Code of Conduct for RRF Conferences
The Raptor Research Foundation hosts an annual conference to exchange and disseminate scientific information on birds of prey including ecology, behavior, evolution and conservation. Because effective exchange of ideas can only be accomplished in a friendly and open environment, it is fundamental to ensure that conference attendees treat each other with courtesy and respect in all interactions, including face-to-face, written, or electronic. For this reason, RRF places special care and emphasis on provisioning and ensuring a safe, hospitable and productive environment for everyone attending its annual meeting, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, religion, disability, physical appearance, gender, age, or sexual orientation. We take this aspect of our mission very seriously and expect all conference attendees to behave courteously, respectfully, and professionally to each other, to RRF employees and representatives, to conference volunteers, exhibitors and local meeting venue staff.
RRF expects conference attendees to be able to engage in open discussions free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. We strongly believe that a community where people feel uncomfortable, threatened, or under discriminatory scrutiny is neither healthy nor productive. Accordingly, RRF strictly prohibits any degree of intimidating, threatening, or harassing conduct during our conferences, as well as in any other written or personal communication involving any activity of the Foundation. This policy applies to speakers, staff, volunteers, exhibitors, and attendees. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned, expelled from the conference, or expelled from RRF at the discretion of the RRF Board of Directors.
Reporting an Incident
Any attendee who believes that he or she has been subjected to harassment, notices that someone else is being harassed, or has any other concerns about an individual’s behavior should contact any member of the RRF Board. He or she will be not required or expected to discuss the concern with the alleged offender. All complaints will be treated extremely seriously and investigated during the conference itself, unless reported after its completion. Confidentiality will be honored to the extent permitted as long as the rights of others are not compromised. Maximum sensitivity to the discomfort of the harassed participant will be favored by assigning the lead of the complaint-management, whenever feasible, to a Board member as capable as possible to comprehend the sensitivity of the issue at stake, (e.g. cases of sexual harassment will be led by a Director of the same gender; cases of discrimination against a minority by a minority, foreign Director, or Director with experience working abroad etc.).
Individuals engaging in behavior prohibited by this policy as well as those making false allegations of harassment will be subject to disciplinary action. RRF leadership may take any action they deem appropriate, ranging from a verbal warning to ejection from the meeting or activity in question without refund of registration fees, to expulsion from the Foundation in case of membership, and the reporting of their behavior to their employer. Repeat offenders may be subject to further disciplinary action, such as being banned from participating in future meetings. Note that RRF has the right in its Bylaws to terminate the membership of any member. Disciplinary action will apply to all offenders participating in the conference, from non-RRF members to Board Directors.
Retaliation Is Prohibited
RRF will not tolerate any form of retaliation or attempt at dissuasion against individuals who file a complaint or assist in the investigation, either by the original offender, or by any individual on his/her behalf, or by the Board member who receives the initial complaint. Retaliation is a serious violation of this policy and, like harassment or discrimination itself, will be subject to disciplinary action.
Questions & Appeal
Any questions regarding this policy should be directed to the RRF Board or the local conference Committee, which will re-direct it to the Board of Directors. In the event that an individual involved in any reported incident is dissatisfied with the disciplinary action, he or she may appeal to the RRF Board, which will privately discuss the issue and vote for a decision.
1. Whenever possible, the situation will be dealt with informally and in real time by approaching the offender and communicating a warning to the offender to immediately cease the behavior, without revealing the identity of the complainant and after approval about this procedure by the complainant.
2. Should this not be enough, and previous approval by the complainant, the RRF Board will name one or two impartial investigators, considered to be sensitive to the delicacy of the task and capable to assess it professionally.
3. Any named investigator who believes they have a conflict of interest should not serve as an investigator.
4. The investigator(s) will request an official written letter of complaint from the complainant (documenting the nature of the harassment and/or discrimination, with detailed information including times, places, nature of incident(s), and comments made). Supporting documentation (emails, notes, posts, etc.) and statements from witnesses should be submitted with the letter.
5. In most cases, the complainant will be interviewed first and the written complaint reviewed. If the complainant has not already filed a formal complaint, he or she should be asked to do so.
6. The details of the complaint should be explained to the alleged offender by the investigator.
7. The alleged offender should be given a reasonable chance to respond to the evidence of the complainant and to bring his or her own evidence.
8. If the facts are in dispute, further investigatory steps may include interviewing those named as witnesses.
9. If, for any reason, the investigator(s) is in doubt about whether or how to continue, he or she will seek appropriate counsel (from the RRF Board, legal—if approved by the RRF Board, etc).
10. When the investigation is complete, the investigator(s) will report the findings to the RRF Board. The Board will determine how to proceed and if a report should be submitted to the offender’s employer.