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Professional Behaviour Policy

Adapted from the Medieval Academy of America’s Professional Behavior Policy[1] 

The Canadian Historical Association (CHA) is committed to protecting all members of our community, especially those in vulnerable positions. Mutual respect is expected; neither harassment nor bullying will be tolerated. The continued health of the historical profession in Canada relies upon the professional and ethical behaviour of the CHA’s members.[2] This document is meant to accompany the CHA Harassment policy and offer guidelines for appropriate behaviour that fosters an inclusive and welcoming environment.

Professional Spaces and Mutual Respect
CHA-sponsored events, including the annual conference at Congress, are opportunities for historians of all fields to exchange ideas and build intellectual and professional networks. All interactive venues of those events—in person, through email and other electronic forms of communication, or on social media, and whether formal or informal—are shared professional spaces. Attendees at CHA events should assume that all of their interactions during the meetings are professional, not personal. Should interactions shift away from the strictly professional, the best practice is for all parties to agree freely and explicitly.

Professional respect is an ethical practice. Attendees at CHA events should comport themselves according to the values of non-discrimination, dignity, and courtesy. They should also acknowledge the rights of all CHA members and other scholars to hold diverse values and opinions. The practice of mutual respect fosters a sustainable environment for freedom of expression and open inquiry. When a culture of mutual respect is not maintained, our profession suffers by the voices we lose and the diminished reach of the voices that remain.

The CHA views harassment as a form of discrimination and misconduct by which the harasser asserts a relationship of power over the harassed through behaviour that causes feelings of fear or distress. Harassment implies that an individual is not worthy of respect and that the views and person of that individual hold little or no value. Harassment may be overt or subtle, public or private, in-person or online, sexual or otherwise. All forms of harassment hurt the individual, the organization, and the profession in far-reaching and long-standing ways.

Harassment can result from a single significant eposide, or a pattern of lesser episodes. Though such acts – which may be directed towards members of any marginalized group – may seem minor to the one who commits them, the target may be on the receiving end of a constant barrage.  Scholarly organizations in Canada, including the CHA, have histories that have resulted in some scholars being better represented than others. We should take special care to use our meetings to welcome and come to understand in more depth the richness that diversity brings to our organization. In a professional space, microaggressions undermine mutual respect and equitable exchange of ideas; all members should strive for self-awareness so as to avoid such behaviour.

Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to unwanted sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature; offensive or suggestive jokes or remarks; inappropriate personal questions or conversations; unwelcome or nonconsensual physical contact, such as patting, hugging, or touching; display of sexually explicit, offensive, or demeaning images except for scholarly analysis; leering or ogling; sexual remarks about someone’s clothing or body; repeated requests for dates after having been told no; and retaliatory behaviour.

The CHA has developed a Harassment Policy to outline the formal response to complaints.

Bullying includes 1) intentional aggression, physical, verbal, or social in nature, direct or indirect; 2) a power imbalance between aggressor and victim, distinguishing bullying from other forms of peer aggression; and 3) either a single serious incident or repeated incidents.

Bullying may include refusal to recognize diverse cultural meanings and personal constructions of work, work environments, and interpersonal relationships based on race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender expression, nationality, language, religion, career stage, and other dimensions and intersections of difference. The CHA considers doxxing, outing, and online harassment or stalking antithetical to its core values. In a professional setting, such as at CHA-sponsored events, bullying of any sort can be considered workplace violence. In academia, the workplace includes the expanded space of conferences, digital communication, publication forums, and the like. New, virtual workspaces are increasingly exposed to cyber bullying, sexual harassment, stalking, threats, and other forms of interpersonal violence.

Social Media
The CHA asks that attendees of CHA-sponsored events observe the principles of consent and respect when using social media. Express permission to post or tweet conference speakers’ work, images, and audio or video recordings must be secured in advance through session organizers or presiders. Speakers reserve all rights to their work and related materials; unauthorized reproduction on social media or elsewhere is a form of plagiarism. The CHA Annual Conference hashtag is a representation of both the CHA and members using it; as such, the virtual medium is an extension of the professional space. Due to its immediacy and brevity, live-tweeting or blogging must strive for accuracy and avoid misrepresentation, misappropriation, harassment, and misunderstanding. Members participating in online conversations or public forums pertinent to annual meetings should practice respect and collegiality.

The CHA will not take breaches of professional or ethical behaviour lightly. Following the CHA’s Harassment Policy, any violations of these policies should be reported to the CHA Executive.

[1] https://www.medievalacademy.org/resource/resmgr/pdfs/professional_behavior_policy.pdf, accessed 19 Feb. 2020. Adaptation by permission of the Medieval Academy of America.
[2] Please also see the CHA Statement on Research Ethics https://cha-shc.ca/english/about-the-cha/statement-on-research-ethics.html.