MassBio’s Commitment to Preventing Harassment at Events

Aug 15, 2018

By Bob Coughlin & Edie Stringfellow

In May, we released our conference diversity policy –stating that MassBio will ensure a diverse range of speakers, panelists, and attendees at every event we host. And even though the “no manels” part of the policy gained the most attention, it’s not just gender equity we care about, it’s guaranteeing that the best and brightest are part of our events no matter their background or identity. Since we released the policy our events have been more vibrant because of the increased diversity of thought, experiences and opinions. A win-win.

Yet, it’s clear that more must be done to ensure everyone feels welcome to participate and attend any event in the life sciences industry. Diversity is not possible at events unless they are inclusive. And often the first thing preventing an inclusive environment is harassment – sometimes which is overt, but more often is insidious.

Today, we’re proud to release MassBio’s Events Anti-Harassment policy. This applies to all MassBio events as well as any events that are hosted at our office. Similar to our conference diversity policy, we are encouraging all organizations we partner with to adopt the policy as their own.

This policy is not just about sexual harassment. It’s about the myriad forms it can take that impact a person’s ability to feel welcome and included. As the policy states:

Harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Discrimination or unfair treatment based on gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race, ethnicity, age or religion
  • Unwelcome sexual attention or advances; unwelcomed discussion of sexual orientation / gender identity
  • Inappropriate physical contact
  • Comments that are lewd, lascivious, demeaning or derogatory
  • Sexual images; or sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes designed to create a sexualized environment
  • Deliberate intimidation, stalking, or following
  • Harassing photography or recording
  • Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behavior
  • Verbal comments that reinforce social structures of domination

Participants violating any of these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the event. Further, anyone who feels unsafe or unwelcome can report directly to any member of the MassBio staff on-site.

MassBio is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience at all of our events. We aim to provide an engaging environment in which everyone may learn, network and enjoy the company of colleagues in a professional atmosphere.

Together with our conference diversity policy, we believe the new Anti-Harassment policy will make our events more inclusive, more diverse, and plain old better for everyone involved. Thank you in advance to anyone who plans on adopting this policy as their own.

          – Edie and Bob

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