As part of our Code of Conduct process we’re publishing a transparency report about how we dealt with our Code of Conduct, any incidents at the conference and our response, and lessons learned.
DjangoCon Europe had a Code of Conduct (CoC). Our main goals with this were to ensure everyone feels safe and included, setting expectations, and ensuring trust in our incident handling process. We set up a Code of Conduct Active Response Ensurers (CARE) team to handle any incidents.
We would like to thank all our participants for helping us build an inclusive community. In particular, we’d like to note that in all cases where an attendee violated the CoC and was contacted by us, they responded with understanding and apologies. We also want to thank anyone who brought an incident to our attention.
We took a number of specific steps:
- Every participant agreed to the Code of Conduct in advance.
- The CoC, or a summary, was included on the conference website, conference booklet, and in posters around the conference, party and sprint venues.
- Printed material for the CoC included an email address and a phone number for reporting incidents. Where there was space, the names of the CARE team members were listed.
- The CoC was repeatedly mentioned in announcements on the stage.
- We specifically stressed that the CoC applies to all conference spaces including the party, and therefore attendees should drink responsibly.
- We reviewed all (draft) slides of all speakers in advance for CoC or other inclusivity issues.
- We wrote and published a response guide, to provide structure in the process for the CARE team, and ensure all other organisers and volunteers knew what to do if they noticed a possible CoC incident.
- The Django Software Foundation Code of Conduct committee was provided with a list of all speakers and other participants, to check if any of them had been involved in serious prior incidents.
Unfortunately, the CARE team discovered on the last day of the sprints that the mobile phone listed as the CoC contact disconnected from the network at some time during the conference. It was likely not reachable for a number of days. We consider that a serious issue. Using information from the provider, we determined that fortunately no calls were missed. In the future, we should monitor this more carefully, and probably test the phone every day.
Review of slides for all speakers
All speakers were required to submit a draft version of their slides, ideally in the week before the conference, as far complete as possible. Multiple members of the CARE team reviewed each slide deck for Code of Conduct and inclusivity issues. This can not guarantee there will be no CoC issues when a talk is actually delivered, but it reduces the risk.
In a handful of presentations, we did encounter one or two minor issues, and the speakers subsequently made changes, and were understanding of our requests. We did not encounter any severe issues. In addition, we mentioned other details if we happened to notice them, like typos on slides. We thank all our speakers for working with us in this process, and being receptive to our feedback.
In total the CARE team handled six incidents at the conference. We share anonymised summaries here to provide examples of what kind of incidents happen, often unbeknownst to most attendees, and how we handle them.
Incident 1: exclusionary joke at dinner
An attendee made an exclusionary joke at a dinner. This dinner happened before the conference started, but, guided by our CoC, the CARE team decided that the CoC did apply, because the dinner involved a mixed group of attendees and was set up through the conference Slack.
We decided to contact the offender and make clear that this is not acceptable under the CoC. They responded in an understanding way, and apologised for the incident. We also informed the original reporter of our decision and the outcome.
Incident 2: exclusionary communication by sponsor
A sponsor shared a communication at the conference. Upon review, the CARE team found that this communication was exclusionary and in violation of the CoC, and asked the sponsor to amend the communication, or it would have to be removed entirely from the conference. The sponsor was understanding and resolved the issues in the communication.
We’re aware that this summary is particularly vague, but we prioritise anonymity over clarity in this transparency report.
Incident 3: hate message on bathroom sign
A sign in one of the bathrooms at the conference venue was vandalised with a hateful message. As there was no chance of identifying the person who wrote the message, we decided to simply replace the poster. We did not find any way to increase our chances of finding the offender.
Incident 4: harassment by non-attendees at party
At the conference party, two men who were not conference attendees, managed to sneak into the party venue. Both the security guards and two organisers that confronted the two men, were initially misled by the two men having wristbands. The wristbands were likely reused from a previous event where the venue used the same wristbands. Before further action could be taken, the two men left. An attendee then reported that one of the men harassed her in the women’s bathroom.
Organisers immediately informed venue security, who went looking for the two men, but they were not seen again. The venue was told to ensure they would not enter again. The organisers offered the attendee any needed support in getting back to her hotel safely and comfortably.
Upon review the next day, the CARE team concluded there was no further action to take. The team did reach out to the attendee with an apology, and thanks for reporting it. A lesson of this incident is that safety can be enhanced at conference parties by not only having security staff checking for badges or wristbands, but by also ensuring that wristbands or similar items are unique to the conference party.
Incident 5: exclusionary joke at party
Towards the end of the conference party, an attendee was overheard making an exclusionary joke. The CARE team reviewed this the next day, and decided the incident was a CoC violation. The attendee was informed that their behaviour was a violation, and asked not to make any such jokes in the future. The attendee responded that they also realised afterwards that it was not appropriate, and apologised.
Incident 6: violent joke in conference Slack
An attendee made a violent joke in the conference Slack. The CARE team decided this was a violation of the CoC, but felt it was also clear that no actual harm was intended. It seemed like an appropriate joke between people who know each other well, but the CARE team was concerned about the perception by other attendees.. The message was removed from the Slack, and the attendee was notified. The attendee understood the action taken and apologised.
About this report
This list is not meant to spread shame or blame. We’re publishing it to show why our CoC is important, and how it is enforced in practice. We hope that by publishing our reports, we will encourage people to report incidents in the future, and that other conferences can learn from our mistakes and our successes.
We welcome any feedback, and we would like to thank the DjangoCon Europe community – attendees, speakers, and organisers alike – for working with us.
We thank the organisers of DjangoCon Europe 2016 and 2017 for their transparency report, on which this report is inspired.