The most common sanction in your disposal is “a verbal or written warning”. It’s never an easy conversation to have and it’s always good to be prepared for it.
Ideally, there should be two members of the Response Team giving a warning. We tend to do it in pairs of one woman, and one man.
If Response Team member has been a side of the incident, they should exclude themselves from having that conversation.
Make sure to give a warning in a private space, ideally an empty room.
Ask the person involved in the incident to meet and speak with you in a private space. An organizer's room or quiet room is a good place for that.
Before the talk
Have a discussion with people who are going to have this conversation, and make sure you're on the same side when it comes to:
- What are you going to say
- Who from your team is going to start and lead the conversation
- What is the decision you made regarding sanctions
Guidance on wording
Be calm, firm and in control.
Don’t go into too much detail, if possible, you shouldn’t make the harasser aware of who reported the incident. This is not always possible, but encouraged.
Describe that you’ve been made aware of details of the situation and tell them how this is in violation of the Code of Conduct.
Given the situation, inform them that the conference staff decided to take a following action, and describe clearly what’s expected of the person you’re speaking to. Never encourage them or expect apologies: this is up to them.
Pause to let them react, and then acknowledge their input. Do not get involved into discussion on who is right or not.
Make sure they know that they should don’t get involved into conversation with the victim or try to apologize, as this can be considered a further harassment.
You're going to approach the conversation with the idea of inform people about what they've done wrong, and with a hope to reach common consensus. Decision about potential sanctions has been made, and if common consensus is reached, it's all good.
However, it does sometimes happen that things do not go well, and the the harasser starts an argument, and doesn't accept your decision.
You shouldn't make another decision on spot, during the conversation. Acknowledge their behaviour, and inform them that you're going to get in touch with them to communicate your final decision about sanctions.
Do not get involved into the argument: repeat and make sure it's clear for them what is unacceptable behaviour, but to not try to get involved into a long discussion.
Now it's a time to re-evaluate the decision, so we recommend you to go back to the second step of "Response" chapter: Team meeting, and discuss with your team if you want to amend the decision due to lack of common understanding.
After the talk, it's important to meet back with your Response Team, tell them how the conversation well, and make sure you're all on the same page that the conversation had a successful outcome.
Then, it's time to wrap up the incident.