Code of Conduct Task Force

Description:

In order to be effective in its work, and to support its commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, the Orbis Cascade Alliance must ensure that all Alliance community members are free from discrimination, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm when they engage in Alliance spaces, communities, and activities. 

To support this goal, and to establish and maintain a productive and collaborative environment for all within our community, the Alliance Board wishes to set clear expectations that will describe and guide the way that Alliance members (Board, Council, member staff, Alliance central staff) and external partners or guests work together within our consortial environment. 

To accomplish this, the Board is establishing the Alliance Code of Conduct Task Force with the charge of developing a Code of Conduct–as well as accompanying procedures and reporting mechanisms to ensure accountability–to govern behavior and address instances of harassment or other harm within the consortium. It is expected that the Code of Conduct will cover behavior in all Alliance-sponsored groups, activities, and communication channels. As such, the development of the Code of Conduct and related procedures will require broad-based input from, and communication with, the entire Alliance community.

The Board’s goal is to begin implementation of the new Alliance Code of Conduct in January 2022.

Goals:

  • Develop an Alliance Code of Conduct that is consistent with best practices, reflects consideration for intersections with member institution policies,  incorporates the input of a broad base of Alliance stakeholders, and does not create liability for the Alliance
  • Develop accompanying processes and systems for addressing violations that are simple to understand and based on restorative principles1
  • Through the Code of Conduct and related processes and systems, create a commitment to supporting Alliance community members who are negatively impacted by the words or actions of others within the community, and a commitment to holding one another accountable for behaviors that cause harm to members of the community

Membership:

In order to ensure that the task force is inclusive of all stakeholder groups within the Alliance who will be held accountable to the standards of behavior in the Alliance Code of Conduct, the Code of Conduct Task Force is composed of:

  • One Alliance Board member
  • One Alliance Council member
  • Two Alliance central staff members
  • One representative from the Member Leadership Group
  • One representative from the Equity Exploratory Committee
  • Four member staff from member institutions

Members will be appointed by the Orbis Cascade Alliance Board from a slate of interested volunteers; from the appointed members, the Board will also appoint a chair and vice chair. Task force members will be selected to ensure representation from different types of libraries and different types of library work. All members will serve a one-year term. The task force will meet synchronously at least once per month; additional conference calls and asynchronous work will be conducted as needed.

It is expected that the committee will begin its work in July 2021. The Board Chair will constitute the committee after consultation with the Board and Executive Director. 

Deliverables:

The Task Force will provide:

  1. A Code of Conduct policy for Alliance Board approval
  2. A set of related processes and systems to address violations of the Code of Conduct for Board approval; this will include:
    1. Recommendations for the composition, reporting structure, confidentiality practices, and conflict of interest standards of a standing committee that will be responsible for responding to and addressing reports of Code of Conduct violations
  3. Recommendations for an implementation timeline for the Code of Conduct and related processes and systems, to begin no later than January 2022
  4. Recommendations for a sustainable approach to incorporating the expectations in the Code of Conduct into regular training and onboarding within the Alliance

General Expectations & Assumptions:

  • The Code of Conduct and related support systems and processes will cover all Alliance-sponsored groups, activities, and communication channels; as such, its development requires broad-based input and communication (Alliance central staff, Board, Council, member library staff)
  • The Code of Conduct will clearly define the scope of behaviors and harm intended to be addressed through the code and its related processes and systems for accountability
  • The Code of Conduct and related support systems and processes will equip the Alliance to respond to scenarios such as the following (these are not all-inclusive, but are intended to guide the task force as illustrative examples):
    • Member staff reports harm caused by conduct of another member institution staff member within the context of Alliance team or group work
    • An Alliance central staff member reports harm caused by  conduct of member staff, a Council member, or a Board member
    • A member of the Alliance community reports harm caused by conduct of an Alliance vendo, external partner, or other guest of the Alliance
    • Member  staff reports harm caused by conduct of an Alliance central staff member
    • A Council member reports harm caused by conduct of another Council member or Board member
    • A communication sent on an Alliance-managed email list is reported as causing harm
  • The Code of Conduct will address any possible or necessary intersections with member institution policies and related conduct guidelines
  • The Code of Conduct and related processes and systems should be developed using a restorative justice lens
  • Development of the Code of Conduct should incorporate the following activities, at minimum:
    • An environmental scan to identify relevant examples of codes of conduct in groups similar or related to the Alliance
      • The task force will be provided with an initial set of examples and may pursue additional examples as deemed necessary
    • Facilitation of feedback forums/mechanisms to encourage Alliance-wide engagement with (a) the general goal of creating a safe and inclusive environment in shared Alliance spaces and (b) the draft Code of Conduct documents; feedback gathered should be broadly inclusive of all Alliance stakeholders across member libraries and central staff
  • Final approval of a Code of Conduct and related processes and systems will be dependent on formative and summative legal review
  • The Alliance Board will hold authority for final approval of the Code of Conduct and related processes and systems

Timeline/Milestones:

TimingActivity
March 2021Council approves charge for Code of Conduct Task Force
March-May 2021Open call for membership and appointment of task force by Board
July-September 2021Task Force develops draft policy and processes
October 2021Task Force shares preliminary drafts with Board and legal counsel for initial feedback
October-December 2021Task Force shares drafts with Alliance community (minimum of two drafts shared)
December 2021-January 2022Task Force brings final policy and procedures to Board and Council for approval; this includes implementation timeline
February 2022Standing committee formed (based on final proposal recommendations) to be responsible for rolling out the Code of Conduct to the Alliance community, embedding it in the work of the Alliance, and addressing violations of the code
March 2022Standing committee offers community-wide forums to discuss final code, accompanying procedures, and reporting mechanisms

1Restorative justice centers around three core questions, “Who has been harmed in this situation? What are their needs? Whose obligations are they?” and seeks to engage the stakeholders in the situation in making things right and addressing the underlying causes. (Adapted from Howard Zehr; also see his Little Book of Restorative Justice as a primer).