DIS 2023 Code of Conduct

Policy Against Harassment at ACM Activities

The open exchange of ideas is central to the Association for Computing Machinery’s mission. This requires an environment that embraces diversity and provides a safe, welcoming environment for all.

This policy applies to all ACM activities, including:

  • Conferences, symposia, workshops, and events sponsored, co-sponsored, or in cooperation with ACM any ACM SIG or Chapter or any other ACM subunit;
  • ACM member meetings;
  • Exchanges among committees or other bodies associated with ACM activities publications and communications sent through communication channels associated with ACM, including social media.

Expected Behaviour

We expect all participants in ACM activities to abide by this policy in all venues, including ancillary events and unofficial social gatherings:

  • Exercise consideration and respect in your speech and actions;
  • Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behaviour and speech;
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants;
  • Alert community leaders if you notice a dangerous situation, someone in distress, or violations of this policy, even if they seem inconsequential.

Unacceptable Behaviour

Unacceptable at any ACM activity is:

  • Abuse: Any action directed at an individual that (a) interferes substantially with that person’s participation; or (b) causes that person to fear for their safety. This includes threats, intimidation, bullying, stalking, or other types of abuse.
  • Discriminatory Harassment: Any conduct that discriminates or denigrates an individual based on race, ethnicity, religion, citizenship, nationality, age, sexual or gender identity, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law in the location where the ACM activity takes place.
  • Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal/physical conduct of a sexual nature. Examples include (but are not limited to):
    • Unwelcome advances or propositions, particularly when one individual has authority over the other;
    • Inappropriate touching of an individual’s body;
    • Degrading or humiliating comments about an individual’s appearance;
    • Using an activity-related communication channel to display or distribute sexually explicit images or messages;

Unacceptable behaviours include, but are not limited to:

  • Intimidating, harassing, abusive discriminatory, derogatory, or demeaning speech or actions by any participant in ACM activities, at all related events and in one-on-one communications carried out in the context of ACM activities;
  • Offensive, degrading, humiliating, harmful, or prejudicial verbal or written comments or visual images related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability, age, appearance, or other personal characteristics;
  • Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal/physical conduct of a sexual nature;
  • Inappropriate or gratuitous use of nudity, sexual images, or stereotyped images including using an activity-related channel to display or distribute sexually explicit or otherwise offensive or discriminatory images or messages;
  • Deliberate intimidation, stalking, or following;
  • Harassing photography or recording;
  • Sustained disruption of talks or other events;
  • Unwelcome and uninvited attention or contact;
  • Physical assault (including unwelcome touch or groping);
  • Real or implied threat of physical harm;
  • Real or implied threat of professional or financial damage or harm.

Harassment can occur when there is no deliberate intention to offend. Be careful with the words that you choose. Harassment committed in a joking manner or disguised as a compliment still constitutes unacceptable behaviour. Remember that sexist, racist, and other exclusionary jokes can offend those around you.

Consequences of Unacceptable Behaviour

If a participant in an ACM activity engages in prohibited behaviour, ACM reserves the right to take any action ACM deems appropriate. ACM reserves the right to:

  • Remove an individual from any ACM activity without warning or refund;
  • Prohibit an individual from participating in future ACM activities;
  • Exclude an individual from ACM leadership positions;
  • Exclude any individual from deriving other benefits from ACM activities;
  • Suspend or terminate membership in ACM.

Such sanctions may be applied regardless of whether or not the offender is a member of ACM.

Appropriate sanctions also will be taken toward any individual who knowingly makes a false allegation of harassment.

How to Report Unacceptable Behaviour

Any individual who experiences harassment (as described above) at any ACM activity should follow the Procedures for Reporting Unacceptable Behaviour outlined on this web page.

This policy applies only to unacceptable behaviour at ACM activities. Complaints regarding other issues should be addressed as described under the applicable ACM policy. For example, complaints about papers and publications should be made under either ACM’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct or its Plagiarism Policy.

Addressing Grievances

If you feel you have been falsely or unfairly accused of violating this Policy Against Harassment at ACM Activities you should notify advocate@acm.org with a concise description of your grievance. Your grievance will be thoroughly investigated. Your grievance will be handled in accordance with our existing procedures.

Warnings and Disclaimers

This Policy Against Harassment at ACM Activities is not intended to limit open discussion of the merits of particular work or issues presented at ACM events. It applies only to behaviour at ACM events and activities.

ACM assumes no liability or responsibility for the actions of any member or other activity participant.

ACM is not responsible for protecting the safety of members or participants in ACM activities. Any individual who feels their safety is at risk due to harassment or other reasons is encouraged to take appropriate steps to ensure personal safety.

This Policy supersedes any policy or guidelines concerning harassment issued by ACM, one of its Special Interest Groups, or any other ACM sub-unit.

There may be situations (such as those involving Title IX issues in the United States and venue- or employer-specific policies) where an on-site person who is informed of harassment will be under an obligation to file a report with an individual or organization outside of ACM.

Reporting Unacceptable Behaviour at ACM Activities

The first priority should always be personal safety. An individual who experiences harassment should take immediate action if needed to remain safe.

The procedures here describe how to report unacceptable behaviour at ACM activities. The Policy Against Harassment at ACM Activities describes actions that constitute harassment.

What Should I Do If I Experience or Witness Unacceptable Behaviour?

In the event of unacceptable behaviour, you may wish to inform a person in authority. Those in authority to act in these cases include the general chairs (Nikolas Martelaro and Daragh Byrne – chairs@dis2023.acm.org), the inclusion chairs (Cynthia Bennett and Robin Brewer – inclusion@dis2023.acm.org), SIGCHI Cares representatives such as Cayley MacArthur (cayley.macarthur@uwaterloo.ca) who have been designated to handle such complaints at this activity. These individuals can provide information about the process for handling complaints or handling immediate onsite needs. Please do not approach student volunteers (SVs) or student volunteer leads; please escalate to the afore-mentioned designees.

Note that there may be cases (such as those involving Title IX issues in the United States and venue- or employer-specific policies) where an on-site person who is informed of harassment will be required to file a complaint.

Any investigation or further action requires that a written communication be made to ACM. Report the incident using the form for Reporting Violations of the ACM Policy Against Harassment. Prompt reporting is critical so that ACM can take action to stop the conduct before it is repeated. All reports will be followed up promptly, with further investigation conducted where needed to confirm facts or resolve disputed facts. In conducting its investigations, ACM will strive to keep the identity of the individual making the report as confidential as possible beyond the investigation.

ACM prohibits any threats or acts of retaliation against individuals who report unacceptable behaviour or provide information in connection with a report by another individual. ACM considers a threat or act of retaliation to be as serious an offense as harassment itself and will handle reports of retaliation accordingly.

What Should I Do as a Person in Authority?

As a person in authority at an ACM event, you need to understand how to handle possible incidents. Those in authority include the event chair, a SIG leader, an onsite ACM staff member, and other event organizers who have been designated to handle such complaints at this activity.

Your primary role as a person in authority is to (a) lend a sympathetic ear and (b) explain procedures for reporting unacceptable behaviour if a person wishes to pursue further action. In general, you should not attempt to mediate or resolve complaints informally.

If the situation appears to be an emergency (e.g., requiring medical assistance or if there has been an overt threat of violence), you should use judgment and common sense. Never presume, however, that an individual would welcome your involvement. Instead, tell the person to take any step they feel is needed to ensure personal safety.

If the immediate emergency extends to more than one individual, event organizers may need to take stronger actions, such as addressing the event attendees as a whole, barring further event attendance and participation by specific attendees, or imposing requirements on an attendee’s further participation. Such decisions should be kept as minimally intrusive as possible, and must be made with the awareness that an allegation is not the same as a determination of guilt. Any post-event investigations, sanctions, or other actions should be handled using the form for Reporting Violations of the ACM Policy Against Harassment.

If an event uses contractors, the event organizers should make sure the contractors are told to report any incident to a person in authority rather than dealing with it themselves.

What Enforcement Procedures Will be Followed?

When receiving a report of unacceptable behaviour, ACM’s President, CEO, or COO will review and direct appropriate follow-up. In consultation with the Chair of ACM’s Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE), the executive will also make a recommendation to COPE regarding resolution. COPE will make a final, binding decision regarding whether ACM’s policy has been violated and the consequences of any such violation.

The Committee may take actions including, but not limited to, suspension or termination of membership in ACM, exclusion from ACM leadership positions, exclusion from participating in future ACM events, and/or exclusion from deriving other benefits from ACM activities. Such actions may be applied regardless of whether or not the offender is a member of ACM.

The same actions may be taken toward any individual who engages in retaliation or who knowingly makes a false allegation of harassment.