Staff Procedure for Incident Handling

Staff Procedure for incident handling

This procedure has been adopted from the Ada Initiative’s guide titled “Conference anti-harassment/Responding to Reports”.

Be sure to have a good understanding of our Code of Conduct policy, which can be found here.

Also have a good understanding of what is expected from a participant who wants to report a harassment incident. These guidelines can be found at the bottom of this page. Try to get as much of the incident in written form by the reporter. If you cannot, transcribe it yourself as it was told to you. The important information to gather include the following:

  • Identifying information of the participant(s) doing the harassing
  • The behavior that was in violation
  • The approximate time of the behavior (if different than the time the report is being made)
  • The circumstances surrounding the incident
  • Other people involved in the incident

Prepare an initial response to the incident. This initial response is very important and will set the tone for Agile Alliance conferences. Depending on the severity/details of the incident, please follow these guidelines:

  • If there is any general threat to attendees or the safety of anyone including conference staff is in doubt, summon security or police.
  • Offer the victim a private place to sit
  • Ask “is there a friend or trusted person who you would like to be with you?” (if so, arrange for someone to locate and bring this person)
  • Ask them “how can I help?”
  • Provide them with your list of emergency contacts if they need help later
  • If everyone is presently physically safe, involve law enforcement or security only at a victim’s request unless required by law

Initial response guidelines include:

Do not overtly invite them to withdraw the complaint or mention that withdrawal is OK. This suggests that:

  • you want them to do so, and is, therefore, coercive. “If you’re OK with it [pursuing the complaint]” suggests that you are by default pursuing it and is not coercive.
  • Do not ask for their advice on how to deal with the complaint. This is a staff responsibility.
  • Do not offer them input into penalties. This is the responsibility of the Managing Director or Board Chair.

Once something is reported to a staff member, immediately meet with the Managing Director or Board Chair. The main objective is to find out the following:

  • What happened?
  • What are we doing about it?
  • Who is doing those things?
  • When are they doing them?

After the staff meeting and discussion, either the Managing Director or Board Chair will communicate with the alleged harasser. The staff should not communicate with the alleged harasser.

When speaking to individuals (those who are aware of the incident, but were not involved with the incident) about the incident it is a good idea to keep the details out.

If some attendees were angered by the incident, it is best to apologize to them that the incident occurred to begin with. If there are residual hard feelings, suggest to them to write an email to the Managing Director. It will be dealt with accordingly.

Depending on the incident, the Managing Director or Board Chair of the Agile Alliance may decide to make one or more public announcements. If necessary, this will be done with a short announcement either during the plenary and/or through other channels. No one other than the Managing Director or Board Chair of the Agile Alliance or someone with delegated authority from the Managing Director or Board Chair should make any announcements.

Managing Director or Board Chair Responsibilities

The Managing Director or Board Chair will inform the alleged harasser that a complaint has been made against them and provide the alleged harasser an opportunity to discuss the incident.  Thereafter, if the Managing Director or Board Chair believes the complaint is justifiable, he or she will let the alleged harasser know what actions will be taken, including any or all of the following:

  • Warning the harasser to cease their behavior and that any further reports will result in sanctions
  • Requiring that the harasser avoid any interaction with, and physical proximity to, their victim for the remainder of the event
  • Ending a talk early that violates the policy
  • Not publishing the video or slides of a talk that violated the policy
  • Not allowing a speaker who violated the policy to give (further) talks at the event now or in the future
  • Immediately ending the event
  • Immediately end the volunteer responsibilities and privileges the harasser holds
  • Banning the harasser as a volunteer at future Agile Alliance events (either indefinitely or for a certain time period)
  • Requiring the refund of any travel grants and similar concessions from the harasser (this would need to be a condition of the grant at the time of being awarded)
  • Requiring the harasser to immediately leave the event and not return
  • Banning the harasser as an attendee from future events of the Agile Alliance (either indefinitely or for a certain time period)
  • Removing a harasser from membership of the Agile Alliance
  • Contact hotel security or local law enforcement


Give accused attendees a place to appeal to if there is one, but in the meantime the report stands. Keep in mind that it is not a good idea to encourage an apology from the harasser.