Kumoricon Staff Membership Policies
Table of Contents
- Staff Policies Summary
- Staff Agreement
- Harassment Policy
- Adjudication Policy
- Conflict of Interest Policy
Last modified February 6, 2017
1. Get permission before spending money.
All spending is budgeted. Staff may not spend money for Kumoricon without prior approval from their director or manager. Reimbursement requires written approval and itemized receipts.
2. Don't make promises without prior approval.
Staff may not sign contracts or make verbal or written promises to outside parties without prior approval from their director or manager. This includes negotiations beyond an introduction, and reaching out to other businesses, industry, guests, or press.
3. Avoid speaking on behalf of the con without permission.
This rule can be tricky, and staff need to be careful. Staff are not allowed to speak as representatives for the convention without permission. This includes speaking to the press and making any statement visible to the public, in whatever format, including web posts and social media comments. Even if you are not using any official organization resources, if it is known to the public that you are staff, your statements can be interpreted as official statements. If in doubt, please ask your director or our Publicity department for guidance.
4. Keep confidential information private.
It's ok to talk to people outside the con about the work you do for the con, and what your job is like. But certain information is sensitive and should only be shared with staff who have a genuine need to know. If you aren't sure, it's your responsibility to ask your supervisor about what is sensitive. Certain things are always treated as very sensitive:
- Personally identifiable information about attendees, including but not limited to attendee or member databases, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, or birthdates
- Disputes or incident reports involving staff or attendees
- Department or organization budgets
- Identities or details of guests of honor, industry guests, or partners which have not been publicly announced
- The existence or details of venue contracts which have not been publicly announced
- Any type of information planned for announcement at a later date or time
- Any type of information that we are treating as sensitive or confidential
5. Honor your staff commitment.
Joining staff means you're pledging a commitment that lasts through the next upcoming convention. Some of your work obligations might be pre-con, and some might be at-con. You're also promising to be available during emergencies and shortages during the times you are on site. If you hold more than one position, then it's your responsibility to make sure you communicate time conflicts in advance.
6. Keep in contact.
Keep in communication with your manager or director. Not sure about something, or what to do next? Ask!
7. Set a good example.
People will make judgments about the entire convention based on the actions of a single staff member. Show the world—and your fellow staff—your best.
8. Follow the code of conduct and staff policies.
The full staff policies are available to registered staff on the website, along with additional staff training and resources. The attendee code of conduct is publicly available on the website. The board may change these rules without prior notice. You will be notified if we make changes that change any expectations we have of you.
9. For managers only…
Managers and executive-level staff are subject to additional policies and required training. After you register, you may be given a date by which you must complete these to maintain your manager-level or executive-level staff status.
Staff members may be listed publicly by name and position. Staff member names, positions, email addresses, phone numbers, and cities are listed in a directory only accessible to current staff members. We may take your photo when you register as staff, or when you check in at the convention. Your photo is displayed to all staff up and down your chain of command, and to all convention executives. You may change a privacy setting to make your photo visible to the entire staff. Staff members who have positions reporting to them may also access the email addresses of previous staff to ensure registration invitation emails are sent to the correct address.
- You have completed and signed the form.
- You are signing up for a specific position, initialed by the director for each position.
- The staff quiz (see pages 3 and 4) is attached, unless you took it in a previous year.
- You are at least age 16 at time of registration. (We sometimes make exceptions.)
- If under age 18 at time of registration, you have submitted a parent permission and liability release form.
- The Secretary ratifies your registration.
A few other things…
- You can change or add staff positions later, provided you have the permission and approval of each director.
- Staff registration covers your convention entrance. You don't need to pay or register as an attendee separately.
- If you previously registered for Kumoricon 2020 as an attendee, then your staff registration is an upgrade and you are eligible for a refund. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request this.
- All Kumoricon staff are unpaid volunteers—even the top executives and board of directors.
A staff member may resign from one or more staff positions by delivering written notice to either the Secretary or to the director to which the staff member reports. Because it is possible for a staff member to hold more than one position, the resignation should specify the exact position(s) the member is resigning from. Resignation from all current staff positions will result in resignation as a member of Altonimbus Entertainment.
Unfortunately, it is occasionally necessary to remove a staff member from a position. The director to which a staff member reports for a specific position will make such a decision if it becomes necessary. The staff member may request an appeal from the director or the whole board regarding a removal. The director or the whole board will decide whether to hear an appeal on a case-by-case basis.
Also, occasionally, an individual will be barred from becoming staff either indefinitely or for a certain period of time. Such an individual may request an appeal to lift this status. The board will decide whether to hear such an appeal on a case-by-case basis. Appeals will usually not be heard in the 90 days leading up to the convention. In hearing an appeal, the board will decide whether the appeal will be heard by the whole board, or only by certain directors. The board, among other factors, may consider the amount of time that has passed since the individual's offenses in deciding either whether to hear an appeal or in considering a specific appeal. The board may contact the individual with questions prior to deciding whether to hear an appeal. If the board decides to lift the status barring an individual from becoming staff, understand that this does not mean the individual has now been granted a staff position; it only means that the individual may now apply for positions. It is possible that an individual will be unbarred from staff but will then not, in fact, be appointed to any staff positions.
This agreement is signed upon registration.
By signing, you are registering for voting membership in Altonimbus Entertainment ("we", "us") for the 2020 term, and pledging a commitment as a volunteer staff member for Kumoricon 2020, which may include at-con duties as well as out-of-con duties at other times of the year. Your registration (both for voting membership and for staff status) only takes effect when we ratify it, after you meet the registration requirements (see below). Voting membership status is governed by the bylaws of Altonimbus Entertainment. Staff status may be terminated at will by either you or us. Unless notified otherwise, your staff status lasts through the end of the 2020 convention, and may include post-convention wrap-up duties for some positions. We will notify you of the conclusion of your staff duties on or before your exact staffing end date, which will vary based on your position. Your staff status does not automatically renew for Kumoricon 2021. While you are staff, you are expected to follow the full staff policies, which we may amend without prior notice. You must also uphold your confidentiality obligations past the duration of your staff status in order to remain in good standing with us. Your contractual rights and obligations will not be changed without your affirmative consent.
Last modified October 14, 2019
All staff members are expected to be awesome! We need to conduct ourselves in a courteous, professional manner. Whether you're on duty at one of our events or not, we staff are viewed as representatives of Altonimbus Entertainment to the public. We must be respectful and mindful of our fellow staffers, guests of honor, industry personnel, contractors, exhibitors, convention attendees, and anyone else we come across! We will not tolerate discrimination and/or harassment of any form at any level.
Our goal is to provide a safe, secure, and pleasant environment for anyone and everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, age, race, or religion. In order to achieve this, the following rules of conduct must be followed by every Kumoricon staff member, regardless of position or staff level, no matter how high up.
These rules of conduct apply at any time, place, or venue throughout the year while we are registered as staff members, in which staff members are participating primarily because we are staff, and also anytime a staff member appears to be representing Altonimbus Entertainment (intentionally or unintentionally). If anyone violates these rules, they will be asked to stop and will need to comply immediately. Any violations (repeated or singular, depending on severity) can result in being asked to leave the event, and if the violation is serious enough, may include suspension or removal of that person's staff status. Any violation which involves activities prohibited by law may result in notification of the proper authorities.
The following are examples of conduct which we can't allow as staff (most of them should be obvious and easy):
- Use of sexually explicit language or imagery.
- Discriminatory or derogatory jokes or comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, national origin, religion, age, marital status, military status, or any other aspect of a person's identity.
- Deliberate intimidation stalking or following.
- Photography or recordings that serve to intimidate or embarrass, rather than preserve a positive memory, or when the subject has made a reasonable request that they do not wish to be photographed.
- Heckling, jeering, or other disruption of convention events.
- Unwanted physical contact.
- Threats, or use of explicit violent language or imagery.
- Display of vulgar signs, gestures, T-shirts, symbols, etc. containing prohibited language or imagery.
- Any form of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments or other generally acceptable social behavior. Sexual harassment refers to verbal, physical, and visual conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome and offensive to the recipient.
There are certain limited situations where language or imagery that would normally not be acceptable may be permitted. Such conduct may be proper if it is part of a work of media being presented as official event programming, if it is part of a contextually appropriate educational discussion, or if the review of such content is part of the official business of the organization. What's important is that staff, attendees, and others are not exposed to this content against their wishes.
Please contact your manager immediately if:
- You feel you have been the victim of harassment by vendors, industry, guests, exhibitors, visitors, attendees, co-staffers, managers, or others;
- You observe or hear of conduct which may be harassment prohibited by this policy;
- You feel you have been retaliated against in any way by anyone for raising concerns under this policy;
- You feel you may have unintentionally performed such an action and are unable to, for any reason, make amends alone or without assistance.
We understand that there will be cases where you may be uncomfortable speaking to your direct manager; that's perfectly fine! If you're in this situation, please bring your concerns to any manager or executive-level staff you feel comfortable speaking with. However, please be certain the person you are speaking to is actually a manager or above position before speaking with them and disclosing any information.
Upon disclosure of a possible interaction, we will promptly conduct a confidential investigation. In deciding on the corrective action, we'll consider the whole situation. We will consider the severity of the violation, a history of similar or any other violations, and if the incident was intentional. Appropriate corrective actions will be taken as needed upon completion of the investigation. Any volunteer staff found to be in violation of the policy will be promptly educated or disciplined.
How to Respond to Conduct in Violation of Policy:
If an attendee or fellow staff member believes that they have been subject to harassment, they may address the situation directly and immediately with the alleged harasser by asking them to stop. If the inappropriate conduct does not cease, or if the harassed person is uncomfortable with addressing the alleged harasser directly (or unable to), please advise them to report the incident to their own manager, director (if they are a member of staff), or to a member of the Human Relationship department. If you, as a staffer, are witness to this event, please bring it to one of the superiors listed above. It is helpful, but not required, to provide a written record of the date, time, and nature of the incident(s) and the names of any witnesses.
It is important to report any and all concerns of harassment or discrimination to a member of the Human Relationship department or a manager or director as soon as possible. We as management must be made aware of the situation as soon as possible so that we can conduct an immediate and impartial investigation, and take appropriate action to remediate or prevent any further harassment from continuing. After all, we want all of you to feel safe!
Managers and Directors:
We (as managers and directors) must deal quickly and fairly with allegations of harassment or discrimination within our departments, whether or not there has been a written or formal complaint. We must take all complaints or concerns of alleged or potential harassment or discrimination seriously, no matter how minor, or who is involved. Furthermore, we should ensure that any possible incidents of harassment or discrimination are immediately reported to a member of the Human Relationship department so that a prompt investigation can occur, and any appropriate action can be taken to prevent retaliation or prohibited conduct from recurring.
Managers and directors who knowingly allow or tolerate harassment or retaliation, including the failure to immediately report such misconduct, are in violation of this policy and also subject to discipline.
Version of the policy in effect after November 3, 2019:
What this policy covers
This policy provides a process for decision-making, or review of a previous decision, in the following situations (either when alleged, or undisputed):
- Staff or attendee misconduct
- Disciplinary actions against a staff member or attendee (defined as any adverse change in or nonrenewal of a person's status, responsibilities, or benefits as a result of alleged misconduct)
- Any decision of any kind against a staff member or attendee that is made for a discriminatory or retaliatory reason prohibited by the organization harassment policy
This policy covers any of the above situations if they are connected with the organization, even if they do not take place at or during one of its events.
In some situations, the procedures laid out in this document are an available option; in other cases, they are mandated. Details further below, as well as certain provisions of the organization bylaws, describe in what circumstances they are mandated.
For the purposes of this policy, "attendee" also includes exhibitors, artists, or participants in programs that primarily target these groups of people, even if actual attendee status is not a strict requirement (such as contests or online discussion venues).
Contractors, industry guests, industry partners, guests of honor, and press do not have any protection or rights under this policy regarding the ability to prevent or appeal an adverse decision against them, as these invitations and relationships are considered discretionary. Misconduct, discrimination, or harassment against any of these people, is of course disallowed and may be reviewed internally under this policy.
Adjudication process options
An adjudication process may be carried out with three different levels of formality, depending on the needs and circumstances of the situation.
In a non-binding review, a staff member of the Human Relationship sub-department will review and investigate an incident, and make a report containing findings of fact and recommendations on a course of action. The recommendations are non-binding and both the findings and recommendations can be appealed or re-reviewed.
In an informal decision-making review, a temporary group of between two and seven staff members, including at least one manager, will review and investigate an incident, and make a report containing findings of fact and decisions on a course of action. The findings and decisions are binding, but can be reviewed or overruled by the board or by a formal decision-making review (see below).
A formal decision-making review is the most involved form of adjudication process. When the bylaws require an adjudication process to be carried out for a specific reason listed in the bylaws, then it must be this most formal process. A temporary review committee with specific composition requirements will review and investigate the incident, and must allow for a formal hearing for the respondent to explain their case. The committee will make a report containing findings of fact and decisions on a course of action. The findings and decisions are binding, final, and are considered the actions of the organization.
How the adjudication process works
How the review is initiated: A non-binding review may be requested by any party, including by a staff member in the Human Relationship sub-department. The head of the Human Relationship sub-department will decide whether to accept a request; however, a review must begin if requested by the board, by the director overseeing the Human Relationship sub-department, or by any two directors, unless such a request is overridden by the board or the review is escalated to one of the two more formal options.
The board does not need to be involved in initiating or conducting a non-binding review.
How the review is conducted: A staff member of the Human Relationship sub-department, under the direction of the head of this sub-department, will review and investigate the incident, and make a report containing findings of fact and recommendations on a course of action.
The entirety of the "Conduct and procedure" section, "Decision-making" section, and all other sections, applies.
Who receives the report: The report will be delivered to the party(s) who have decision-making authority for the situation under review, unless this would violate a reasonable expectation of confidentiality. At the discretion of the Human Relationship sub-department, the report may also be delivered to additional parties, subject to limits of appropriateness and caution in creating an implication that a non-binding recommendation has been made an official decision. The report will also be delivered to any party by request of the board, unless this would violate a reasonable expectation of confidentiality.
Effect of the recommendations: The recommendations are non-binding, and the original decision-makers are not required to carry them out. The findings and recommendations can be reviewed or overruled by the board or by a more formal review option, and the findings and recommendations do not formally change the normal decision-making chain of command of the organization.
Informal decision-making reviews
How the review is initiated: An informal decision-making review may be requested by any party. It may begin in an informal manner as potential group members to constitute the review are proposed and assembled. To formally begin the review requires agreement from all involved parties (see definition of this term further below), including agreement on the review group members and chairperson, and agreement on the scope of the review.
Requirements for the decision-making group: A temporary group of staff members will be formed to conduct the review, meeting the following requirements:
- Between two and seven staff members
- At least one manager
- No more than three board members
- Optionally, one of the group members may serve as a group chairperson
- Any group members who have original decision-making authority over the situation (see definition further below) will be non-voting, if the group chooses to reach a decision by a formal vote
How the review is conducted: The temporary group will review and investigate the incident, and make a report containing findings of fact and decisions on a course of action.
Each group member will re-read this adjudication policy in its entirety at the start of the process.
The entirety of the "Conduct and procedure" section, "Decision-making" section, and all other sections, applies.
Who receives the report: The report will be delivered to all the involved parties (see definition of this term further below), and any additional parties requested by the board, but all such report deliveries are subject to limitations as a result of conflict of interest and confidentiality concerns, as explained in their respective sections below.
However, if requested by any party with original decision-making authority and agreed to by all involved parties prior to the commencement of the review, or if requested by the board at any time (without the need for such agreement by other parties), then the report will be delivered to the board and its appeal considered prior to being delivered to other parties. If the board overrules the report, then, unless the board decides otherwise, only the final decision and findings of the board will be delivered to the other parties.
Effect of the decisions: The findings and decisions in the report are binding, but can be reviewed or overruled by the board or by a formal decision-making review (see below) conducted under this policy. Before the findings and decisions are carried out, the respondent and all persons or parties with original decision-making authority must be given an opportunity to review the report and decide whether to appeal to the board. If no such party expresses a desire to appeal within a reasonable amount of time, then the findings and decisions will be carried out, but they remain reviewable and appealable after the fact.
How an immediate appeal works: If an immediate appeal as described in the previous paragraph is requested by any party with the right to do so, the report will first be delivered to the board. Official notice must be provided at an appropriately timely board meeting that would place it on the agenda. The board may take ownership of the matter as it wishes, subject to other requirements in this policy and in the bylaws. If the board appears to have ignored the appeal, fails to take it up for discussion, or cannot reach any specific decision on a path forward (such as failure for any motion to reach a majority requirement), then the findings and decisions will be carried out, but they remain reviewable and appealable by future action.
Formal decision-making reviews
How the review is initiated: A formal decision-making review is required when requested by the board, when requested by any two board members, or when otherwise required by the bylaws or applicable law.
However, a formal decision-making review whose scope includes any findings or decisions made final by a previous formal decision-making review requires authorization from the board (not merely any two board members) in order to commence.
The board must be notified and aware when such a request meeting the requirements is made, prior to the start of committee selection.
Prior to the commencement of committee action, there must be written agreement on the scope of the fact-finding and decision-making powers of the committee. If the parties requesting the review cannot agree, then the scope will be limited to aspects that are affirmed by at least two board members.
Requirements for the decision-making committee: A temporary review committee will be formed to conduct the review, meeting the following requirements:
- At least five staff members
- An odd number of committee members
- At least one-third executive-level staff members
- At least one-third non-executive-level staff members
- At least one-fifth (but no more than three) board members
- Be about equally divided between those predisposed to be in favor of one side or the other, not counting members who are neutral in predisposition
- At least majority committee members who were not significantly involved in the original situation
- None of the committee members having original decision-making authority in the situation
- At least seven committee members if the situation may lead to removal from the board or ineligibility to be on the board
- There must be no person who "always" or almost always is selected from one review to another (including any person in the Human Relationship sub-department); participation must rotate in the interest of independence
- One of the committee members will serve as the committee chairperson
No party (except the board) has the right to require approval of the composition or chairperson. In the event that informal discussion leaves significant dissatisfaction with the committee composition from any involved party, then the board will select a final composition.
The requirements listed above may be waived if agreed to by all involved parties and the board, or if, in the decision of the board, they cannot be met without compromising fairness or imposing an undue burden on the organization.
How the review is conducted: The temporary committee will review and investigate the incident, and make a report containing findings of fact and decisions on a course of action.
The process must include at least one formal opportunity for the respondent to present arguments and evidence in their defense, answer questions from the committee, and request questions to be asked to witnesses as cross-examination, which the committee may allow or deny, and carry out, in its discretion.
The committee may not make a final decision on the same day that any new important information is presented or discovered.
Each committee member will re-read this adjudication policy in its entirety at the start of the process.
The entirety of the "Conduct and procedure" section, "Decision-making" section, and all other sections, applies.
Who receives the report: The report will be delivered to all the involved parties (see definition of this term further below), the board, and any additional parties requested by the board, but all such report deliveries are subject to limitations as a result of conflict of interest and confidentiality concerns, as explained in their respective sections below.
Effect of the decisions: The findings and decisions in the report are binding and final and are treated as the action of the organization. The findings and decisions cannot be overruled by the board directly, but can only be overruled by a subsequent, formal decision-making review conducted and authorized under this policy, or as described in the "Legal actions" section.
When there is a report of alleged conduct that violates the organization staff harassment policy, and when the complaint has not been resolved informally, or when any involved party or any reporter wishes to bypass informal resolution first, then a review, of some level of formality, must occur. If, for any reason, the review does not or cannot commence, then any affected managers, directors, or the board must follow up to ensure that a review at some level of formality commences. If a non-binding review occurs and the recommended decisions are not carried out, then a review at a higher level of formality must occur.
Conduct and procedure
While the review process is underway, the following attendance and privacy rules apply:
- Decision-making participants may not discuss the matter with each other, either directly, or through an intermediary, outside of deliberation meetings, except via communication that includes all other participants.
- Deliberation meetings must invite every decision-making participant, and other involved or affected parties must not be present.
- All hearings of the respondent must include all decision-making participants, unless the respondent requests or agrees to a smaller hearing and all decision-making participants who would be absent also agree. The respondent may be accompanied by an additional person to assist in their defense.
- Investigations or interviews of witnesses need not be conducted with all decision-making participants present.
- Witness testimony and hearings of the respondent may be combined at the discretion of the decision-making participants, but the respondent has the right to require all or a portion of their hearing be in private without witnesses present, and likewise, any witness has the right to require all or a portion of their testimony or interview be in private without any other witnesses or the respondent present.
- For any interviews, meetings, or hearings that are part of the review, no other person may be present than those listed above without a strong justification, such as accommodations for a disability, professional advice, legal requirements, or a special exception approved by the decision-making participants if fairness requires it.
Deliberations, investigations, and hearings may be conducted in person, by voice call, in writing, or a combination thereof, in order to accommodate the reasonable requests, preferences, and schedules of every person involved. All meetings must provide fair and reasonable notice to every person who should be invited.
All staff members are required to cooperate, upon request, with an investigation under this adjudication policy, regardless of the level of formality. When talking to a staff member as part of such an investigation, the investigator should communicate that the investigation is being conducted under the organization adjudication policy. The staff member may request to talk to a person in the Human Relationship sub-department or a manager in their chain of command first.
The review process must move forward with reasonable speed, and stay in communication with involved and affected parties, particularly the respondent. The chairperson holds the primary responsibility for ensuring that these requirements are met, including ensuring that the next meeting of the review process is scheduled and that the respondent is aware of the next step.
The respondent may waive participation in part or all of the process and the review process may proceed without that party's defense. The review process may interrupt any proceeding or communication with a respondent or witness who does not reasonably cooperate with scheduling or logistical requests, or who engages in frivolous or abusive behavior, and proceed without their participation.
The board may intervene in the case of a review chairperson or participant not adhering to their review duties or rules of conduct, as long as, for a formal decision-making review, any intervention does not serve to alter an apparent probable outcome.
For a formal decision-making review, report contents and decisions must be approved by formal vote of the committee.
For an informal decision-making review, the report and decisions may be made either by consensus, or a more formal vote if desired. If the group has any members who have original decision-making authority over the situation, and the group chooses to decide by a formal vote, then those specific members must abstain from the formal vote, but may otherwise entirely participate in the discussion.
For either type of decision-making review (informal or formal), majority approval of the total number of decision-making participants who are eligible to vote is required to approve an action or report. In the event of lack of initial consensus for the findings and decisions of a report, the decision-making participants are encouraged to find a common set of findings and actions that will reach majority approval for a unified report. However, if this is not possible, it is permissible for a report to consist of findings or decisions for which each independent portion has received majority approval. In the event that a finding or decision has majority approval but with participants differing on the reasoning such that no single explanation has majority support, the report may include different concurring explanations, which should be distinguished as such and are individually considered non-binding.
For any type of review, the decision-making participants are permitted to decide that they cannot reach any conclusion. Reasons for this may include, inability to reach clear findings for necessary parts of the investigation, or a belief that the scope of the review's decision-making authority is too narrow to allow a fair or conclusive result. If a review concludes with such declaration of non-action, then the matter remains reviewable, even if this was a formal review whose report would otherwise be final.
Prior to the completion of an adjudication process, the board or other normally-authorized personnel may make disciplinary decisions that apply on a temporary basis, such as a suspension, or a pause of a suspension. Once it is evident that an adjudication review will commence, will likely commence, or is underway, disciplinary decisions communicated to a party must specify that they are not final.
Conflict of interest
No person who has a relevant conflict of interest for an affected incident may be involved in decision-making, deliberation, or conducting an investigation for any type of review under this policy. This includes participation as a member of the Human Relationship sub-department in an affected incident, participation as a group or committee member, or any other decision-making role. For the purposes of this section, "relevant" means the conflict of interest involves a respondent or a person who has original decision-making authority in the situation under review. "Involvement" for conflict of interest purposes includes being in that individual's reporting chain. (The Chair is not considered to be in the reporting chain of the other eight departments or board members.)
This section applies in addition to the general provisions of the organization conflict of interest policy, including any conflict of interest mitigations that have been previously put in place.
All participants acting in an official capacity in a review must respect reasonable expectations of confidentiality. Participants must keep in mind that reporting of misconduct is a very sensitive matter and participants are exposed to the risk of retaliation, and are usually reporting with a heightened expectation of confidentiality. Such expectations may have particular case-by-case circumstances, and may be stricter than those normally expected for board or executive discussion. In most matters discussed at the executive level, the primary concern is protecting information from leaving the organization. However, for sensitive situations that may be reviewed under an adjudication process, the concern must also be to protect against improper internal sharing. When information is reviewed under an expectation of confidentiality, participants may only share that information with other staff members, including board members or executives, for a proper purpose.
An expectation of confidentiality must be reasonable in order to be controlling. A review process may act contrary to an expectation of confidentiality if it is necessary in order to reach a fair decision, to allow a person to defend themselves, or to present information in its report that impacts any person's safety, standing, or rights, or that impacts a significant business or mission-based decision of the organization.
When delivering a report from a review process, any particular person may be excluded, or delivered an appropriately redacted report, if necessary to preserve a reasonable expectation of confidentiality, where excluding that person does not harm the goal of fairness or the ability of the organization to make appropriate decisions.
The respondent is the person facing the adverse change in or nonrenewal of status, responsibilities, or benefits under circumstances covered by this policy.
Having original decision-making authority means the person or party who is authorized to make a decision if no adjudication review would occur.
In an adjudication review, the decision-making participants are (1) In a non-binding review, any persons in the Human Relationship sub-department participating in the investigation under official direction; (2) In an informal decision-making review, the group of staff members formed to conduct the review; or (3) In a formal decision-making review, the committee members. For all three of the above, people in the process of being selected as decision-making participants are included for purposes of policies on conduct, privacy, confidentiality, and conflict of interest, even if the selections are not finalized.
Involved parties in an incident or review are the respondent, persons or parties with original decision-making authority, and decision-making participants. Being a witness or reporter does not, alone, make one an involved party.
Composition requirements for a decision-making group or committee are based on a person's staff status at the start of the selection process, and may, if needed, extend backward to be based on a staff position that recently ended, as long as the participant remains in good standing with the organization and eligible for re-appointment as staff. Any person participating past the end of their titled staff position will be considered an organization staff member, ex officio, for the duration of the adjudication process.
In any issue in which an attorney representing the organization under an attorney-client relationship has reviewed all of the relevant facts of the situation and advises that a course of action is legally required or legally standard, the board may opt to follow that legal advice even if it overrules any adjudication process decision. This takes precedence over any other such restriction on board action elsewhere in this policy.
A "Managers supplement" is available to manager-level staff with more information about the adjudication process.
Version of the policy in effect between October 1, 2017 and November 3, 2019:
- This process will apply:
- In any situation required by the bylaws or applicable law;
- In any proposed institution, revocation, or change in disciplinary action (including but not limited to redlist status), for which at least two board members request this process be used;
- A conflict of interest situation referred to it by the board; or
- Any other situation referred to it by the board.
- Except when acting only on a final decision is required by the bylaws or applicable law, the board will decide whether the action under consideration will be imposed on an interim basis until the adjudication process concludes.
- A review committee will be assembled, meeting these requirements:
- Consist of at least 5 people, or at least 7 people for any case that may lead to removal from the board or ineligibility to be on the board;
- Consist of members not having a conflict of interest involving the respondent, unless unavoidable;
- Consist either of neutral parties, or be about equally divided between those in favor of and against the respondent;
- Consist of at least one-third executive-level staff members; at least one-third non-executive-level staff members; and at least two board members;
- Consist of at least one-third persons (and if possible, at least majority) who were not firsthand involved in the original dispute;
- If possible, not have a conflict of interest between committee members. If this cannot be avoided, then prior to commencing proceedings, all but one person in the conflict should be designated non-voting, and such non-voting members will not count for any count or composition requirements.
- There is no permanent committee; a separate selection of people will occur for each proceeding. There should be no person who "always" or almost always gets selected; participation should rotate.
- Any of these committee requirements may be waived by the respondent.
- The board, consistent with applicable requirements, will specify to the review committee their role for this particular proceeding, which may include one or more of the following:
- Finder of fact
- Determiner of whether certain facts warrant a guilty finding
- Decider of punishment
- The role may be limited in scope; for example, only considering guilt over one specific set of facts.
- The committee will select a chairperson who will communicate with the respondent, and must stay in reasonable communication.
- Fair and reasonable notice must be given to the respondent, and to all committee members, of the proceedings and outcome.
- The committee must accommodate reasonable scheduling requests of the respondent.
- The committee must move with reasonable speed through the process. Generally, at each adjournment or step, a specific date for the next meeting or deadline should be communicated to affected parties.
- There will be a hearing at which the respondent can present arguments and evidence in their defense, and answer questions from the committee. This may be by phone or in person, based on reasonable accommodations of all parties involved.
- The only persons at the hearing should be committee members, witnesses, and if requested, one accompanying person for the respondent, who may assist in their defense; and any other person with a strong justification for being present.
- If agreed to by the respondent, a written process may substitute for a live hearing.
- There will be a discussion session with only committee members present for discussing and/or voting on a decision.
- All discussion involving any committee members must include all committee members, except for absences at a reasonably scheduled meeting, unless an exception and a reason for it is disclosed to the committee chairperson, which the chairperson should share with the committee to the extent reasonable.
- The committee may request additional hearings or discussion sessions as needed or desirable.
- Decisions of the committee:
- A vote of the majority of all committee members of a specific action shall constitute the decision of the committee.
- "Majority" means more than half. Equally divided votes are not more than half. Majority is measured out of total committee members, so an abstention is functionally a "no" vote.
- Findings of guilt, or of lack of guilt, are separate motions requiring separate votes.
- A failure to reach a majority vote for any decision after extensive committee action—being "hopelessly deadlocked"—shall be treated as no action taken by the committee. Once the committee concludes it is deadlocked, the adjudication process is over. A new one may be brought again later, but it must be restarted, with a new committee selection process, and so on.
- A failure of the committee to act in a timely manner shall be treated the same as (c).
- A vote of the majority of all committee members of a specific action shall constitute the decision of the committee.
- The respondent may waive any or all provisions or steps of this policy that act to their advantage, including, if desired, their entire participation in the process.
- If the respondent does not respond to or cooperate with this adjudication process within a reasonable amount of time, or engages in abuse or frivolous behavior with committee members, it shall be treated as a waiver.
- In cases of explicit or implicit waiver, the committee may proceed without the respondent's defense and accelerate all remaining portions of the proceeding as desired.
- The committee proceedings are confidential, but records may be accessed by board members, current or future, and any other persons who have a direct need to review the proceedings. They may be restricted from board members only for conflict of interest reasons.
- The board may override an adjudication committee decision only in cases where the bylaws or this policy does not require this adjudication process to be used. However, a new adjudication committee and proceeding may review or amend an earlier decision.
Last modified October 1, 2017
These policies include wording from templates at Nonprofit Conflict of Interest: A 3-Dimensional View. Neither the publisher nor author of the article is affiliated with Altonimbus Entertainment, nor has reviewed or endorsed this policy.
Goal and purpose
The standard of behavior at Altonimbus Entertainment is that all staff, volunteers, and board members scrupulously recognize, disclose, and work to mitigate conflicts of interest between the interests of Altonimbus Entertainment on one hand, and personal, professional, and business interests on the other. This includes potential and actual conflicts of interest, as well as perceptions of conflicts of interest.
The purposes of this policy are to protect the integrity of Altonimbus Entertainment's decision-making process, to enable our attendees, staff, and members of our community to have confidence in our integrity, and to protect the integrity and reputations of volunteers, staff, and board members.
We recognize that potential and actual conflicts of interest are very common in community and fan-driven organizations such as ours, and are a part of having close beneficial ties throughout our communities. We handle this by scrupulously recognizing and disclosing potential conflicts. When possible, we attempt to turn "conflicts of interest" into "benefits from interest" by taking advantage of the connections that a close community provides, and setting up a process in advance to mitigate potential problems from any conflict.
This policy is meant to supplement good judgment, and staff should respect its spirit as well as its wording.
A conflict of interest is a situation where, as a staff member:
- You have a personal interest (including financial, family, romantic, business, or role in an organization) which may influence your decision-making in your role for Altonimbus; or
- You have duties of loyalty to both this organization and another organization which conflict with each other.
An interest in another organization includes being an owner (sole or significant part), partner, board member, executive decision-maker, influential donor, significant voting power holder, or the same in another organization closely tied to it. In some cases, it may include being an employee, contractor, or staff (paid or unpaid).
A situation that would be a conflict of interest for a given person is also a conflict of interest if it instead involves that person's close family member, romantic partner, business partner, or somebody in that person's reporting chain in another organization.
A conflict of interest is evaluated based on the "whole picture" and what a reasonable person at arm's length would perceive, not technicalities.
All staff members are expected to disclose any potential conflicts of interest, or significant changes in any potential conflicts of interest, and defer or recuse from making decisions related to the conflict until approval is given.
Staff members applying for a position are expected to disclose any potential conflicts of interest that may be created by holding the position, including elected positions.
When disclosing a conflict of interest, disclose to the staff member you report to. Board members should disclose to the board. If disclosing prior to an election and the potential conflict exists by virtue of holding the position, then disclose to the electing body, as soon as possible prior to the election.
When a conflict is disclosed to a supervisory staff member, that staff member will report it further up their management chain if it's needed to adequately address the situation.
A similar process may be followed if a conflict of interest concern is raised by a third party. An individual raising a concern should report it in the same way as if they were disclosing their own potential conflict of interest.
Review and mitigation
When reviewing a conflict of interest, the staff member(s) or board should record the disclosure for future reference and review. In some cases, the conflict can be easily and simply resolved through a quick discussion, or an offer to recuse on a particular issue. In other cases, there should be more detailed discussion and a written mitigation plan.
The following are possible outcomes of a conflict of interest discussion:
- The conflict may be too great to be allowed at all.
- The conflict is allowed, but a designated person will be appointed who will handle the specific duties that would be imputed by the conflict. For example: Appointing a different staff or board member to make a decision on a contract, or appointing a person other than a staff member's normal manager who can review their performance or respond to complaints.
- A staff member will be required to be recused from discussion or decision-making on certain matters.
- A board member or committee member may be restricted from participation, votes, and/or accessing minutes or records relating to a particular issue.
- A decision may be made to communicate the details of the mitigation plan to additional staff members who may be impacted (for example, people who report to the staff member).
The specific process of discussing, creating, and carrying out recusal or a mitigation plan is flexible and should be adapted as needed to serve the spirit and goals of this policy, as there are many unforeseen circumstances that may occur.
Conflict of interest decisions are set on a case-by-case basis, but should generally follow the standards set by previous similar circumstances.
Examples of potential conflicts of interest
- Altonimbus is considering paying a vendor for goods or services, but a staff member is an employee there.
- A staff member helps run a contest, but their romantic partner wants to enter.
- A staff member helps decide applicants for the Exhibits Hall or Panels, but a family member applies.
- Altonimbus is considering spending money in a manner that benefits both the organization and a staff member personally, such as travel for outreach, or software that they will use on their personal computer for both convention and personal work.
- A staff member is considering hiring a romantic partner in a position reporting to them.
- Two board members are in a romantic relationship.
- A staff member routinely talks to representatives of other fan conventions, but they also hold a staff position in one of them.
- An executive-level staff member is also an executive-level staff member or board member in another fan convention.
- A staff member holds a similar position in another organization where confidentiality obligations may conflict.
- A staff member holds a similar position in another organization in which opportunities based on inside information may need to be pursued for only one organization or the other, leading to a conflict.
- Altonimbus is considering a contract with another organization, but a staff member considers undercutting the process and pursuing the contract personally, relying on inside information.
Examples of things not usually needing disclosure
These situations can be conflicts of interest, but they are not automatically considered to be. Staff only need to disclose these if there are additional circumstances such as those described above. Examples:
- Your employer
- Being staff for another convention
- Membership in a social or advocacy organization
- Having a certain political opinion that influences your decision-making
We recognize that discussion about conflict of interest policy may be heated or even feel like it is targeting a particular individual. To help avoid this, we declare it to be part of the policy and culture of this organization that we grandfather in exceptions for specific individuals when we amend this conflict of interest policy (or when we pass it for the first time).
The decision to grandfather a specific individual's conflict should be based on whether the conflict existed in substantially similar form, or was being actively contemplated in that form, at the time the policy was changed or enacted. Sometimes this is difficult to tell, so we should review each situation with regard to what a reasonable person at arm's length would feel happened.
The policy of grandfathering doesn't avoid the need for disclosure, discussion, or mitigation of conflicts (with one exception noted in the next section). Rather, it means that when a specific conflict would otherwise be something we wouldn't allow if it happened in the future, we err on continuing to allow it if we allowed it in the past.
Grandfathering from disclosure
This policy also recognizes a special form of grandfathering from disclosure. There are certain situations where you may feel even just a disclosure is an unfair coercion of your privacy, such as about a romantic relationship. Therefore, you may be excused from disclosure if all of the following are true:
- The policy was enacted for the first time, or amended, in a way that requires you to disclose a situation that the earlier wording wouldn't have;
- For any of the positions you now hold, the enactment or change happened after you applied for that position or (if an elected position) announced your candidacy after the official open of nominations, for this convention year only;
- The disclosure would expose private information that can't be readily found online by the public; and
- You sincerely believe that this disclosure would burden your personal privacy, the personal privacy of a romantic partner, or the personal privacy of a close family member; or
- The disclosure would violate a legal obligation you entered into prior to your acceptance of this conflict of interest policy.
If you make use of this exception, the burden to exercise your best judgment is all on you, and you still otherwise need to act to further the spirit and goals of this policy and your obligations to the organization.
Once an amended or enacted policy is in place through the next appointment or election of your position, this "grandfathering from disclosure" section no longer applies for that particular conflict of interest. You'll then need to make a choice between accepting a position for the subsequent year or making the disclosure.