“We nailed it!”
This was our initial feeling after Slush 2016. No major mess-ups, largely positive feedback and the team jumping through the roof out of genuine excitement. However, after a couple days it was brought to our attention that some of our attendees had experienced harassment at the afterparty. Needless to say, by no means had we “nailed it”.
This news served as an overdue, much-needed wake-up call. At the time, we didn’t even have an anti-harassment policy.
We had always focused on having a diverse speaker lineup, balancing out our attendees’ gender ratio, and a heterogenous organizing team had occurred quite naturally. We were, and still are, immensely proud of this but this progress had blinded us. These issues concern everyone and we are not an exception.
Since the beginning of the year, we have been studying and discussing how to fight the harassment issue pragmatically. We started from scratch since we wanted to answer how we, as Slush and as a team, can go beyond words and make sure entrepreneurship can be celebrated by everyone at the event, harassment-free.
Here are the first steps we have taken to ensure that Slush remains a positive experience for all of its attendees. Let’s get concrete.
- Code of Conduct. Since we didn’t have an anti-harassment policy, we created a Code of Conduct (CoC) that applies to everyone – attendees and the organizing team alike. This is the base for everyone’s action. In a nutshell: don’t behave like a pig.
- Communication. We make sure all the attendees have the opportunity to read the Slush CoC. When buying a Slush ticket, downloading the app and receiving the attendee info, each attendee has to accept, and will be reminded of the CoC, including our zero tolerance policy towards people violating it.
- Security personnel. We have doubled the amount of security at the venue and added a security helpdesk available for immediate assistance. Our security personnel will be easy to spot among the crowd.
- Standby to support. Support is available at all times. We have a special Slush Mediators team on-site who have been coached and advised by professionals to be better equipped to provide immediate assistance at the venue.
- Production. We made improvements to address the issues that arose from last year’s venue design such as the crowded cloakroom area. This year, the venue will be more spacious.
- Encouraging individual responsibility. Everyone is required to wear a name badge throughout the event, also at the afterparty, to remind themselves and others who they are representing at Slush.
What to do if you witness signs of harassment at Slush?
- Please, speak up. If you experience or witness any harassment, please reach out to our security personnel, Security Helpdesk, or our team. We are here for you.
- Consequences. In the case of breaching the CoC, offending parties will be immediately removed from the venue and barred from entering further Slush events.
These actions are neither all-encompassing nor bulletproof, but they are a start. The entire Slush team will keep fighting harassment head on in order to create a safe and respectful environment for our visitors and staff.
Slush was founded to build a radically positive culture towards entrepreneurship. There’s no room for people who think this wasn’t built for everyone. Luckily we’ve seen that 99.9% of people understand this. Let’s take that final leap to 100%.