Changes to SfN Ethics Policy and Code of Conduct Aim to Support Scientific Dialogue and Foster Welcoming Community
As a leader in the scientific society community, SfN is committed to supporting discovery and scientific dialogues, and to fostering a welcoming community in which all scientists are able to contribute fully. Following discussions at the Fall meeting, SfN’s Council approved a set of changes and enhancements to SfN’s Ethics Policy and Code of Conduct.
Enhancing the Overall Experience at the Annual Meeting
In considering further ways to be more inclusive and continue to enhance spaces and services for meeting attendees the Society contacted the three convention centers where it hosts its meetings – San Diego Convention Center, McCormick Place in Chicago, and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. to communicate about the need to be more accommodating to working mothers and shared views from the neuroscience community. In addition to the offering of onsite childcare since 2009, allowing for frequent check-ins from parents, SfN has updated the support it offers to breastfeeding mothers in its infant care room. With the addition of changing tables and electricity for breast pumps, the Society is providing a more comfortable experience for working mothers in attendance at the annual meeting and making a concerted effort to plan a more family-friendly event. Additionally, for the second year in a row, SfN provided real-time captioning in the main lecture hall for attendees who may be hearing impaired.
As Council reflected on SfN’s previous discussions and organizational values, there was strong agreement that sexual and gender harassment, and other harassing or harmful behaviors are contrary to the scientific enterprise and put the entire scientific endeavor at risk. To that end, Council approved adding sexual and gender harassment, and other harassing or harmful behaviors to the SfN Ethics Policy, affirming that these behaviors are tantamount to scientific misconduct and unacceptable. These behaviors were also added to SfN’s Code of Conduct, which SfN expects all members of the society and all attendees at SfN-organized events are expected to adhere to in order to create a healthy environment for scientific progress and exchange.
The following are additional changes that will be instituted as part of the new SfN policy:
- A link to the SfN Ethics Policy is now included on the nomination page for SfN Awards and Prizes and the Call for Nominations for officers, councilors, or committee members. All members and volunteers of the Society are expected to comply.
- When inviting members to run for officer or councilor positions, the SfN President will discuss the SfN Ethics Policy and 1.) ask the individual to review and sign off acknowledging SfN’s Policy and 2.) ask whether the individual is aware of any credible accusations or complaints of misconduct as defined in the SfN Ethics Policy.
- In the event of a disclosure, the SfN President would review the disclosure with the Secretary and make a determination as to whether the disclosure is contrary to the values outlined in SfN’s strategic plan and Ethics Policy and thus should be brought to a discussion of the Council/Executive Committee for a decision on whether the individual should be included on the ballot for election.
- In the event of an allegation of harassment at an SfN-organized event, SfN will continue to document and refer allegations to the accused attendee’s organization for its review and sole determination regarding possible actions.
- In extraordinary circumstances SfN Council may expel from the Society a member whose actions are counter to the purposes of the Society.
- In the event that credible findings of misconduct are brought forward concerning an SfN member, officer, councilor, committee member, invited speaker, or award recipient, the SfN Council would reserve the right to withhold or revoke the membership, volunteer leadership position, invitation, or award. The decision to withhold or revoke the membership, volunteer leadership position, or award would require a discussion and unanimous vote of a quorum of the SfN Council.
SfN values the participation of all members and attendees at SfN-organized events and encourages attendees to report unwelcome or unsafe experiences so that we can create a productive and professionally enriching scientific environment.