For many of us, conferences and professional organizations are a fun and exciting way to advance skills and socialize with like minds.
Unfortunately, these more casual environments are taken advantage of by some individuals who do not value the shared principles and social norms. These individuals tend to prey on women, people of color, LGBTQ, and other minorities creating unsafe and harassing experiences for the victims.
Reputable conferences and organizations create and promote a code of conduct not because it may be legally required but because it values its members and participants and wants to build a safe and welcoming space. The code of conduct and its enforcement is a public declaration of the organization’s values and principles.
Earlier this week, a new CoC by the IA Foundation, the parent organization of the IA Conference (the next iteration of the IA Summit), was brought to light and to say there were problems would be an understatement. Its grievance procedures appeared to protect the violator rather than the victim. It silenced victims and witnesses. It removed a victim’s ability to report and seek safety from conference staff directly. In short, these procedures could never create a safer environment for participants.
Many in the IA community have spoken out this week. Karen McGrane shared “Who experiences code of conduct violations?” We share the thoughts of Paul McAleer, “It must be completely scrapped, and IAF must immediately announce concrete plans – and actions – to address all of this in a way that centers the safety of attendees, speakers, and sponsors – not perpetrators.”
I hope everyone in the #IA community is paying attention to this. The propsed changes to how we deal with COC violations is a major step backward. Please friends, listen and do better.
— Abby Covert (@Abby_the_IA) July 9, 2018
UX Booth partners with exceptional conferences through sponsorships. We value diversity and inclusion in our industry and work to share diverse voices through our publication. Our conference partners are chosen because they share these values and demonstrate it in ways like a strong CoC.
The IA Summit was among those partnerships. We are unable to continue a partnership with the IA Conference until we are confident it can be a safe environment for all.
We are encouraged by a quick reaction from the IAF. We hope the IAF will provide more transparency on how these documents were created and how it will make them better. We encourage IAF leadership to seek out and include women, POC, LGBTQ who might be aware of all lgbtq flags, and other minorities in the discussions and revisions.