The New IOA Concern and Complaint Policy


We are pleased to roll out the final process piece of our culture work: the new IOA Concern and Complaint Policy and Procedures which were approved by the IOA Board of Directors at their July meeting. Both the policy and procedures will be piloted for the next 18 months so we may benefit from both utilization and experience.   

Concern and Complaint Policy and Procedures

This has been a long journey. First, we realized we couldn’t consider conduct before we articulated the culture we wanted to create. We also realized we needed to articulate that how we treat each other matters. Perhaps obvious especially to ombuds, but critical to ensuring we are all operating with the same frame. After focus group discussions with members in 2022, it was clear we needed to start with organizational values (based on the values detailed in our Code of Ethics for practice) and community norms. After gaining community input, we rolled out new Values and Norms that guide all our interactions. 

Now, we bolster that work by articulating what kind of conduct does not support a culture that honors the dignity of each Participant. This includes: 

  • Deliberate intimidation, bullying, threatening, stalking, or pursuing others, 

  • Exhibiting behavior that is disruptive, or that endangers the health or safety of oneself or others including spam (verbally or in chats), or saying or reposting the same word/content repeatedly to disrupt the conversation, 

  • Sustained disruption of portions of any IOA Activity, regardless of whether the Participant has been directly asked to cease or stop the disruption, 

  • Invasion of privacy, 

  • Harassment, 

  • Sexual Harassment,

  • Discriminatory conduct based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, transgender status, age, national origin, language, disability, religion, marital status, veteran status, political affinity, or any other characteristic protected by U.S. law, 

  • Actual or threatened pushing, shoving, or use of any physical force whatsoever against any Participant, 

  • Possession or use of a weapon or any other item in a way that may cause danger to or threaten others, 

  • Destruction, theft, dismantlement, defacement, abuse, or intentional misuse of property belonging to IOA, a Participant, or a contracted venue, 

  • Retaliation against any Participant for reporting activity that they reasonably believed to be in violation of the Concern and Complaint Policy, 

  • Knowingly and falsely reporting violations of behavior or conduct in bad faith, 

  • Activities that are dishonest, fraudulent, illegal, or that clearly are not professional or consistent with the mission and goals of IOA, its Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice including plagiarism, 

  • Theft, misappropriation and/or violation of property rights including intellectual property, 

  • Intentional failure to comply with directions of IOA staff, or venue personnel regarding operations or emergency response procedures.  

Finally,  we outlined both informal and formal processes in support of our culture: 

We now turn to the educational component of the work. In the coming months, we will offer bystander training to members (stay tuned for more details!). In early 2024, we will also partner with the National Equity Project to hold a two-part training on microaggressions.   

We can’t create culture in a vacuum, so thank you to the 100+ members and participants who engaged with us in this process and those of you over the years have called on IOA to do work. Your feedback was informative, eye opening and critical.  

If you have any questions about this work, please reach out to Executive Director Ellen Miller.    

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