This post was inspired by PyCon’s leadership in building inclusive communities by publishing a code of conduct transparency report .
All Code for America events have a code of conduct. For Code for America Brigade hack nights, the code of conduct is specialized and upheld by the local brigade. For the Code for America Summit — our flagship annual event — we have a strict code of conduct that’s shared from the stage and in all materials, and is upheld by staff. This year, Laurenellen McCann taught a session for all the Code for America Brigades at pre-summit, which covered intervention training and upholding codes of conduct. One of the concepts they covered was that even if there’s a great code of conduct in place, that even if reports are made and followed up on in a timely way — there’s still another step: Closing the loop. This requires that we circle back with the community to check in with each other after an incident and see how we’re doing. It’s also another opportunity to learn and grow. This post is an effort to share how the reporting and responding went, what we did as a result. We hope it’s also a starting point to check in with each other and heal.
1. Code for America staff witnessed a summit attendee make comments in violation of the code of conduct. The comments were made during a daytime session, and were in regard to the gender identity of another person.
The staff member intervened at the moment, and also followed up in private with the attendee who made the comments to review the code of conduct and expectations. The attendee was told not to make further inappropriate comments.
Code for America staff checked in with the person whose gender identity was commented on. No further action was taken.
2. A summit attendee made a verbal code of conduct violation report that indicated another summit attendee made harassing comments during an evening event. Witnesses to the incidents reported the incident to Code for America staff. The report indicated: At an evening event that was an informal part of the Code for America Summit an attendee was making harassing comments. The person reportedly attempted to engage other summit attendees that same night in targeting the same person who felt harassed.
Code for America staff followed up with the reported attendee to review the code of conduct and expectations. The reported attendee was told not to continue the reported behavior which included making similar comments to the person in question and encouraging other attendees to engage in similar comments about that person.
Code for America concluded the follow-up by speaking with the person who was named as the target of the behavior to ensure the person felt safe and understood Code for America’s enforcement of the Code of Conduct. This case is considered closed.
3. A Summit attendee made a written code of conduct violation report to Code for America staff that the behavior and comments of another attendee made them feel unwelcome. The report indicated:
At a daytime workshop, the reported person did not treat them with respect during a question and answer session, and made a condescending remark about their contributions. The person reporting it said that it felt like “benevolent sexism” that made them feel unwelcome.
Code for America staff contacted the person who reported the behavior, but we were unable to positively identify the reported person to follow up with them and are still investigating.
4. A Summit attendee verbally reported a code of conduct violation to Code for America staff that the behavior and comments of another attendee made them feel disrespected and uncomfortable. The report indicated: At an evening event, the reported person was inserting themselves in conversations disrespectfully and repeatedly with uncomfortable and inappropriate contributions.
The person who reported the attendee felt that those present intervened appropriately in the moment, but wanted to alert Code for America staff in case there were other issues with the person who was reported. Code for America now considers this case closed.
5. Code for America staff assigned to monitor Twitter observed a tweet from an attendee reporting that they were harassed. Staff followed up to check on that person and confirmed that this occurred outside the venue by a non-attendee. Code for America considers this case closed.
Code for America staff confirmed that a handful of people who’ve violated the Code of Conduct or otherwise behaved inappropriately in a way that resulted in a ban from Code for America events in the past were not invited and were not present at Summit events.
We have more work to do, but are so grateful to the people who reported these incidents, the people who lived by the Code of Conduct, and the people who are working to do better. We’re working to live up to the trust you’ve placed in us as conveners.