FAQ Regarding the Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment for Members and Event Attendees

This FAQ document is intended to provide additional information to leaders and event chairs of ACM Special Interest Groups (“SIGs”) to aid in implementing ACM’s Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment for ACM members and registered attendees of ACM- or SIG-sponsored events (the “Policy”).

What role do SIG leaders and event chairs play under the Policy?

The Policy prohibits discrimination and discriminatory harassment and is intended to encourage the reporting of conduct that is discriminatory or that constitutes discriminatory harassment when it occurs in connection with ACM-related activities, including any conferences, symposiums, meetings or other events sponsored by a SIG, and including communications sent through official communication channels for any such activity or event.

Under the Policy, SIG event chairs are responsible for ensuring that when they learn of a complaint of discrimination or harassment, they promptly report it to ACM’s President (president@acm.org), or Chief Executive Officer (CEO) (ceo@acm.org) or the CEO’s designee, currently the ACM Chief Operating Officer (COO) (coo@acm.org).  Although other SIG leaders are not specifically identified as individuals to whom complaints may be made, they should also ensure that if they learn of a complaint, they promptly report it to the event chair and the ACM representatives outlined above.  This will help ensure that complaints are handled in a consistent manner that is compliant with the Policy, and will enable prompt resolution by individuals who have the requisite experience, training and access to advice.

For the same reasons, SIG leaders and event chairs are asked not to attempt to mediate or resolve complaints informally.  In general, SIG leaders and event chairs should also not take the initiative to involve third parties, such as security personnel or the police, when they receive a complaint.  If an individual who makes a complaint also wants to inform security or the police, they should be told that they should take any steps they feel are appropriate for their own safety.  If the individual requests help in doing so, and/or there appears to be an emergency situation (e.g., the individual requires medical assistance or there has been an overt threat of violence), SIG leaders and event chairs should of course rely on their own judgment and common sense in providing assistance.  However, they should not presume that an individual making a complaint would welcome the involvement of third parties and should generally leave it to the individual to seek that involvement. 

In all cases, the SIG leader or event chair who receives a complaint should make clear what their own next steps will be (i.e., reporting to ACM) and direct the individual making the complaint to information about the Policy and the process for resolving complaints.

How should the SIG leader or event chair report to ACM?

Please send an e-mail to the three addresses provided in the Policy: president@acm.org, ceo@acm.org, and coo@acm.org, and indicate in the subject line that it concerns a discrimination or harassment complaint.  If the matter is urgent, please feel free to both e-mail and attempt to reach ACM’s COO by phone.

  What happens after a complaint is reported?   

ACM’s COO, as the CEO’s designee, reviews and directs appropriate follow-up of complaints made under the Policy, in consultation with the Chair of ACM’s Committee on Professional Ethics (the “Committee”).  Typically, the Committee contacts the complainant and may provide them with information regarding other reporting options. The ACM President, in consultation with the Committee Chair, makes a recommendation to the Committee on how to resolve the complaint.  The Committee makes the final decision as to whether the Policy was violated.

What happens if the Committee finds that the Policy was violated?

The Committee decides whether, and what, remedial action is appropriate.  Remedial actions may include, among other things, exclusion from ACM leadership positions and participating in future ACM- or SIG-sponsored conferences or activities and suspension or termination of ACM membership.  ACM keeps records of individuals found to be in violation of the Policy or the Code of Ethics, and advises the appropriate subunits as necessary to implement remedial actions (such as a prohibition of a member serving as a volunteer or registering for an event).