Don’t call me ‘darling’

Yes, it is a term of endearment, but is it really appropriate in a business environment?

The answer is: no, it’s not.

And, unless you know me really well, or are a really good friend or in an actual relationship with me, I don’t want to hear it from you.

The gender divide is such a big issue, and it will never cease to be unless we stop sweeping the little things under the carpet.

The big news out of the entertainment media have reignited the issue and there’s no denying that some “attention seeking” people have taken the opportunity to try to steal the limelight (yes, I’m talking about the #metoo nonsense), but it is important to not let these issues deduct from the fact that there’s still work to do.

I watched a video on YouTube yesterday about how some opportunistic people are taking these scandals to the next level with verbose rhetoric to bring attention to their political causes. That is also disturbing and if you are a normal man, reading this thinking “here we go, more man bashing” — please give it a chance. It’s not that at all.

We need to be able to work together and be comfortable with each other. Joke and laugh together, produce great work and build amazing companies.

Last year, I quit a job I had been in for 7 years. It was time to quit as I wasn’t being as productive as I used to be and had no real big challenges to keep me interested. However, the thing that tipped me over was harassment.

We were at our annual conference gala night, and I stopped to chat with one of our suppliers, a man in his 60s. He mentioned that I would look better in a costume that showed my legs. I dismissed and said that wearing pants was comfortable and I was working. I started to leave, and he put his arm around my shoulder and said to me

“you looked great on stage introducing the director, I wish there were poles there, so you could give us a show.”

I’ve nothing against exotic dancers, that’s a personal choice, but…

What the fuck!

I left him standing there and never spoke to him again. Except for a polite hello, when I couldn’t avoid it. The worst part: nothing was done. It was shrugged as “ah, that’s how he is, you can’t take it seriously”.

Excuse me, yes I can.

I was dismissed by my manager and two other colleagues I spoke to about the incident. One of them even said “that’s nothing, you should’ve heard what he told one of the girls in the accounts team”.

“He was drunk” — not an excuse;

“That’s just how he is” — get some therapy;

“You can’t take that seriously” — yes, I can, I’m a serious person;

“He means well” — no, he doesn’t.

What is it about our culture that makes us (men and women) think that this kind of behaviour should be tolerated?

The IT industry is full of men lost between last century’s “accepted behaviour” and the new era of equality.

I’m not talking about being approached by a man and asked on a date, or receiving a compliment. These are nice things.

If my boyfriend hadn’t told me my leggings were really cool when he first met me (at a marketing meetup), we wouldn’t have talked about movies, wouldn’t have had a first date, wouldn’t be together 3 years later.

I’m talking about men who behave inappropriately and don’t take responsibility for their actions. Also, I’m talking about not speaking up.

The problem gets worse when we don’t stand up for ourselves.

Here’s an example of something that happened at a meetup recently.

A woman, who is a regular at the meetups I organise (Blockchain Professsionals and BitcoinSYD) attended a new meetup about cryptocurrencies. It’s a new group, recently started and growing fast.

During the event the MC’s attitude towards another woman who was making a comment made her feel uncomfortable. Afterwards, she approached the other woman and asked her about it.

She told me, if the woman had said she didn’t feel upset, she would’ve let go. However, the woman confirmed she indeed felt upset and that being interrupted and told to no longer speak made her feel belittled.

Together, they went to reason with the MC, to let him know how they were feeling. The response was aggressive, he said to her:

“this is my meetup, it is like my living room and I will talk whichever way I want. If you don’t like it, you should leave and not come back”

Next day, when she posted on the meetup board her “not so stellar” feedback about the meetup, and explained the situation to the other two organisers, her comments were deleted and she was removed from the group.

That is not okay.

A community can’t be built on misogyny, unless of course it is a community of misogynists, which I know to not be this case. When I took the issue to other meetup organisers, they all saw where things went wrong.

The men/women attendance ratio in the local meetups is 90/10. Sometimes less, usually I can count 5 women in the crowd. Misogynist pigs who ban women will not help change that.

I expect that the community leaders of today, especially those in my communities, are tolerant and welcoming.

Our meetup code of conduct is a testament to the commitment of all our organisers to the whole community.

Blockchain Professionals, BitcoinSyd, SydEthereum* and bitfwd** 
Code of Conduct

Scope 
All attendees, speakers, sponsors and volunteers at our meetup are required to comply with the following code of conduct. If you do not wish to comply, you are not permitted to attend meetup events.

Policy 
Our meetup provides a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of any personal characteristics protected under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986.

We do not tolerate harassment of meetup participants in any form, including disruptions of talks or events or unwanted physical contact.

Sexual language, imagery, or jokes are not appropriate for any talk, workshop, party, or social media. Language or imagery which belittles individuals based on personal characteristics protected under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 is also prohibited.

Our meetups are safe environments for the expression of personal work and ideas. Participants are required to provide feedback in a positive manner. Ridicule, bullying or personal embarrassment will not be tolerated.

Meetup participants violating these rules will be sanctioned or expelled from the meetup or event without a refund at the discretion of the meetup organisers.

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a meetup organizer immediately.

My vision for blockchain meetups in Sydney (and Australia) is one where events have more intelligent women who feel they can speak their minds. Where men and women are treated equally and with mutual respect and have a great time together, learning from each other and helping each other out.

There majority of meetups are like that already. Let’s keep it that way, shall we?

  • Update 1: The SydEthereum leadership team has also added the above code of conduct to their meetup. Take the pledge too! Ping me, after adding the code of conduct, and I’ll add your meetup to this post.
  • Update 2: The bitfwd leadership team also added the above code to their blockathon event.