Updates to RWA's Code of Ethics and Forum Rules

At the RWA2019 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Listening session and in communications with members, the Board of Directors has heard a consistent call for more accountability for those RWA members who engage in behavior that runs counter to RWA’s governing principles and documents. We wanted you to know that we heard you. As this Board year comes to a close, we would like to provide some information about the changes we made over the last few months, as well as advise you about potential upcoming changes. Please note, you can view specific policy changes in the minutes from the July Board Meeting (login required). 

Code of Ethics

The Board added violations of the following RWA policies and certain other acts as matters over which the Code of Ethics, and by extension, the Ethics Committee, have jurisdiction:

  • Anti-discrimination policy (see Section 6.1 of the Policy Manual
  • Forum rules (see Section 15.8 of the Policy Manual)
  • Social media policy (see Section 15.9 of the Policy Manual)
  • Antitrust violations of a repeated and intentional nature
  • Harassment (as defined in the Conference Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy) and other actions of a repeated or intentional nature
The Board further recognized that there are some ethics actions for which the appropriate complaining party might be RWA, not an individual member. For those actions, the RWA President may now file the complaint on behalf of RWA against a member. All other requirements as to evidence and proving the case still apply.

When determining if the Chapter Code of Conduct or the Code of Ethics, or both, apply in a matter, the Board added some guidance. The Board also streamlined the timing of the complaint and response in an ethics matter to promote fairness and clarity.

Forum Rules

The Board expanded the forum rules to prohibit:

  • Harassment, as defined in the Conference Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy
  • Invidious discrimination, as defined in RWA’s anti-discrimination policy
  • Posts in violation of antitrust laws

Upcoming Changes and Matters Under Ongoing Review

  • The Code of Ethics currently exempts certain conduct and statements if they occur on non-RWA social media. There are reasons for that limitation, but we have turned this issue over to RWA’s lawyer to determine if, as social media has changed and expanded, this exemption should be rewritten or eliminated and what the parameters of new rules would look like.
  • With the exception of the DEI Listening Forum, the RWA forums currently are unmoderated, except informally. The new RWA website allows for community forum moderation. Posters can tag potentially problematic posts and send them to moderation for further review. We are investigating the system, figuring out how to limit the accidental or improper moderation of non-problematic posts, and how it will work with members who are on digest.  The plan is to roll out this new moderation method on a trial basis in early September on the PAN forum.

While we know these changes will not solve every problem, we are hopeful that this is a productive start in providing more accountability in RWA, as you have requested. If you have additional suggestions or concerns, please contact me at president@RWA.org

Respectfully yours, 

HelenKay Dimon, President
On behalf of the RWA Board of Directors