Code of Conduct and Ethics for Accessibility Standards Canada Technical Committee Members
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Coming Into Force
This Code of Conduct and Ethics (hereinafter referred to as the “Code”) came into force on October 20th 2020. The Chief Executive Officer of Accessibility Standards Canada will review the Code on an annual basis and may amend or replace it.
The purpose of the Code is to ensure a safe and positive environment by informing members of technical committees (“members”) that there is an expectation, at all times, of appropriate behaviour consistent with Accessibility Standards Canada’s core values.
- The purpose of the Code is also to provide guidance to members on how to achieve the highest standards of personal conduct and meet expectations of Accessibility Standards Canada.
- Accessibility Standards Canada supports equal opportunity, prohibits discriminatory practices, and is committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect.
Application of this Code
This Code applies to members of technical committees.
Members have a responsibility to:
- Respect, at all times, the principles and requirements of the Accessibility Standards Canada policies and procedures and this Code;
- Work in a spirit of partnership to collaborate with one another and Accessibility Standards Canada staff to align efforts to achieve the vision, mission and mandate of Accessibility Standards Canada (see Annex A – Accessibility Standards Canada Vision, Mission and Mandate);
- Resolve conflicts in a professional and civil manner on issues that may be in dispute;
- Refrain from any behaviour that constitutes harassment, where harassment is defined according to the Canadian Human Rights Commission as “a form of discrimination that involves any unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends or humiliates. Generally, harassment is a behaviour that persists over time. Serious one-time incidents can also sometimes be considered harassment”. (see Annex B – Harassment);
- Maintain and enhance the dignity and self-esteem of one another and Accessibility Standards Canada staff by:
- Demonstrating respect to individuals regardless of disability, body type, physical characteristics, age, sex, race, national or ethnic origin, colours, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, etc.;
- Directing comments or criticism appropriately and avoiding public criticism of one another and staff;
- Consistently demonstrating the spirit of respect and ethical conduct;
- Consistently treating individuals fairly and reasonably;
- Refraining from the use of power or authority in an attempt to coerce another person to engage in inappropriate activities;
- Respecting the property of others;
- Act with honesty and integrity and conduct themselves in a manner which maintains the confidence of the other members, staff and other stakeholders;
- Conduct themselves openly, professionally, lawfully, and in good faith in the best interests of their technical committee;
- Be independent and not influenced by self-interest, outside pressure, expectation of reward, or fear of criticism;
- Behave with decorum appropriate to both circumstance and position, and be fair, equitable, considerate, and honest in all dealings with others;
- When required, ensure that confidentiality of committee work is respected;
- Ensure that members are given sufficient opportunity to express opinions and that all opinions are given due consideration and weight;
- Consider the input of general, process-related, and editorial nature provided by Accessibility Standards Canada staff that are involved in the standards development process;
- Respect the decisions of the majority;
- Commit the time to attend meetings and be diligent in preparation for, participation in, and follow-up from such meetings; and,
- Provide 30 days’ notice if requesting to resign from their role on the technical committee.
The Code does not provide answers for every situation that members may encounter. Members are trusted to use good judgment in the duration of their participation on a technical committee and seek further information or assistance when required.
Conflict of Interest
Members have a responsibility to uphold and respect the values and principles set out in the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.
The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector outlines the values and expected behaviours for public servants, including valuing diversity and creating workplaces free from harassment and discrimination.
Unacceptable behaviour towards others, for example, discrimination, harassment, bullying or creating an intimidating or hostile environment, will not be tolerated and will result in the termination of membership on the technical committee(s).
A conflict of interest occurs when a member exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further their private interests or those of their relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests.
Members have a responsibility to:
- Prevent or avoid any actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest.
- Refrain from discussing or voting on any motion when doing so would place a member in an actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest. This includes when a member may be influenced by outside interests separate from their role as a member.
- Refrain from sharing information that is not available to the public with any individual or organization or providing preferential treatment to any individual or organization such as advocating on their behalf.
- Disclose any actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest to the Chair of the technical committee or to Accessibility Standards Canada.
Duty of Disclosure, Reporting and Cooperation
Any behaviour prohibited by this Code that is experienced or observed must be reported in writing; it can be reported confidentially and anonymously. Please use the following as a guide to determine which person(s) to send your written report to:
- If the behaviour comes from another member, inform the Chairperson of the technical committee and the Project Manager;
- If the behaviour comes from the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson, inform the Project Manager; or,
- If the behaviour comes from the Project Manager, inform the Manager of Standards Development at Accessibility Standards Canada.
When a written report is sent, the following shall apply:
- Subject to law, a member reporting a violation of this Code shall remain anonymous, save and except in those circumstances where the nature of the disclosure and/or the resultant investigation make it necessary to disclose identity (for example, legal investigations or proceedings). In such cases, all reasonable steps shall be taken to protect the person reporting from harm as a result of having made a disclosure.
- Subject to law, the identity of the member submitting a report shall remain confidential unless the person agrees otherwise.
- A member is protected against retaliation as a result of having made, in good faith, a report which the member believes to be valid or as a result of such member having otherwise assisted in the investigation of the report. Retaliation against a member who raises a concern, in good faith, will not be tolerated and can be considered a violation of this Code.
Breach of the Code
Conduct that is illegal, dishonest or unethical constitutes a breach of the Code, whether or not the conduct is specifically addressed in the Code. Compliance with the Code is a key requirement of participation on a technical committee. Conduct that does not meet the standards set out in the Code or is otherwise illegal, dishonest or unethical, may lead to the termination of membership on a technical committee.
Accessibility Standards Canada Vision, Mission and Mandate
A Canada without barriers where everyone, including persons with disabilities, can be confident that opportunities and services are accessible on an equal basis.
Accessibility Standards Canada is led by persons with disabilities to create a barrier-free Canada through developing innovative accessibility standards in priority areas, revising current accessibility standards, leading research and supporting all of society to obtain the highest level of accessibility in collaboration and engagement with persons with disabilities.
The Standards Organization’s mandate is to contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers, on or before January 1, 2040, through, among other things,
- the development and revision of accessibility standards;
- the recommendation of accessibility standards to the Minister;
- the provision of information, products and services in relation to the accessibility standards that it has developed or revised;
- the promotion, support and conduct of research into the identification and removal of barriers and the prevention of new barriers; and
- the dissemination of information, including information about best practices, in relation to the identification and removal of barriers and the prevention of new barriers.
Types of behaviour that constitute harassment include, but are not limited to:
- Written or verbal abuse, threats, or outbursts;
- The display of visual material which is offensive or which a reasonable person ought to know is offensive in the circumstances;
- Unwelcome remarks, jokes, comments, innuendo, or taunts;
- Leering or other suggestive or obscene gestures;
- Condescending or patronizing behaviour which is intended to undermine self-esteem or adversely affect conditions of participation;
- Practical jokes which cause awkwardness or embarrassment, endanger a person’s safety, or negatively affect the person;
- Any form of hazing;
- Retaliation or threats of retaliation against an individual who reports harassment;
- Offensive or intimidating phone calls, texts, voice mails or emails;
- Displaying or circulating offensive pictures, photographs or materials in printed or electronic form;
- Psychological abuse;
- Words, actions or an environment which is known or should reasonably be known to be offensive, embarrassing, humiliating, demeaning or intimidating; and
- Behaviour such as described above that are not directed towards a specific individual or group but have the same effect of creating a negative or hostile environment.
Refrain from any behaviour that constitutes violence, where violence is defined as the exercise of physical force, that causes or could cause physical injury; an attempt to exercise physical force that could cause physical injury; or a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force. Types of behaviour that are applicable to this section include, but are not limited to:
- Verbal threats to attack;
- Sending or leaving threatening notes, texts, voice mail or emails;
- Making threatening physical gestures;
- Wielding a weapon;
- Hitting, pinching or unwanted touching which is not accidental;
- Throwing an object in the direction of someone;
- Blocking normal movement or physical interference and,
- Any attempt to engage in the type of conduct outlined above.
Refrain from any behaviour that constitutes sexual harassment, where sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual comments and sexual advances, requests for sexual favour, or conduct of a sexual nature. Types of behaviour that constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:
- Sexist jokes;
- Sexual violence;
- Display of sexually offensive material;
- Sexually degrading words used to describe a person;
- Inquiries or comments about a person’s sex life;
- Unwelcome sexual flirtations, advances, requests, invitations or propositions;
- Inappropriate sexual touching, advances, suggestions or requests;
- Unwanted physical contact including, but not limited to, touching, petting, pinching, or kissing; and
- Physical or sexual assault.