Does Your Association Need a Conference Ombuds Program?
A system should exist to allow conference-goers to easily report unethical behavior
Every association wants their conference attendees to feel safe and welcome at their events. But, at the same time, if an attendee does face harassment or witnesses other unwelcome behavior, there needs to be a system in place that allows a conference-goer to easily report it.
In that past, that system has typically included training staff, consultants, or even volunteer leaders on bystander intervention and how to respond when someone approaches them about an incident.
While that system has worked for many groups to curtail bad behavior, others are looking at additional options that either ease an attendee’s anxiety about reporting or provide better feedback to the association about issues surfacing at their events. One route they are going is hiring a conference ombuds. At the conference, people would go to the ombuds for help with dealing with everything from harassment to free speech and integrity issues to problems about the hotel to issues related to the association.
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