With the growing concern of sexual harassment and sexual assault, event planners are finding it more important than ever to have conversations around code of conduct at their events.
Many companies like the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) are implementing stronger guidelines to address unacceptable and harassing behaviors, and the consequences for such behavior at their events.
Below is a sample of what ISTE has included in their code of conduct:
- “ISTE does not tolerate harassment of conference attendees or participants in any form,” with specific mention of behaviors including “deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, and unwelcome physical contact or sexual attention,” as well as any offensive behavior or communication based upon an individual’s gender, age, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity.
- Statements that “sexual language and imagery are not appropriate for any conference venue” and prohibitions against creating a “sexualized environment.”
- Clear consequences for “inappropriate, harassing, abusive, or destructive behavior or language,” including warnings, expulsion from the conference without refunds, and bans from future ISTE events.”
In a recent Reuters article, CES, the technology industry’s annual conference, known for mostly men attendees and female models, has recently taken some heat for continuing to showcase a sexualized atmosphere in light of the #MeToo movement. Because of this, many women executives in the industry have refused to attend.
As the Reuters article states, as event planners, we must do better. It is our responsibility to help bring this to light.
We need to have conversations with the event staff and the security at the event with specific instructions on reporting incidents.
We need to train our staff on how to handle reports of harassment.
We need our attendees to know that we will not tolerate sexual harassment at our events and that immediate action will be taken.
We need to discuss adding language on the client’s event website that states we will not tolerate any sexual harassment and forms thereof and strict consequences will be implemented immediately.
Some of our clients don’t like name badges but having attendees where them at events is not only good for networking purposes but is also a good way to identify the harasser should any uncomfortable situation arise.
Of course we don’t want to throw an ugly light on events but we need to be prepared and let it be known that any concerns will be strictly addressed.
At a recent event, one of the speakers did an exercise where he wanted the attendees to partner up with someone, stare in their eyes, look them up and down, recite something motivating, high five each other and then slap each other on the a$$. Yes, slap each other on the a$$. Needless to say, in light of everything that is going on with the #MeToo movement, everyone strongly refused.
As the event producer, we need to have specific conversations with our clients around code of conduct at their events to ensure speakers are not incorporating exercises in their presentations that could present an uncomfortable situation for the attendees.
The event industry is known for being fun and social, and mixing alcohol with this can lead to undesired circumstances. Each situation is different and must be addressed accordingly. Having a code of conduct in place and a team that is prepared to handle any uncomfortable circumstance is the key towards the progress in the fight against sexual harassment and sexual assault.
What do you think? Do you believe event planners should have some responsibility in the sexual harassment code of conduct at their events?
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About Naif Productions
Naif Productions is a strategic event planning, design and production firm specializing in corporate, live coaching sales events, social, non-profit, and weddings. Based in New York City, we produce events worldwide from Fortune 500 clients and coaches to families and charities. Naif Productions specializes in helping clients attain their goals, realize return on investment, and achieve the most unique, creative experiences.
About Annette Naif
Since 1986 Annette Naif has been designing and producing custom events, helping clients create their unique style that translates into a memorable and profitable experience. Annette spent 17 years producing events in the motion picture industry where she helped coordinate numerous productions for film and episodic television programs. Since then Annette’s been running her own event production company, coaching other event planners, teaching an event operations and production course at NYU, and now is the CEO & Creative Director of Naif Productions.