Our Code of Conduct And Why It’s Important For Diversity And Inclusion
Below is an article originally written by Hailley Griffis at PowerToFly Partner Buffer, and published on March 28, 2018. Go to Buffer's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
We aspire to live by our values at Buffer.
We also strive daily to turn our values into behaviors that positively impact how we treat each other, how we interact with others, and how we see the world.
Even still, we feel that having values isn't enough.
Especially if we want to create the inclusive organization that we're striving to become.
While our values do influence our behaviors, we also felt compelled to create a code of conduct to serve as an official commitment to teammates and new or potential hires about the behaviors we expect (and the behaviors we discourage) at Buffer.
We're excited to share this document publicly for the first time! Read below to learn more about why a code of conduct was so important for us (especially for diversity and inclusion), and see our code of conduct in full. We hope this can be useful for you to read, take pieces of, or use as a reference, however you see fit!
Why A Code of Conduct Makes a Difference for Diversity and Inclusion
Ensuring that everyone at Buffer feels included is a big priority for us. That's why creating a framework for expected behaviors is something we feel is important for our continued work on inclusion.
There's a great quote from Andrea Barrica on Medium that sums up how a code of conduct affects diversity.
As Andrea's quote mentions, creating a code of conduct goes beyond hiring and into retention. According to Jeanine Prime, leader of the Catalyst Research Center for Advancing Leader Effectiveness, "creating a workplace where employees feel included is directly connected to worker retention and growth."
Further studies have shown that nearly one-third of workers report having felt bullied at work and roughly 20% ended up leaving their job because of it.
We love the team we've built at Buffer and would never want anyone to feel excluded or bullied, which is why we're placing so much importance on this code of conduct. This is a living document that we keep so that everyone on the team has access to it, and we're excited to be sharing it with the world today to spread the word about how much impact these codes have.
Buffer's Code of Conduct
Feel free to grab any part of this if you're looking for inspiration while creating your own code of conduct!
Buffer is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, age, disability (physical or mental), sexual orientation, gender identity, parental status, marital status, and political affiliation as well as gender expression, mental illness, socioeconomic status or background, neuro(a)typicality, or physical appearance. We're united by Buffer's values, and we celebrate our unique differences.
We put forth this code of conduct not because we anticipate bad behavior, but because we believe in the already exceptional level of respect among the team. We believe that articulating our values and accountabilities to one another reinforces that respect and provides us with clear avenues to correct our culture should it ever stray. We commit to enforce and evolve this code as our team grows.
Like our Buffer values, the contents of this code of conduct are concepts we expect teammates to work to apply to their daily lives in and outside of Buffer. Specifically, the code of conduct applies to teammate interactions in various areas of our shared professional lives, including all events hosted by Buffer, shared online spaces (Slack, Discourse, Trello, email, etc.) , social media, pull request feedback, and conferences or other events where we represent Buffer.
Every member of the Buffer team is expected to work smart, be considerate of their teammates across the team, and contribute to a collaborative, positive, and healthy environment in which we can all succeed. Specifically:
- Be supportive of your colleagues, both proactively and responsively. Offer to help if you see someone struggling or otherwise in need of assistance (taking care not to be patronizing or disrespectful). If someone approaches you looking for help, be generous with your time; if you're under a deadline, let them know when you will be able to help or direct them to someone else who may be of assistance.
- Be inclusive: Go out of your way and across cultures to include people in team jokes or memes; we want to build an environment free of cliques. Avoid slang or idioms that might not translate across cultures, or be deliberate in explaining them to share our diverse cultures and languages. Speak plainly and avoid acronyms and jargon that not everyone may have an understanding of. Be an ally to teammates when you see a need.
- Be collaborative. Involve your teammates in brainstorms, sketching sessions, code reviews, planning documents, and the like. It's part of our values to share early and ask for feedback often. Don't succumb to either impostor syndrome (believing that you don't deserve to be here) or the Dunning-Kruger Effect (believing you can do no wrong). Recognize that in addition to asking for feedback, you are similarly obligated to give it.
- Be generous in both giving and accepting feedback. Feedback is a natural and important part of our culture. Good feedback is kind, respectful, clear, and constructive, and focused on goals and values rather than personal preferences. You are expected to give and receive feedback with gratitude and a growth mindset.
- Be respectful toward all time zones. Embrace habits that are inclusive and productive for team members wherever they are: make liberal use of asynchronous communication tools, document syncs and decisions thoroughly, and pay attention to timezones when scheduling events.
- Be kind. Be polite and friendly in all forms of communication – especially remote communication, where opportunities for misunderstanding are greater. Avoid sarcasm. Tone is hard to decipher online; make liberal use of emoji, GIFs and Bitmoji to aid in communication. Use video hangouts when it makes sense; face-to-face discussion benefits from all kinds of social cues that may go missing in other forms of communication.
The Buffer team is committed to providing a welcoming and safe environment for all. Discrimination and harassment are expressly prohibited. Furthermore, any behavior or language that is unwelcoming—whether or not it rises to the level of harassment—is also strongly discouraged.
Additionally, there are a host of behaviors and language common on tech teams which are worth noting as specifically unwelcome:
- No surprise if a teammate isn't familiar with something: At Buffer, we believe in the value of a beginner's mind. It's always acceptable to say "I don't know" or "I don't understand." All questions are great questions! So please don't act surprised when people aren't familiar with a tool, person, place or process. This applies to both technical things ("What?! I can't believe you don't know what the stack is!") and non-technical things ("You don't know who DHH is?!").
- No well-actually's: A well-actually happens when someone says something that's almost – but not entirely – correct, and you say, "well, actually…" and give a minor correction. We strive to let others save face as part of our values, and most well-actually's aren't crucial to the overall conversation. If it's critical to add your correction, use language that leaves room for the idea that you might be wrong or missing some context, too.)
- No exclusionary language: Be careful in the words that you choose, even if it's as small as choosing "hey, everyone" over "hey, guys." Sexist, racist, ableist, and other exclusionary jokes are not appropriate and will not be tolerated under any circumstance. Any language that is unwelcoming—whether or not it rises to the level of harassment—is also strongly discouraged.
- No subtle -isms: Much exclusionary behavior takes the form of subtle -isms, or microaggressions – small things that make others feel unwelcome. For example, saying "It's so easy my grandmother could do it" is a subtle -ism with tones of both sexism and ageism. Regardless of intent, these comments can have a significant demeaning impact on teammates. If you see a subtle -ism, you can point it out to the relevant person, either publicly or privately, or you can ask a lead or People Team member to say something. (If you are a third party, and you don't see what could be biased about the comment that was made, feel free to talk to the People Team.)
Please don't say, "Comment X wasn't sexist!" or "That's not what they meant. You're being too sensitive." Similarly, please don't pile on someone who made a mistake. It's not a big deal to mess up – just apologize and move on.
Reporting a problem
These guidelines are ambitious, and we're not always going to succeed in meeting them. When something goes wrong—whether it's a microaggression or an instance of harassment—there are a number of things you can do to make sure the situation is addressed.
1. Most recommended: Talk to a member of the People Team. People Team members take concerns about this stuff seriously. We are here for you to discuss the problem and we will figure out what steps to take next. You can make a report either personally to Courtney/Director of People and Jenny/Compliance Manager anonymously. We're keen to hear concerns about situations of any size and magnitude. In all cases, we will make every effort to stay in clear communication with anyone who reports a problem, maintaining confidentiality whenever possible.
2. Recommended: Talk to your lead. Your lead probably knows quite a lot about the dynamics of your team, which makes them a good person to look to for advice. They should also be able to talk directly to the colleague in question if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe doing so yourself. Finally, your lead will be able to help you figure out how to ensure that any conflict with a colleague doesn't interfere with your work.
3. Address it directly. For smaller incidents that might be settled with a brief conversation, you can choose to DM the person in question or set up a video chat to discuss how it affected you. Please use this approach only if you feel comfortable; you do not have to carry the weight of addressing these issues yourself. If you're interested in this option but unsure how to go about it, try discussing with the People Team first—they will have advice on how to make the conversation happen and can also join you in a conversation.
Taking care of each other
Sometimes, you'll be a witness to something that seems like it isn't aligned with our values. Err on the side of caring for your colleagues in situations like these. Even if an incident seems minor, reach out to the person impacted by it to check in. We'd also appreciate it if you would speak to a member of the People Team directly to voice your concerns. Depending on the circumstances, you may also want to speak directly to the person who has violated the code of conduct.
If you want to speak to a person impacted by an incident or to the person who has violated the code of conduct, but you're unsure of how to navigate these interactions, try reaching out to Courtney/Director of People or Jenny/Compliance Manager—these conversations are tricky, and we'd like to help you figure out how best to approach them.
Committing to self-improvement
None of us are perfect: all of us will from time to time fail to live up to our very high standards. What matters isn't having a perfect track record, but owning up to your mistakes and committing to a clear and persistent effort to improve.
If you are approached as having (consciously or otherwise) acted in a way that might make your teammates feel unwelcome, listen with an open mind and avoid becoming defensive. Remember that if someone offers you feedback, it likely took a great deal of courage for them to do so. The best way to respect that courage is to acknowledge your mistake, apologize, and move on — with a renewed commitment to do better.
That said, repeated or severe violations of this code can and will be addressed by the people and culture team, and can lead to disciplinary actions, including termination.
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
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