ABA Code of Conduct for all Association Meetings and Events

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ABA Code of Conduct (updated November 2023)

ABA is committed to antiracism, equity, access, and representation. ABA is also committed to being more inclusive, and we value the dignity and diversity of everyone in our community. 

To that end, ABA strives for safer events and a safer community and workplace as well as an enjoyable experience for everyone involved with ABA’s work, both in-person and virtually. We use the terms “safer” and “more inclusive” to indicate that these conditions are not perfectible but a continuous effort. ABA is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience and environment for everyone, regardless of race; sex; national origin; religion (or lack thereof); age; ethnicity; color; gender; gender identity and/or expression; neurodiversity; sexual orientation; marital, civil union, or domestic partnership status; past or present military service; physical, mental, or sensory disability; national, social, or ethnic origin; pregnancy; family or parental status and/or genetic information (including family medical history); physical appearance; or technology choices. We do not tolerate harassment, discrimination, or other unwelcome or unlawful behavior on the basis of any of these characteristics. Harassment includes but is not limited to:

  • Offensive verbal comments related to, or that reinforce social structures of dominations related to, any protected category above
  • Inappropriate, unwanted, and/or unsolicited physical contact
  • Sexual propositions or posted/texted sexual images
  • Unwelcome sexual attention or comments
  • Off-color or obscene jokes, remarks, or gestures
  • Any other words or conduct of a sexual nature that makes the recipient or observer uncomfortable
  • Deliberate intimidation, stalking, or following
  • Sustained disruption of talks or other events
  • Unwelcome photography or recording
  • Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behavior.

ABA also takes every precaution to make our virtual events safer and harassment-free for participants by requiring registration, using passwords, monitoring chats, and/or using best safety practices for the virtual platforms we utilize.

All ABA virtual and in-person event attendees and organizers, including but not limited to booksellers, ABA staff, exhibitors, vendors, authors, publishers, speakers/presenters, guests, sponsors, volunteers, and hotel/venue staff, as well as third parties directly related to our events, are expected to comply with ABA's code of conduct, refraining from all forms of harassment, as outlined below, and showing respect and courtesy to everyone involved in ABA events. This same expectation applies to all ABA interactions and working relationships.

ABA takes any violation of this policy very seriously. Accordingly, participants who violate this policy can, in the judgment and discretion of ABA, be blocked or expelled from an ABA event, without refund if applicable; can be prevented from attending future ABA events; and/or can have ABA membership revoked after notification to the member, opportunity for the member to respond, and review by the ABA Board.

If you are being harassed, observe someone else being harassed, or have concerns about potential violations of this policy, please notify ABA staff immediately. In the case of an in-person emergency, call 911, hotel/venue security, and/or a community safety alternative as provided by ABA for each event, whichever feels safest for you. In all other cases, whether virtual or in-person, if an appropriate ABA representative is not readily available, email [email protected], or text that email address, and ABA will respond to you as soon as possible. ABA will take all appropriate action to protect anyone affected by violations of this policy.

All reports are confidential except to the extent that the ABA staff person taking a report may need to involve other event staff or ABA management to ensure that a report is properly managed and that the appropriate action is taken to protect the individual reporting a violation, or others. All efforts will be made to keep reports confidential though and the number of people involved in following up on any reports will be limited as much as possible. ABA will only involve law enforcement or security at a victim’s request.

Since this ABA Code of Conduct also protects ABA staff, staff members may choose these same avenues to report violations they experience themselves, or ABA staff may choose to contact ABA board members, ABA’s HR vendor at [email protected], or ABA’s Anonymous HR & Compliance Hotline (for ABA staff-only) at www.lighthouse-services.com/bookweb, (855) 222-0283, or via email at [email protected].

ABA recognizes that although some behavior may not be intended as harassment and may not be considered harassment by some, comments or actions that subtly and often unconsciously and unintentionally express prejudice against a marginalized group or a bias towards groups with the most power, also known as “microaggressions,” can still have a negative impact and may prevent an event from feeling inclusive to all.

ABA will treat these incidents as educational opportunities rather than violations, following up with the person who committed the microaggression to discuss the impact of their actions with the goal of ensuring that everyone is supporting an inclusive environment. ABA believes these can be opportunities to help our community grow together toward the goal of equity and inclusivity. Only repeated microaggressions after discussion and education may be considered harassment. Examples of microaggressions may include statements such as the following: (This list, provided by diverse individuals in the ABA community, is in no way exhaustive but offers specific examples to illustrate the point.)

  • “You speak English so well” to a person of color
  • “I know a lot about Asian/Latinx/Indigenous/Black culture and I didn’t find that racist at all” spoken by a white person
  • “You” or “This is so exotic” spoken to a person of color
  • “Where are you from? Where are you really from? Originally.” to a person of color
  • “Are you sure you’re Chinese? You look Korean.”
  • “Hola, chica” to a Latinx woman by a non-Latinx person
  • “Your hair is so cool. Can I touch it?” to a Black person spoken by a non-Black person
  • “You’re so inspiring” spoken to a Disabled Person
  • “I never would have known you used to be a girl” spoken to a transgender person.
  • “LGB...whatever.”
  • Speaking loudly to someone merely because they speak with an accent
  • Using common idioms like “off the reservation” or “sold down the river” that reference violence and racism
  • Repeated use of incorrect pronouns

Code of conduct violations as well as microaggressions may be reported to anyone on the ABA team directly, or via email or text to [email protected]. ABA will respond to you as soon as possible.

The ABA team will enforce this code of conduct in all areas of ABA’s work, including at in-person events, virtual events, and ABA workspaces. We appreciate your assistance in making ABA welcoming to all and supporting ABA’s commitment to antiracism, equity, representation, and access. 

About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.


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