Your policies

Having a code of conduct is just one part of a system of inclusive practices. Many organizations also choose to have diversity statements, participation guidelines, and other ways of communicating their values and expectations. Here’s some examples:

Facilitating important conversations

Implementing your code of conduct is part of a bigger community conversation about how you work together. People bring all sorts of different backgrounds and experience levels to our groups. Learn to understand the difference between acting in good faith and deliberate harm or marginalization. The example you set as a community leader is crucial. Consider seeking out training in anti-oppressive faciliation.

Make sure your policies and processes are explicit and well-documented.

Ideas for event organizers

There are many practices to think about for more inclusive and respectful events. Consider these areas:

For more suggestions try the Less Obvious Conference Checklist.

What you can do when you aren’t in charge

Use your privilege

If you’re invited to speak at an event, ask whether they have a code of conduct and a plan for enforcing it. You can use your privilege to help others who have less by asking questions that might expose them to backlash. Organizers can be more likely to take action when they know they’ll lose valued contributors.

This works in other areas too: if you’re able-bodied, ask about how they’re making things accessible for those who aren’t. If you don’t need to worry about childcare, find out whether they’re providing services for people who do. If you have a lot of experience in a community, you can be the one to push for change because you’re already trusted.

Supporting people who are experiencing harassment

But WHAT CAN BE DONE: Dos and Don’ts To Combat Online Sexism

DO: Express your feelings of support. When you see something unjust happen, say that you condemn it. When someone’s the victim of destructive sexist behavior, defend them– not in a brownie points-seeking way, directing your comments at the victim herself or copying women into your Tweets so that they know you’re a good guy — but in your own channels. When you see friends and colleagues passing on destructive opinions, challenge them. By engaging the issue yourself, you take responsibility.

DO: Boost the individual and her work, not her victimhood. No woman who experiences sexism in her profession wants to be known primarily for “being a woman who experiences sexism.” It is right to defend and support women, and it is right to condemn sexism, but sometimes the best way to do that is by supporting their work. Hundreds of hair-tearing tweets protesting all the terrible sexist things that are happening to so-and-so can actually have the same ultimate effect as sexism: In both cases, the woman is reduced simply to “victim of sexism”.

Safety culture

When we aren’t the people directly impacted by harassment, we can unaware of the ways others can be exposed. It’s easy to accidentally open someone to further harm if you don’t stay aware of how information can be used, and watch how and where you’re communicating about it.

Kinds of information or activities that can be problematic:

If you’re not sure whether something is okay, ask!

Bystander intervention

People often freeze when they see someone being harassed or assaulted because they don’t know what to do. Make use of the five Ds from Hollaback!:

Always remember: safety first! Look around and review the situation before you act. Find a local training on bystander intervention to practice the techniques — these are offered by many community groups.

More reading: