Saturday, January 19, 2013

What does a good harassment policy look like?

From the archives -

Turns out Skepticon wrote an anti-harassment policy a long while ago:

How did it turn out? Well it got a rave review on the /r/GodlessWomen subreddit:

Yet the top rated comment:
hauntedchippy 6 points ago

This is a statement condemning sexual harassment, not a policy to mitigate it. The only powers it explicitly mentions are ones that conference organisers have had all along, namely the ability to eject people they don't like without refund.

What I would like to see is appropriate training being given to the members of staff who have to deal with any complaints. Are they trained to know what qualifies sexual harassment or are they just going to use their own intuition? i.e. are we going to have a case where, say, an attendee is subject to sexually provocative remarks from another but the staff rejects this as being harassment with an excuse like "it was clearly meant as a joke and I'm not going to eject this person because you don't have a sense of humour darling". Are they trained on how to counsel someone who has been attacked? Are they trained to pro-actively spot harassing behaviour? What evidence do they need to eject someone? Just someone's word or do they have to witness it themselves? There's no mention of any process to establish this. 
As it is, it simply says they can eject anyone they don't like, which is nothing new. The rest is just words to sooth concerns without actually addressing them.

And then it immediately leads to argument from the OP:
tkmlac[S] 0 points ago

If they are employees, they probably have sexual harassment training already. Why would that need to be in the convention policy? You want their entire employee handbook online? In my state, sexual harassment training is mandatory. What you're asking for as far as making sure the staff are educated is outside the scope of this policy. The only thing Skepticon could do is add a sentence that says, "Our staff have been through a standard sexual harassment training."

They are not counselors. It's illegal and unethical to offer a service like counseling if you don't have a degree. Proactively spotting harassment? Often, what is harassment for one person is harmless to another. Sometimes it's not obvious, which is why it is stressed that a person feeling harassed find a staff right away. This is no more and no less than you find in a workplace environment.
So what we have now:

A policy that essentially restates that the organizers can remove whomever they want without having to explain themselves.

What some people seem to want:

Proactive arbiters of what is right and wrong, trained in what is appropriate in social situations, able to provide therapy for those that have been harassed. All their actions would be buttressed by formal guidelines about how evidence would be gathered, how decisions for removal would be made (maybe a jury of their peers?)

1 comment:

  1. The Skepticon harassment policy is a cracker.
    Part of it reads:
    "Additionally, exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment."

    So, who is in charge of deciding what items of clothing are considered sexualized? Surely that's subjective right? lol.
    Last i checked, a person's clothing is a free form of expression. :)