out of proportion when a staff member could have helped resolve the issue privately and to the satisfaction of all parties involved.
Industry events are public workspaces; in many ways, attending them is like starting a new job a large company. Treating the experience as such can help solve conflict quickly and effectively, should any arise.
Fun, but professional
Speakers and sponsors should keep in mind that they are acting in an official, highly visible capacity at the conference, and that their particular choices can send a strong signal to attendees. Talks and exhibits should be designed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, and in-jokes, memes and shallow appeal should be avoided. Hired models in work-inappropriate attire are not welcome for exhibition booths.
We encourage all attendees to make an effort to welcome others to conversations and lunch tables. We aim to provide an event that is a fun experience for everyone, while maintaining professional decorum.
If Something Goes Wrong, We Will Fix It
If despite our best efforts the worst has happened, we will take matters seriously, including warnings and expulsion if deemed appropriate, after discussion with all parties involved. We will not hesitate to involve local law enforcement if outright harassement occurs.
If you feel harassed or see someone being harassed, please speak out and/or alert a member of the staff. We will not hesitate to let attendees know when certain behaviors are not acceptable.