Many conferences and open source projects have adopted Codes of Conduct over the past couple of years. These have been put in place in an effort to make the communities more welcoming to a diverse crowd of people. Unfortunately, as tech communities still tend toward white and male, this is a necessary action to take in order to make communities more inclusive. Often someone who does not fit the stereotype of a programmer does not feel comfortable in these situations because they are the only one and the culture has become toxic.
These Codes of Conduct are an awesome place to start. They tell all the people involved in the conference or the open source group that the organization has made a conscious decision to be more inclusive and open. These Codes of Conduct lay out broad categories of things that are unacceptable and then tell how a violation will be dealt with. However, the problem arises when there is an actual violation. How exactly should it be dealt with? What sort of offense was really just a misunderstanding and once all parties are aware, the situation can be easily resolved? What action constitutes a bigger offense and the perpetrator needs a more serious punishment? What are actions that are so offensive that the person should be kicked out of the community permanently?
Over the last year, it has come to our attention time and time again that the people called upon to deal with the Code of Conduct violations just don’t know how to answer these questions. There can be a lot of pressure from both the victim and the possible perpetrator to deal with the situation in one way or another. They often wish that there was a guide which dictated that this happened and therefore this is the punishment. That there was such a document that could accompany the Code of Conduct to give people guidelines as to how to resolve a particular conflict.
Thus, our working group on the accountability ladder was born. We pulled together conference organizers and people from as many different open source projects as we could. Then we sat down to the hard work of actually writing such a document. We began with a lose outline and then went through it line by line. The different members of the group shared their stories of incidents (of course in very broad terms) with different types of Code of Conduct violations that they had worked to resolve. Then we would come up with wording that reflected the sentiments of the group for that particular level. Needless to say it was a slow moving process! We greatly appreciate the time and energy that all the group members dedicated to the process.
One big desire of the group was to also focus on the positive side of this and assume that most people do want to be an ally and help, but for whatever reason may need more education. So we started the document out with a section on "How to be Awesome." This section of the Ladder lists several websites and resources on how to be an effective ally. If anyone has any other favorite resources we would love to add to it.
Then the Ladder goes into four different levels of offenses. It begins with small offenses and works its way up to illegal offenses where the police should be brought in immediately.
So go have a look and see! We posted it on github. This document will be applicable at all This Dot events. However, we want everyone to use it! So please copy it or fork it and tailor it to fit your organization's needs. We would also love your feedback on it! This document is a living and we intend to modify it as we can to improve it and meet its' users needs.
This article was written by Eva Howe who is Operations Manager at This Dot.
You can follow her on Twitter at @evahowe .
As we all know being a competent software developer or engineer means continuously learning throughout your career. It’s great! That makes this profession exciting and allows to escape everyday routine at work. In fact, it’s not a job anymore - it’s a lifestyle 👩💻👨💻