One of the most important social movements in the last decade became well-known for its effects in the entertainment, news, and political spheres. But it also strongly affects evaluators, and AEA has a responsibility and an opportunity to be responsive to it.
Greetings! We are Kate Locke, Associate Director of Evaluation and Learning and Rose Konecky, Consultant at TCC Group, a mission-driven consulting firm working in the social sector. When we heard the conference theme “Speaking Truth to Power” for AEA’s 2018 conference, we were very energized and wanted to use the theme to explore an issue weighing on both of us—how have issues raised by the #MeToo movement come up in our work as evaluators and as AEA members? We ultimately facilitated a roundtable looking at where we (as a field and as a professional association) have been, where we are going, and what we can do better in terms of keeping evaluators safe from harassment.
Hot Tip: Regardless of gender identity, evaluators face personal risk regarding harassment and inappropriate conduct.
We came up with this session idea after realizing that someone we had interviewed for a client engagement position had been fired from their organization for sexual misconduct. We reflected on the challenging situations faced by evaluators—collecting data in the field, interacting with clients, attending conferences, and working abroad. We also noted that while some evaluators have the support of a large organization such as a university to help keep them safe, many of our peers are independent contractors without access to dedicated HR staff and without much recourse if something goes wrong.
While many of the headlines regarding #MeToo have focused on the realms of Hollywood, the news, business, and politics, the social sector has had its share of bad actors, as we have seen in various troubling headlines from the past year and a half.
We realized that there is nothing in AEA policies or guiding principles addressing risks faced by evaluators (as opposed to evaluands). When looking at peer membership organizations, like the American Sociological Association and the American Anthropological Association, we realized that they both had explicit policies on sexual harassment as well as policies around codes of conduct for their conferences and convenings. We used our session to explore specific safeguards that could be put into place and to generate a call to action for AEA to be more aligned with our peers and to better protect the safety of its members.
Cool Trick: We held time for break-out discussions and report backs among our session attendees. Our session generated a lively discussion and a strong support for an AEA Conference Code of Conduct.
We now understand that AEA is working to develop a Conference Code of Conduct and look forward to seeing it. We also urge AEA to consider developing a policy on harassment.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Feminist Issues in Evaluation (FIE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the FIE Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our FIE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.