Two months ago we published a statement announcing the resignation of Ali K Bangi following public allegations of sexual assault and forcible confinement. This was the first time we had heard about these allegations. We were left with many questions and concerns about how this might impact our work, our team and our communities. And we began reflecting on what happened and how as an organization, we can establish and uphold exemplary standards of conduct for our team.
With this in mind, in December 2017, we started working with Coda Societies, a systems change specialist organization that drives the design and development of people centered infrastructures, public policies and organizations. Coda Societies’ innovative approach to systems change is aligned with our values and the organizational culture we envision.
As an organization dedicated to freedom of access to information and values of human rights, we hold ourselves accountable to high standards of conduct to serve our mission and communities. Since 2012, our team has grown to more than twenty individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds and identities. As we grew, we started to introduce and follow formal human resource policies. However, we recognize the need to continually improve them and establish robust systems to ensure transparency and accountability within our organization.
We are working closely with Coda Societies to develop a holistic organizational process tailored to our unique multicultural work environment and designed to support long-lasting and tangible change. We have adopted a participatory approach to ensure that our team’s input shapes our policies and procedures. This approach ensures that our team has the opportunity to contribute to this process, to take ownership of change, and lead long-term, sustainable and resilient solutions.
During our first phase, we have worked together to create space for dialogue around gender, power and cross-cultural communication within our organization. Through facilitating team-wide participatory discussions, Coda Societies is helping us redefine our understanding around these issues and implement new practices. As a team, we have also engaged in facilitated group workshops to discuss and redefine concepts such as, inclusion, accountability, sexism and discrimination according to our values. These group dialogues will shape the future of our organizational ethos, code of conduct and practices.
In the coming weeks, we will share key highlights from the first phase of our collaboration, which include a review of our organizational culture, practices and one-on-one conversations with our team. Based on these outcomes, we will work together to produce a roadmap for the coming months. The future work will include a review and improvement of our Code of Conduct, our organizational and management structure, and mechanisms for community members and former employees to contribute feedback to our process. We want to be transparent and accountable, while balancing this with respect for individual privacy.
We are committed to fostering a safe, diverse and inclusive workplace that is free of discrimination and harassment. ASL19 promotes a productive and safe work environment and does not condone any verbal or physical conduct by an employee which harasses, discriminates against, or negatively interferes with another’s work performance or which creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment.
We look forward to continuing our work with our partners and experts as we translate our values and commitment into practice in our workplace, including those of safety and inclusiveness for all. Thank you to everyone who has kindly offered resources, advice and their support throughout this process.
Anna May, Co-Director
Fereidoon Bashar, Co-Director