This code aims to support an inclusive environment at all GEN events. It outlines expectations for the behaviour of all participants, as well as the steps that will be taken if these expectations are not met.
Vision and values
GEN forums enable the open exchange of ideas, freedom of thought and expression, and respectful debate. While enabling challenging intellectual debate, our vision is for a community and an environment that recognises the inherent worth of every person and group. We endeavour to foster inclusion, dignity, understanding, and mutual respect, and to embrace diversity.
Expectations of behaviours
We expect participants to follow the code of conduct at all conferences, meeting-related social events, workshops, network gatherings, and online communication channels.
The following principles represent the behaviours that GEN expects of all participants:
- Be inclusive. Be open to ideas that make your own ideas richer and stronger, rather than aiming to “win” every disagreement or argument. If you find yourself dominating a discussion, make way for other voices and listen actively to them. Be respectful of people with different cultural practices, attitudes and beliefs and work to be aware of and eliminate your own biases, prejudices and discriminatory practices.
- Be kind. Be aware of your impact and how interactions may be affecting people. Take responsibility for your impact – if someone says they have been harmed through your words or actions, listen carefully, apologize sincerely, and correct the behaviour going forward.
- Be respectful. Value each other’s ideas, styles and viewpoints and be open to different possibilities and to being wrong. Think about how you can provide your contribution in a way that respects the contributions of others.
- Be constructive and keep the end goal in mind. Speak directly when you disagree or have a different perspective. But also think about whether what you have to say will contribute meaningfully to the debate. Has your point already been expressed by someone else? Is your contribution related to the main topic under discussion, or is it a tangent? Have you already spoken, and would it be more worthwhile to hear from someone new?
- Be a positive example. Be pro-active and a positive role model in your language and behaviour at all times. Hold yourself and others accountable for inclusive behaviours.
Specific behaviours considered unacceptable under these guidelines are violence and threats of violence; encouraging a person to commit self-harm; personal attacks or derogatory language; unwelcome sexual attention or physical contact; and disruptive behaviour.
Implementation of code
GEN will actively seek to create an inclusive environment at its events and other interactions. We will:
- Ensure all speakers and other participants are aware of and agree to the code of conduct as part of registration for an event.
- Remind participants of the key principles of the code of conduct at the start of the event and/or at the start of questions and discussions. This includes providing clarity on the point of conduct for reporting any breaches of the code.
- Seek diversity of speakers at a conference or across a series of events.
- Adopt a range of activities and facilitation techniques to encourage contributions from a range of participants.
- Actively facilitate events to encourage inclusive, and discourage exclusive, behaviours. For example, facilitators will be prepared to prevent one or a few participants from dominating the discussion and will actively solicit the views of those who have not yet participated in the discussion. Facilitators will aim to actively ensure the discussion reflects the make-up of the room and is not dominated by participants from a single organisation, demographic, or background.
- Develop guidance on active facilitation for our facilitators and provide training or guidance to our GEN Board on how to be an ‘active bystander’.
- Ensure venues are accessible to those with visual, auditory, and mobility impairments, consider those from the neurodiverse community, and allow virtual attendance where feasible.
- Have a range of different times for events so at least some events are convenient for people with different schedules or responsibilities.
- Seek feedback after events as to whether participants felt able to contribute and seeking ideas of as to how the event could have been more inclusive or more successful.
Breaches of code
We ask all participants to play their role in promoting an inclusive and positive environment for all our activities. If you experience or observe behaviour that is not consistent with our code of conduct, we ask you to take responsibility and decided to be an ‘active bystander’. We encourage all participants at GEN events to speak out against behaviours that undermine an inclusive environment and to show empathy and concern for the person who is impacted negatively by these behaviours. If you feel safe to, you might consider raising the behaviour with the responsible person in a constructive way. They may not have realised their impact and your intervention may support their learning. If you are unsure of the right move, ask others to help you work it out.
If a participant engages in harassing behaviour – whether intentional or unintentional – event organisers or their designees may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender, expulsion from the event and potential exclusion from future events, or contacting a higher authority such as a representative from the offender’s institution.
If you experience or notice harassing behaviour and feel comfortable and safe to do so, please contact the event organisers or any member of the GEN board. Please be assured that if you approach us, your concerns will be kept in strict confidence, and we will consult with you on any actions taken. If reporting at the time was too difficult, you are welcome to report this to any of our Board members after the event occurs.