Approved by the Board of Directors, July 2023

This Meeting Code of Conduct Policy (Policy) is intended to set clear expectations of professional behavior of individuals participating in an AOAC INTERNATIONAL (AOAC) meeting or event and related activities (Event), whether virtual or in person, to ensure ethical, professional, and inclusive conduct that provides a safe and welcoming environment for an open exchange of ideas. This Policy applies to all participants of AOAC events which includes organizers, attendees, speakers, volunteers, sponsors, exhibitors, partners, award recipients, guests, staff, outside contractors, and service providers.

All participants in the 2023 AOAC INTERNATIONAL Annual Meeting are expected to abide by the AOAC INTERNATIONAL Meeting Code of Conduct.

AOAC welcomes all participants and celebrates diversity in all its forms. The Association is committed to providing an inclusive environment that is collaborative, supportive, and engaging for everyone involved, and that is free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. AOAC expects all participants to play a role in our mission by being respectful and considerate of each other and embracing the multitude of opinions offered by participants engaged in any AOAC event.

This Policy applies throughout the Event period. AOAC events are intended to foster effective, open and honest communication and to promote equality of opportunity and treatment for all participants. It is imperative that participants conduct themselves professionally toward all, engage in courteous and respectful interactions, and recognize the intellectual property of others participating in AOAC events. All forms of communication among participants fall under the jurisdiction of this Policy. These include public and private communications between participants during the Event period, including but not limited to, face-to-face interactions, virtual breakout rooms, electronic chat communications (emails, texts, chats, etc), social media, phone calls, and other forms of written, verbal, and non-verbal (including visual) communication. In addition, conduct relating to communications, as described above, occurring after the Event, but pertaining to content from the Event and/or where contact information of a Participant was procured during the Event may also fall under the purview of this Policy as described below.

Expectations of Participants

Discrimination, harassment, and bullying by and between participants will not be tolerated. Participants asked to stop such behavior(s) by anyone are expected to comply immediately, regardless of their intent.

Discrimination is the treatment of an individual or group based on gender, race, ethnic or national origin, religion, age, marital status, pregnancy or parental status, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability status, physical appearance, socioeconomic level, or other protected status that results in unfair, unequal, or differential professional opportunities or benefits.

Harassment is any form of discrimination that is unwelcome or unwanted, or persistent offensive, denigrating, or hostile behavior that is directed toward a person or group based on race, ethnic or national origin, religion, age, marital status, pregnancy or parental status, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability status, physical appearance, socioeconomic level, or other protected status.  Harassment can be manifested by, but not limited to, verbal or written abuse such as slurs, epithets, denigrating jokes, abusive direct electronic messaging, or negative stereotyping; and by non-verbal behavior such as obscene gestures or the display of denigrating or insulting written or graphic materials.

Sexual harassment is a particular type of harassment that includes unwelcome conduct such as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or dates, remarks about an individual’s appearance, discussions, remarks or jokes of a sexual nature, and/or other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can also include non-verbal behavior such as unwanted physical contact or violations of personal space that are of a sexual nature. Behaviors involving “quid pro quo” offers of professional opportunities or the creation of a hostile professional environment are clear examples of sexual harassment. 

Bullying is unwelcome or unreasonable verbal or non-verbal behavior by an individual or group that demeans, intimidates, humiliates, abuses, or sabotages the work of people and causes physical or emotional harm in a professional environment. Bullying behavior is most often aggressive, persistent, and part of a pattern, but it can also occur as a single egregious incident. Bullying often involves abuse of professional or supervisory authority or position. Exercising appropriate authority, directing the work of others pursuant to their job responsibilities, an honest error, and respectful scientific debate over differences of opinion are not considered bullying behavior.

In the context of communications that take place during an Event presentation and the discussions among and between participants that follow, communications should be focused on the Event topic at hand and all Participants must be able and welcome to equitably and effectively participate. Participants may courteously and respectfully express an opinion, raise research or describe an experience (“articulation”) that is at odds with the opinions of others. Such an articulation is expected to be part of an on-point discussion of the topic at hand and offered in a manner that does not interfere with others’ reasonable ability to participate fully. In the pursuit of science, individuals have the freedom to disagree with or dispute wider community-held positions.

On the following page is a table demonstrating examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors that may provide additional clarification if there are questions regarding specific interactions.

Demonstrate respect and consideration for all people, and do not dominate a discussion.

Welcome and listen well to others. Make room for and invite a diversity of voices in discussions in the Event and in social media and online platforms of the Event.

Be collaborative. Be mindful not to exert dominance over others. Consider the effect of relationship, position, experience, and privilege power differentials, and other factors to avoid dominance.

Demonstrate that differing perspectives are valued — critique ideas (not people); be courteous and respectful when expressing an opinion.

Report conduct concerns to AOAC management so that concerns can be addressed responsibly and timely.

Respect confidentiality of the identities of any individuals involved in a conduct concern, while it is being reviewed and addressed.

Answer disclosure questions about conduct concerns in a forthright and thorough manner (e.g., when registering or during a review of concerns).

If any participant, leader or facilitator of an online activity/session/event, or any AOAC official directs you to stop a behavior or comment, immediately comply. After complying, you may raise any questions or concerns to AOAC Management.
Intentionally talk over or interrupt others.

Engage in biased, demeaning, intimidating, coercive, bullying, or harassing/hostile written, verbal, or non-verbal (including visual) conduct or commentary, whether seriously or in jest.

Engage in personal attacks.

Comment on personal appearance, seriously or in jest.

Engage in unwanted contact, including harassment and/or bullying.

Retaliate against or disadvantage anyone for reporting a conduct concern or assisting in its resolution, or make bad faith accusations.

Disrupt the meeting or engage in threats of violence or harm of any kind. Do not create/contribute to an unsafe or exclusionary situation.

Invade the personal privacy of individuals. Only the Association may (a) take/make or distribute (in any medium) audio- or visual- recordings of the Event or participants or (b) distribute them (via social media or other means). Other recording of Association Events is strictly prohibited. This includes recording events, in whole or in part, via videos and/or making audio recordings. Participants wishing to take screen-shots and/or share information from the Event via social media must adhere to the use terms of those platforms.

By registering for and attending the Event, Participants agree to allow the Association to use their photo or a video of them in any AOAC publication, promotion, on the website or social media pages. AOAC virtual events may be recorded by the Association and the content may be made available to Participants through a period of time following the Event. Only AOAC may (a) take/make or distribute (in any medium) audio- or visual-recordings of the Event or Participants or (b) distribute them (via social media or other means). Other recording of AOAC Events is prohibited. This includes recording events, in whole or in part, via videos and/or making audio recordings. Participants wishing to share information from the Event and/or post screen shots via social media, whether of their own material or that of others, must adhere to the platform’s stated rules and policies.

Reporting an Incident

All participants should report safety concerns of any kind immediately to the host venue, event security personnel who are on-site, or local authorities. Beyond safety concerns, any participant who becomes aware of, experiences or witnesses another participant potentially in breach of this policy is asked to report the incident immediately to a member of AOAC management (either directly or through another AOAC staff member), and/or may file a written Complaint to the AOAC Human Resources department at: [email protected]. Similarly, if there is reason to go beyond the Human Resources department, the participant may submit a direct complaint to the Executive Director at [email protected] . Management of AOAC is dedicated to treating every reported incident with respect, confidentiality, sensitivity, and dignity and to responding as swiftly as reasonably possible. AOAC reserves the right to remove any individual from the event without warning or refund, prohibit attendance at future events, and notify the individual’s employer and/or funding agencies. AOAC also reserves the right to take action in response to such a breach of policy in any manner that it deems appropriate, within relevant legal limits.