by Beth Hatter
Creating an event is not only about logistics and finding speakers, but about creating an environment where all feel welcome and encouraged to share their ideas. Studies have proven that diversity on a team leads to better outcomes, and having diverse and inclusive events leads to a better experience for everyone. But how do we create such an event culture – one where everyone feels not only welcome but included and celebrated for the diversity we bring?
One important step is to create and promote your event code of conduct. While it may seem like an unnecessary administrative task – after all, shouldn’t everyone know how to behave as adults in a professional environment – creating the code of conduct helps set expectations about the culture of the event as well as describing what will happen if something does occur. Having a well thought out code of conduct can help ensure a positive experience for everyone.
A code of conduct acts like a “team norm” for your event. Just as teams build their culture and decide how they will interact, communicate, and conduct themselves by agreeing to their team norms, the code of conduct establishes expectations for attendees and makes it clear that unwelcoming behavior is not tolerated.
Your event’s code of conduct should cover everyone involved in and connected to the event – not just attendees but also guests, staff, other members of the organization, volunteers, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors. The code of conduct creates a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. Rather than focusing only on unwanted behavior, it should describe what sort of values and environment we want to establish and support for the event. Examples of things your code of conduct might include are:
- Be professional
- Treat each other with dignity and respect
- Listen actively
- Be timely in attendance to avoid disrupting speakers
- Don’t invalidate others
- Celebrate divergent views
Your code of conduct should be highlighted at several points before and during the event. It should be included on the event pages and marketing so that people understand the culture and expectations of the event. It should also be a part of the registration or ticket procurement, so that everyone agrees to uphold the code up front. During the event, the code should be prominently posted as well as discussed/read to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of expectations.
In a future blog, we will share some situations and how the code of conduct enforcement helped clarify what the organization did as a response. We cannot address every possible scenario, but we hope that by showing the importance of establishing event culture and enforcing a code of conduct leads to more diverse and inclusive events.