In the last couple of days, I’ve been “listening” on twitter to the #CoCPledge discussion. It boils down to: “If you don’t have a code of conduct for your Conference then I will not speak/attend.”
This initiative was started by Ashe Dryden “nearly a year and a half ago” but for some reason it has flared up on my feed just recently.
The idea is to stop cases of sex, race and other types of discrimination or harassment.
Seems like a no-brainer and it baffles me that some conference organizers don’t support it.
Arguing that “there are laws already” that prevent this kind of behaviors seem to make sense, but just look past your nose for a bit: laws have not prevented people from breaking them.
Having a code of conduct puts this kind of people on notice and leaves the threat - of losing their money or even their jobs - hovering over them. But it also tells those at the other end of the stick - the harassed - that they should feel safe coming to your conference because they will be protected.
The idea of a code of conduct is not new
Commercial establishments still to this day “Reserve the right to refuse admission” which, granted, threads dangerously close to discrimination; a code of conduct that describes clearly what is unacceptable behavior and its consequences doesn’t need to be discriminating.
Another place where we’ve seen code of conducts? Online communities and forums. Nobody complains about those because they give the owners the tools to maintain a healthy community. If you want your conference to be one where attendees want to come back the next year then you’d be well served by having one too.
A code of conduct will not stop harassment from happening, but it will give the organizers the framework and tools to react to those events and resolve the issues.
I profoundly agree with this initiative and will look for the code of conduct before signing up.