Over the past fourteen years, Aspiration has convened and co-organized almost 600 highly interactive events in over 50 countries across the globe.
Regardless of the topic or purpose of any event, our primary goal in all the meetings we help to convene is to establish an inclusive and safe space in which participants can collaborate and build trust relationships that strengthen organizations, projects, networks and movements.
Central to this approach are our Participant Guidelines, which convey how all those present are expected to respect and interact with one another and within the meeting context.
We implement our Participant Guidelines within the following process for establishing and maintaining inclusive and safe spaces.
As a US-based NGO working globally, we strive to be mindful and avoid acting in ways that unproductively project our values and norms into other cultural contexts, communities or regions.
Because we work with a diverse set of communities and types of participants, our guidelines are constructed with attention to a number of factors:
- Simple, clear and easy to both understand and apply, for native and non-native English speakers.
- Humanized and personable, and explicitly phrased to avoid sounding legalistic or authoritarian. This is in particular out of sensitivity those who identify with oppressive or authoritarian regimes, or who have been victims of police and legal systems.
- Easy to localize, in order to support participation in multiple languages and ease the work of those who serve as interpreters.
We approach our efforts to establish inclusive, safe and open meetings as an ongoing learning effort. We update our guidelines and associated processes whenever we identify issues or areas for improvement.
When organizing events, we operationalize the Participant Guidelines with the following steps:
- We review the guidelines with other organizers and partners, in order to confirm that they are both complete and culturally appropriate. When working with partners and communities operating within other governance models, values frameworks, or codes of conduct, we work to harmonize and unify what is presented to meeting participants.
- We work to make sure participants are aware of and understand the guidelines both before and during the meeting.
- We identify points of contacts for participants to engage regarding the guidelines and the event. This includes explicitly identifying meeting organizers, working groups and/or specific participants who will serve as those points of contact.
- We also make sure to provide at least one secure messaging option, and welcome all involved to propose or request additional communications options.
- We insure participants are clear on how to contact meeting organizers and escalate any issues with both problematic or inappropriate participant behavior as well as to discuss the guidelines themselves.
- We agree with other organizers on how issues that are raised will be responded to, addressed in timely manner, resolved and communicated to all involved parties.
- We debrief after the meeting to review any issues as well as how the overall process worked.