Code de conduite

This document lays out what we expect from attendees as members of that community. It borrows from both the PyCon Code of Conduct and the O’Reilly Media Code of Conduct, but has been modified to reflect the unique nature of Startupfest’s distributed, week-long, informal format.

Startupfest is an event for networking, learning, and collaboration among investors, founders, and advisors in the field of startups and entrepreneurship. Every member of the startup community brings value to the event, and we want all attendees to have an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. Accordingly, all attendees are expected to show respect and courtesy to other attendees throughout the conference and at all conference events, whether part of the core Startupfest conference, its workshops, offsite events, or related events that happen during the Startupfest week.

To make clear what is expected, all delegates/attendees, speakers, exhibitors, organizers and volunteers at any Startupfest event are required to conform to the following Code of Conduct. Organizers will enforce this code throughout the event.

At Startupfest, we assume that most people are intelligent and well-intended, and we’re not inclined to tell people what to do. However, we’ve recently come to see that sometimes it’s necessary to spell out the behavior we support and don’t support at conferences. The core of our approach is this: we will do whatever we believe is necessary to ensure that Startupfest is a safe and productive environment for everyone.

One issue that has come up at some technical and startup conferences is sexual or racist comments or images in slides. This is not appropriate. Speakers and exhibitors should use good judgment; if we hear complaints and we think they are warranted, you may not be invited back.

Even more alarmingly, we’ve heard accounts of female attendees having to put up with stalking, offensive comments, and unwanted sexual advances. We’d like to borrow a line from the Flickr Community Guidelines, which use the term Creepiness as follows: “You know the guy. Don’t be that guy.” If we hear that you are “that guy” (regardless of your gender), we will investigate and take any action we feel is appropriate, including asking you to leave.

Please bring any concerns to the immediate attention of the event staff, or contact Phil Telio (phil@startupfest.local) or Pamela Perrotti (pamela@startupfest.local).

The Short Version

This event is for everyone. Startupfest is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion.

Don’t harass people. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form.

Communicate appropriately. All communication should be appropriate for a professional audience including people of many different backgrounds. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks.

Stop immediately. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior, whether by other attendees or event staff, are expected to comply immediately.

Handle situations appropriately. Try to address problems immediately, directly, and tactfully.

Be kind to others. Do not insult or put down other attendees. Behave professionally. Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate for Startupfest.

Or else. Attendees violating these rules may be asked to leave the conference at the sole discretion of the conference organizers.

What is harassment?

Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, public shaming, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Harassment also includes public shaming, both as provocation and as retaliation; this Code of Conduct outlines ways of dealing with problems that may arise and these should be how problems are escalated.

Exhibitors and sponsors are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material.

Be careful in the words that you choose. Remember that sexist, racist, and other exclusionary jokes can be offensive to those around you. Excessive swearing and offensive jokes are not appropriate for Startupfest.

Contact Information

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff. Conference staff will be wearing « Startupfest Staff » badges and distinctive T-shirts.

If the matter is especially urgent, please call/contact any of these individuals:

Phil Telio at +1 (514) 909-9709
Pamela Perrotti at +1(514) 816-8124

Conference staff will do what is necessary to help participants contact venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.

Attendee Procedure for Handling Harassment

These procedures have been adopted from the Ada Initiative’s guide titled « Conference anti-harassment/Responding to Reports”.

  • 1. Keep in mind that all conference staff will be clearly marked as staff, wearing shirts and badges and in some cases using radios to communicate. The staff will also be prepared to handle the incident. All of our staff are informed of the code of conduct policy and guide for handling harassment at the conference.
  • 2. Report the harassment incident (preferably in writing) to a conference staff member. All reports are confidential.

When reporting the event to staff, try to gather as much information as available, but do not interview people about the incident. Staff will assist you in writing the report/collecting information.

The important information consists of:

  • Identifying information (name/company) of the participant doing the harassing
  • The behavior that was in violation
  • The approximate time of the behavior (if different than the time the report was made)
  • The circumstances surrounding the incident
  • Other people involved in the incident

The staff is well informed on how to deal with the incident and how to further proceed with the situation.

If everyone is presently physically safe, involve law enforcement or security only at a victim’s request. If you do feel your safety in jeopardy please do not hesitate to contact local law enforcement by dialing 911. If you do not have a cell phone, you can ask a staff member.

If at all possible, all reports should be made directly to Phil Telio or Pamela Perrotti.

Staff procedure for handling harrassment

Be sure to have a good understanding of our Code of Conduct policy, and attendee instructions for handling harassment, which can be found on the Startupfest website.

Try to get as much of the incident in written form by the reporter. If you cannot, transcribe it yourself as it was told to you. The important information to gather includes the following:

  • Identifying information (name/company) of the participant doing the harassing
  • The behavior that was in violation
  • The approximate time of the behavior (if different than the time the report was made)
  • The circumstances surrounding the incident
  • Other people involved in the incident

Prepare an initial response to the incident. This initial response is very important and will set the tone for Startupfest. Depending on the severity/details of the incident, please follow these guidelines:

  • If there is any general threat to attendees or the safety of anyone including conference staff is in doubt, summon security or police.
  • Offer the victim a private place to sit
  • Ask “is there a friend or trusted person who you would like to be with you?” (if so, arrange for someone to fetch this person)
  • Ask them “how can I help?”
  • Provide them with emergency contacts if they need help later
  • If everyone is presently physically safe, involve law enforcement or security only at a victim’s request.

There are also some guidelines as to what not to do as an initial response:

  • Do not overtly invite them to withdraw the complaint or mention that withdrawal is OK. This suggests that you want them to do so, and is therefore coercive. “If you’re OK with it [pursuing the complaint]” suggests that you are by default pursuing it and is not coercive.
  • Do not ask for their advice on how to deal with the complaint. This is a staff responsibility
  • Do not offer them input into penalties. This is the staff’s responsibility

Once something is reported to a staff member, immediately meet with the conference chair and/or event coordinator. The main objectives of this meeting is to find out the following:

  • What happened?
  • Are we doing anything about it?
  • Who is doing those things?
  • When are they doing them?

After the staff meeting and discussion, have a staff member (preferably the conference chair or event coordinator if available) communicate with the alleged harasser. Make sure to inform them of what has been reported about them.

Allow the alleged harasser to give their side of the story to the staff. After this point, if report stands, let the alleged harasser know what actions will be taken against them.

Some things for the staff to consider when dealing with Code of Conduct offenders:

  • Warning the harasser to cease their behavior and that any further reports will result in sanctions
  • Requiring that the harasser avoid any interaction with, and physical proximity to, their victim for the remainder of the event
  • Ending a talk that violates the policy early
  • Not publishing the video or slides of a talk that violated the policy
  • Not allowing a speaker who violated the policy to give (further) talks at the event now or in the future
  • Immediately ending any event volunteer responsibilities and privileges the harasser holds
  • Requiring that the harasser not volunteer for future events your organization runs (either indefinitely or for a certain time period)
  • Requiring that the harasser refund any travel grants and similar they received (this would need to be a condition of the grant at the time of being awarded)
  • Requiring that the harasser immediately leave the event and not return
  • Banning the harasser from future events (either indefinitely or for a certain time period)
  • Removing a harasser from membership of relevant organizations
  • Publishing an account of the harassment and calling for the resignation of the harasser from their responsibilities (usually pursued by people without formal authority: may be called for if the harasser is the event leader, or refuses to stand aside from the conflict of interest, or similar, typically event staff have sufficient governing rights over their space that this isn’t as useful)

Give accused attendees a place to appeal to if there is one, but in the meantime the report stands. Do not encourage an apology from the harasser.

It is very important how we deal with the incident publicly. Our policy is to make sure that everyone aware of the initial incident is also made aware that it is not according to policy and that official action has been taken—while still respecting the privacy of individual attendees. When speaking to individuals (those who are aware of the incident, but were not involved with the incident) about the incident it is a good idea to keep the details out.

Depending on the incident, the conference chair or his designate may decide to make one or more public announcements. If necessary, this will be done with a short announcement either during the plenary and/or through other channels. No one other than the conference chair or someone delegated authority from the conference chair should make any announcements.

If some attendees were angered by the incident, it is best to apologize to them that the incident occurred to begin with. If there are residual hard feelings, suggest to them to write an email to the conference chair or to the event coordinator. It will be dealt with accordingly.

If at all possible, reports should be made to Phil Telio +1(514)909-9709 or Pamela Perrotti +1(514)816-8124.