Last month (in a very brave and public way), Maps Credit Union’s Rachel Pross (Chief Risk Officer) exposed some very disturbing behavior at the credit union movement’s largest annual conference. Some readers of the viral post responded with equally awful examples they had experienced or witnessed at credit union events. Others saw this as an opportunity to “shoot the messenger,” looking for reasons to discredit Pross and her examples. Credit union and bank trade press jumped on the story. CUNA CEO Jim Nussle eloquently responded.
Matthew Cropp, cooperative guru and credit union historian, urged action:
So, we decided to do just that. We created an anti-harassment policy that can be adopted at all credit union events. Our hope is to get enough feedback and support to improve and implement it for this year’s CU Water Cooler Team Summit in October.
Below, please find the first draft of CU Water Cooler’s Anti-Harassment Policy.
CU Water Cooler Anti-Harassment Policy
The purpose of this CU Water Cooler Anti-Harassment Policy is to ensure our community remains an inclusive environment in which people of all perspectives can openly discuss any issue impacting cooperative finance without fear of harassment. This means that regardless of a person’s gender, race, ethnicity, opinion, political persuasion, or workplace seniority, one should feel welcomed, loved, respected, and valued. We welcome disagreement. We reject disrespect.
With this goal in mind all participants in CU Water Cooler events, including any associated online and offline discussions, are subject to the following Anti-Harassment Policy:
1. BE RESPECTFUL
Without an environment of mutual respect the CU Water Cooler community has no chance of fostering the conversations and actions that the credit union movement needs. All participants agree to treat each other with the kindness and respect they deserve.
2. ASSUME BEST OF INTENTIONS
No one’s perfect. If someone’s actions or words bother you, seek to understand his/her perspective. If someone shares a view that competes with your own, assume that there is a legitimate reason why. Learn from it. Whether you agree with that stance or not, respect that each of our unique perspectives can bring us to different conclusions.
3. STAND UP FOR EACH OTHER
We are a community. We support each other, stand up for each other, do not tolerate harassment or inappropriate behavior from any participant. If there is someone acting inappropriately, let them know—say something and/or seek to defuse the situation. Please prioritize direct communication before a public “call-out.” CU Water Cooler representatives are available if help is needed. If the behavior rises to the level of illegal activity, contact the local authorities.
4. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF
This is admittedly the hardest step. Even when the people around you are willing and able to stand up for you, they can’t always detect harassment when they aren’t directly involved. The last line of defense is you. If you believe someone is harassing you or acting inappropriately, there are several options:
Calmly suggest that you and the CU Water Cooler will not tolerate harassment, and that you believe you are being harassed. If the behavior doesn’t stop immediately:
Try to escape from the aggressor, and seek help. If you are being physically prevented from doing so, scream/kick/bite/do anything you can to let the people around you know that someone is illegally restraining you against your will. A CU Water Cooler representative will call the local authorities if notified about illegal harassment or physical behavior.
Let a CU Water Cooler representative know about the harassing behavior. We will attempt to mediate, contact local authorities, ban offenders from future CU Water Cooler online and offline communities, and/or contact the offender’s organization about said behavior..While we cannot take action against harassment unless we know about it, we understand that it isn’t always easy to report such behavior — especially if you are dealing with someone who (perceived or otherwise) wields a lot of power in the credit union movement. In that light, our harassment reporting tool (see button on the top-left of this page) allows you to do so anonymously if you choose.
This policy is a “living document,” and will be improved with the help of our attendees, peers, supporters and greater community. If you have any suggestions on how to make it better, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
So what do you think? How can we improve this?
CU Water Cooler Co-Founder
Special thanks to Sara Dyer, Matthew Cropp, Tim McAlpine, and William Azaroff for your help crafting this.