The Skylight Code of Conduct is one of the ways we put Skylight’s values into practice. It’s built around creating a culture where people work joyfully, communicate openly about things that matter, and collaborate effectively in service to our clients. To do that, our Code of Conduct acknowledges the current and broader historical contexts of racism, sexism, economic inequality, social injustice, and political injustice. We have a responsibility as a company — and as individuals — to hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards and to be an actor for broader social change. To that end, Skylight adheres to the following principles:
As a baseline, we follow all Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws. We expect everyone who works at Skylight, attends Skylight events and meetings, or participates in online forums or other virtual collaboration to follow this code of conduct and the EEO laws. This applies to all of our methods of communication: office chat rooms, commit messages, email, and both formal and informal conversation.
We highly encourage you to read our Code of Conduct in its entirety and follow it in both spirit and letter. If you have a question or ever think that one of your colleagues or the company as a whole may be falling short of our commitment, don’t be silent. We want — and need — to hear from you. Please reach out to us at [email protected].
Create an inclusive culture
Skylight is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for everyone — not just the classes protected in law. It’s our responsibility to understand the nature of discrimination and disadvantage that exist in our society. Discrimination and disadvantage manifest in many different and destructive ways, including racism, sexism, economic inequality, social injustice, and political injustice.
With that mutual understanding, we ask that you hold yourself to the following standards (which we adapted from the Anti-Racism Project):
- Take responsibility for what you don’t directly control, including structural racism, systemic oppression, and all forms of bias — and attempt to influence transformative change within seemingly entrenched systems.
- For example: Make sure people feel safe coming to work each day, whether it’s about taking them seriously when they tell you someone on their team really doesn’t know how to hold back on the microaggressions or helping them find ways to grow in their careers.
- Model inclusive discourse and decisions with the understanding that these behaviors have a reproductive effect and thus lead to more equitable outcomes.
- For example: Step out of your comfort zone to engage in conversations that challenge the way you see the world by exchanging stories and sharing different perspectives. Learning about other people’s lived experiences can broaden your preconceived notion of equity issues.
- Rigorously and flexibly assess your words and actions when interacting with colleagues and clients with the intention of reducing harm.
- For example: Try to practice active listening by “listening to understand” rather than “listening to respond.” Don’t assume you know or understand the experiences of marginalized communities, especially those you don’t identify with. If people share their experiences with you, be sure to affirm and validate their experiences while being mindful of the space you’re occupying.
- Engage in a cycle of action and reflection that allows you to learn from both successes and failures in order to continuously improve.
- For example: Before you start on your crusade to make your workplace a more inclusive place, it’s a good idea to look inward. Have you benefited from your own racial identity or privilege in some way at work? Who’s in your circle of trusted colleagues? When you talk to colleagues from marginalized backgrounds, do you only talk to them about identity-based issues?
- Set personal learning goals and cultivate your emotional intelligence with regards to your knowledge about discrimination, inequity, and bias.
- For example: Subscribe to newsletters from nonprofits focused on equity and diversify your news outlets to include different viewpoints and ideologies.
To help create an inclusive culture, we’re also committed to a diverse team environment. We know that diversity fosters innovation. Diverse teams are creative teams. We need diversity to create meaningful solutions for our clients. While we acknowledge that diversity is not a cure all, it’s important that we prioritize making Skylight a workplace that reflects a wide array of people and perspectives. As a company working within the civic tech space, we commit to building a team and community that reflects the diversity of America.
Consider what you can do to encourage and support others. Make room for quieter voices to contribute. Offer support and enthusiasm for great ideas. Leverage the low cost of experimentation to support your colleagues’ ideas, and take care to acknowledge the original source, not just the most recent or loudest contributor. When someone offers something unexpected, look for ways you can contribute and collaborate. Share your knowledge and skills. Prioritize access for and input from those who are traditionally excluded from the civic process.
Moreover, empower yourself. Recognize that implicit bias has the potential to be harmful in the workplace. Explore your own subconscious thoughts, beliefs, and stereotypes, and hold yourself accountable to not being implicitly biased, especially when participating in hiring activities such as interviewing. Acknowledge your mistakes and give others the benefit of the doubt when they make mistakes. When possible, challenge the status quo and serve as a model for others to do so, encouraging others to take interpersonal risks such as speaking up when there’s a problem, sharing ideas, or trying out new solutions.
Create boundaries to your own behavior and consider how you can create spaces that help prevent unacceptable behavior by others. We don’t seek to list all cases of unacceptable behavior, but provide examples to help guide our community in thinking through how to respond when we experience these types of behavior, whether directed at ourselves or others.
If you’re unsure if something is appropriate behavior, it probably isn’t. Each person you interact with can define where that line is for them. Impact matters more than intent. Ensuring that your behavior doesn’t have a negative impact is your responsibility. Problems happen when we assume that our way of thinking or behaving is the norm or okay with everyone. This is particularly problematic when we’re in a position of power or privilege.
Here are a few examples of unacceptable behavior:
- Negative or offensive remarks regarding race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation involving transgender status/gender identity, and sex-stereotyping), national origin, age, disability (physical or mental), genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, parental status, marital status, and political affiliation as well as gender expression, mental illness, socioeconomic status or background, neuro(a)typicality, physical appearance, body size, or clothing. Consider that calling attention to differences can feel alienating.
- Touching people without their affirmative consent.
- Sustained disruption of meetings, talks, or discussions, including chat rooms.
- Patronizing language or behavior.
- Aggressive and micro-aggressive behavior, such as unconstructive criticism, providing corrections that don’t improve the conversation (sometimes expressed as “well, actually”), repeatedly interrupting or talking over someone else, feigning surprise at someone’s lack of knowledge or awareness about a topic, or subtle prejudice (for example, comments like “That’s so easy my grandmother could do it.”).
- Referring to people in a way that misidentifies their gender and/or rejects the validity of their gender identity; for instance by using incorrect pronouns or forms of address (misgendering).
- Retaliating against anyone who files a formal complaint that someone has violated these codes or EEO laws.
Please review Skylight’s Intentional Communications Policy for more guidance.
Report potential violations
Despite our best efforts, we realize that violations of this Code of Conduct may occur. We encourage and expect all employees, regardless of level, to recognize and report possible violations. Disciplinary actions for proven violations of this Code, or for retaliation against anyone who reports possible violations, will be determined on a case-by-case basis and may include termination of employment. You may report violations or concerns to your immediate supervisor, to any member of Skylight’s executive team, or to [email protected].
Skylight is greatly appreciative of 18F and the multiple sources that they drew on to build a template for this code of conduct policy. We also adapted content from 11 Anti-Racist Actions You Can Take at Work — Today and Every Day by Michelle Garcia.
Relevant legal considerations:
- Laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Types of discrimination prohibited by law
- New and proposed regulations
If we decide to change this policy, we’ll update the modification date below.
Updated: April 18, 2023