In alignment with our vision to create a world in which no individual is given less than full moral consideration, Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) understands that we must first provide full moral consideration to the many people who share this vision and who do the important work of making it a reality.
As such, ACE is committed to providing a safe and respectful working environment that fosters dignity, courteous conduct, mutual respect, fairness, equality, diversity, inclusion, and positive communication and collaboration.
ACE explicitly prohibits harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, and other forms of disrespectful behavior.
Since these and other terms can mean different things to different people, we have sought to define the terms in this policy to help ensure that we have a common understanding. That said, defining terms can be challenging, and as such, we encourage everyone to ask questions when something is unclear. Based on your feedback and our own ongoing learning, the Operations Director will seek to update our definitions and our policy periodically to ensure that it is as clear as possible.
In addition, as a growing global organization that works in areas where some definitions are informed by the law (which can differ significantly among countries), ACE is committed to applying the broadest definitions of these terms, regardless of where someone may live. In other words, we are deeply committed to creating and maintaining an organizational culture that goes well above what the law might require, so that we can work toward a culture that respects everyone.
- Definitions of relevant terms
- Details on how the policy will be issued and what training is provided to help ensure that the policy is understood
- Outline of the various responsibilities within ACE in prioritizing respectful communications, the routes of resolution that are available to anyone who feels that the policy may have been violated, and steps to be taken if the policy is indeed violated
- Confidentiality and record keeping, and how the policy will be kept current
Definitions of Relevant Terms
ACE Team Members
This term refers to all ACE employees (including contracted employees), fellows (interns), and board members.
A Manager is any ACE Team Member who manages other ACE Team Members.
A Director is any ACE Team Member who leads a competency area (e.g., communications, programs, development, finance, and operations).
This term refers to anyone who serves ACE in any of the following capacities: advisory board member, donor, partner, consultant, vendor, volunteer, supporter, and all others with whom ACE Team Members may interact while fulfilling the duties of their jobs. ACE Clients are not bound by the policy in the same way as ACE Team Members because they are largely external and outside of ACE’s direct purview. Still, ACE will approach any situation that arises between an ACE Team Member and an ACE Client with the same gravity as internal matters and proceed in the most reasonable and appropriate manner under the circumstances.
The ACE Workplace refers to any physical or virtual space where ACE work occurs. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, any place where we gather for work-related events, social calls, and optional meetings or staff retreats. It also includes social media and other online platforms, such as the Effective Altruism Forum (EA Forum), where ACE Team Members interact. In other words, the Workplace is any space where you are present due to your work with ACE, even outside of work hours.
ACE uses the term Individual Characteristics to refer to the unique characteristics of an individual, such as their race, color, religion, ancestry, marital status, family status, sex, sexual orientation, age, political belief, physical or mental disability, body size, gender or gender expression, pregnancy or parental status, national origin, citizenship, ancestry, caste, veteran status, genetic information, and other such characteristics. As previously noted, ACE has adopted a very broad definition of this term that supersedes the law in order to provide the greatest protections for our valued ACE Team Members.
ACE’s definition of Harassment includes bullying, intimidation, and nonsexual harassment (whether physical, verbal, or nonverbal) that has the effect of upsetting, demeaning, humiliating, intimidating, or threatening an ACE Team Member. Harassment usually affects an ACE Team Member’s ability to perform their job as best as possible. It can also affect an individual’s dignity and self-respect. Harassment can occur between coworkers and between ACE Managers, Directors, and Team Members. Sexual harassment is defined separately below.
- Aggression or yelling
- Insulting or derogatory comments that may or may not relate to a person’s Individual Characteristics
- Physical abuse or threats of abuse
- Verbal or written threats
- Humiliation, such as subjecting someone to unwelcome jokes or ridicule
- Displaying offensive material in public or private channels
- Offensive jokes or comments about a person’s Individual Characteristics
- Epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping
- Threats of firing or demotion
- Regularly excluding an individual from social events, including online social gatherings or work-related meetings
- Removing job responsibilities without reasonable justification
Sexual Harassment, a form of Harassment, includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature in the Workplace. Sexual Harassment does not always have to be specifically about sexual behavior or directed at a specific ACE Team Member. For example, negative comments about women as a group may be a form of Sexual Harassment. Sexual Harassment also includes gender-related Harassment, which is defined as negative treatment of, or hostility toward, an individual on the basis of gender, gender expression, or family status.
- Requests for sexual favors
- Verbal harassment of a sexual nature, including jokes or comments referring to sexual acts or sexual orientation
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Discussing sexual relations/stories/fantasies
- Physical acts of sexual assault
- Unwanted touching or physical contact
- Making conditions of employment or advancement dependent on sexual favors, either explicitly or implicitly
- Exposing oneself or performing sexual acts on oneself
- Pressuring someone into sexual engagement
- Unwanted sexually explicit photos, emails, or text messages
Discrimination refers to differential treatment of, exclusion of, or hostility toward an individual on the basis of their Individual Characteristics.
As noted above, ACE observes a very broad definition of these Individual Characteristics that goes above and beyond what is required by law in the various countries where we work. Some of the other Individual Characteristics that we observe are socioeconomic status, lifestyle and dietary choices, and other belief or identity-based expression.
ACE is committed to ensuring that our Workplace is as respectful as possible. As such, we realize that some behaviors can have the effect of creating an unpleasant work environment, even though they may not fall under one of the categories listed above, and even though they may not be related to any of the Individual Characteristics listed above.
Examples of Disrespectful Behavior could include repeatedly interrupting other ACE Team Members during conversations or meetings, disregarding others’ opinions, taking credit for others’ work, chastising or mocking others, using inflammatory language, speaking in elevated tones, and otherwise acting in a manner that harms others or our work for animals.
ACE has selected two ACE Team Members to act as Designated People (DPs). DPs have completed specialized training and are therefore uniquely positioned to support any ACE Team Member who feels that they have experienced Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and other forms of Disrespectful Behaviors. DPs also have access to various forms of specialized external support, such as the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance’s employment risk managers (ACE is a member of the Alliance), external human resources consultants, and external legal counsel.
- Samantha Berscht, People Operations Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, (001) 403-990-3163
- Max Taylor, Researcher, email@example.com, +44 (0)7814 153923
Policy Issuance and Training
ACE provides this policy to all new ACE Team Members at the time of their onboarding and to all ACE Team Members on an annual basis. ACE may choose to reissue the policy at other times, if necessary. ACE Team Members will be asked to sign a document indicating that they have read and understood the policy at least once annually.
In addition, ACE provides training to all ACE Team Members periodically. The Operations Director is responsible for ensuring that training is scheduled and that Team Members are in attendance.
ACE also provides this policy to certain ACE Clients, so that they know more about our values and our expectations about their behavior when interacting with our ACE Team Members.
When a new ACE Team Member joins, they will be provided with a recorded training session to watch as part of their onboarding requirements.
Creating and maintaining a respectful Workplace requires the cooperation and support of everyone at ACE—we are all responsible to one another!
ACE Board of Directors
The overarching responsibility to ensure that ACE builds and maintains a workplace that is based on respect is that of the ACE Board of Directors (Board). As such, the Board has carefully reviewed this policy and is deeply committed to be available to each ACE Team Member should they have any questions or concerns.
ACE Managers, Directors, and DPs
It is very important for ACE Managers, Directors, and DPs to set a positive example for all ACE Team Members and ACE Clients. In addition, ACE Managers, Directors, and DPs have an added obligation to address any issue in the Workplace that they may have witnessed, or anything that they may have been made aware of, that could rise to the level of Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, or other Disrespectful Behavior.
ACE Team Members
Since it is not possible for ACE Managers, Directors, or DPs to be aware of all interactions in the Workplace, we ask all ACE Team Members who become aware of any form of conduct that contravenes this policy—even if they are not directly involved—to let an ACE Manager, Director, or DP know.
Another option available to ACE Team Members who witness Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination or other Disrespectful Behavior is to speak up if possible. That said, we know that this can be difficult to do, so if speaking up does not feel comfortable or safe, please speak to an ACE Manager, Director, or DP.
ACE would also like to be very clear that retaliation against an ACE Team Member for coming forward about any issue of possible Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, or other Disrespectful Behavior or for participating in an inquiry or investigation constitutes a serious violation of this policy and will be subject to disciplinary action.
Retaliation will not be tolerated, regardless of who is involved. If you are subject to or become aware of a retaliatory act, please report it to any ACE Manager, Director, or DP. Retaliation claims will be taken as seriously as a claim of Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination or other Disrespectful Behavior. While retaliation can take on many forms, it might include a demotion, a reduction in pay, and/or denying someone a raise or a promotion.
It is important to note that deliberate false accusations are a serious matter that may result in disciplinary action. That said, an unproven allegation does not mean that the conduct did not occur or that the allegation was deliberately false—it may simply mean that there was not enough evidence to determine the veracity of the claim or proceed further at that time.
Routes of Resolution
There are multiple options for you to consider when resolving any issues that may arise. We cannot stress more strongly that it is not important how you move forward in resolving any challenges, what is important is that you do move forward. We genuinely want you to speak up so that we can support you and continue to ensure a healthy and respectful Workplace for all.
We also wish to make it abundantly clear that anyone can bring a situation to the attention of any ACE Manager, Director, or DP. You are not required to only speak to your direct ACE Manager or Director.
Below are some suggestions regarding the various routes of resolution.
An ACE Team Member may attempt to resolve their concerns by direct communication with the person(s) engaging in the unwelcome conduct. If you feel comfortable doing so, you are encouraged to communicate your disapproval in clear terms to the person(s) whose conduct or comments were offensive.
We suggest that if you choose this method, you record all perceived incidents as they occur, no matter how small, as such records are helpful for providing context if the unwelcome behavior is repeated or if there is a need for further inquiries or investigations. We also suggest that your records include the date, time, details of the conduct, and witnesses, if any.
Lastly, as part of self-action, it is important for you to inform a Manager, Director, or DP of what has occurred. That does not necessarily mean that anyone will get involved, especially if your self-action ended the conduct. It only means that the organization is aware of what occurred in the event that the action was part of a pattern of behavior (e.g., others have reported similar occurrences).
Support and Intervention
In addition to letting someone know, ACE Team Members are also encouraged to seek advice from one of the DPs, whether or not they have already engaged in self-action.
- Ensuring that you and your coworker are safe
- Recording the dates, times, and facts about the incident(s)
- Collecting relevant information, such as emails or voicemails
- Helping explore available options for resolution
- Discussing next steps
- Working through the resolution process
- Ensuring that the resolution process is completed as promptly and confidentially as possible
If the problematic person is a DP, you should approach the other DP, the ED, or ACE’s Board/Staff Liaison and RiTW representative, currently Galina Hale: firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 415-418-8446.
On occasion, ACE will undertake a formal investigation into matters that may violate this policy. In these instances, the investigation will be conducted by one of the DPs or by a qualified external party, such as a human resources professional or a lawyer. The investigator will work to gather as many details as possible, including the date(s), time(s), descriptions of the incident(s), and witnesses, if any. The investigator may also consult with others, interview various people, and review any materials (such as emails and texts) that may be appropriate. Both DPs and the Board/Staff Liaison will always be made aware of any formal investigation happening at ACE.
The investigator will then provide recommendations regarding the appropriate resolution to the other parties who have been consulted during the process. This may include DPs, Directors, ACE’s Executive Director, and the Board of Directors, as capacity allows. Final decisions regarding resolutions will be made internally at ACE and involve no less than two individuals from the above groups.
Please note that during the course of an investigation, ACE may implement interim measures with the express purpose of protecting all parties.
Steps in Case of Policy Violation
If an ACE Team Member is found to be in violation of this policy, they will face disciplinary action. While no policy can prescribe what should be done on every occasion because circumstances vary, disciplinary actions will be determined regardless of one’s title or position. These actions may include (but are not limited to) a referral to counseling, mandatory training, a verbal or written warning, a written reprimand, a withholding of a promotion or a pay increase, a reduction in wages, demotion, reassignment, suspension without pay, or termination.
Confidentiality and Record-Keeping
Incidents of Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and other forms of Disrespectful Behavior will be kept as confidential as reasonably possible. Some information may need to be shared during the course of an inquiry or investigation, particularly with the DPs or with an external advisor such as a human resources professional or lawyer.
In all cases, records are kept in a confidential file under the purview of the DPs (unless there is a conflict of interest with one of those parties, in which case the other DP will keep a private file for that particular claim). In addition, the Board/Staff Liaison will also have access to the file to increase oversight and accountability.
This policy will be reviewed once a year by the ACE Board of Directors, and as changes are made, the revised version will be issued to all ACE Team Members and ACE Clients as appropriate.
This policy was last reviewed and approved on January 20, 2023.