Another Thing About Organizing Conferences: Codes of Conduct

As I may have mentioned, a couple of times actually, I organize a couple of conferences. I, frankly, love conferences. It’s the people.

An old boss of mine used to do the quarterly All-Hands meeting by starting out with a really silly slide that said, “People are the Point”. This is more true when it comes to conferences. Without the people, the interaction, the meeting of minds, there is no purpose.

The question becomes, how to we get more people, more DIFFERENT people, to a conference. Not just different, but also new. People who may not have felt as comfortable or as welcome as, say, people who look just like me.

Enter the Code of Contact.

Now, I know, I’m not the poster child for who a Code of Conduct is for. What I am is an organizer who wants things to go smoothly. Not just for me, but for everyone at a conference I participate in. Whether that’s speakers, attendees, organizers, volunteers, the people serving the food or working the venue…in short (but not that short), everyone who touches the things I do.

This goes beyond diversity and bean counting. This is about inclusion. People feeling included makes them want to contribute, whether as a speaker or as an attendee. Making a safe place where people can hang out, be themselves, is something I’ve always appreciated.

The thing that gets me the most is it’s actually quite easy to create a code of conduct. There a literally bunches of resources to give you examples on how to write one or even borrow an existing one. It’s that easy.

Training yourself, your fellow organizers, and volunteers on how to run through actions and operations are simple. Just read through the document you’ve created. Make sure everyone is familiar with it.

As far as getting people to agree to it, make it part of the ticket purchasing process. If there’s someone who refuses to buy a ticket because they don’t like the CoC chances are you don’t want them at the event anyway.

There it is, plain and simple. Make people safe, make a better conference, make a better community.


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