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GIS Team Code of Conduct


We are a small team aiming to accomplish big things.

Team members need to cooperate effectively while also being required at times to operate with a large amount of independence and self-direction. The humanitarian nature of our work can be emotionally difficult and physically taxing, especially during times of disaster response. Cooperation amongst team members is often based on digital communications, and it can be challenging to interpret intent and emotion without face-to-face interaction. There are many challenges to our continued learning, growth, and accomplishments. It is vital that we function effectively together and that we understand what is expected of us as members of the team.

Basic guidelines

  • The team is meant to be a safe environment.
  • Engage in communication with respect and a mindfulness towards basic human decency.
  • Assume all communications are positive and people are treating each other with respect. Cues about emotions are often lacking from digital communications. Many of our modes of digital communication tend towards brevity, which can be easier to interpret incorrectly as being negative.
  • Feedback is a vital part of maintaining a high quality of output from our team. Always direct focus to the product and not the person. Always be willing to both provide and receive feedback.
  • Acknowledge burnout is a very real risk. Never hesitate to let the team know if you need a break.
  • Respect basic human decency over the need to accomplish a given task.

Encouraged behaviors

  • Be friendly and patient.
  • Be welcoming.
  • Be considerate.
  • Be respectful.
  • Be careful in your word phrasing and tone.
  • Assume all communications are positive.
  • When we disagree, try to understand why.

Team practices

  • Video first, conditions permitting. We are all remote at some point and seeing faces helps build team cohesion and improves clarity of communication.
  • Default to keeping conversations in public channels except when there is a good reason not to do so.
  • Working with people across many timezones can be difficult. Core business hours are based on headquarters (Washington, DC time) for consistency. Messages are often sent at all hours, but in non-disaster situations, it is not expected that responses be immediate. This can be managed through notification settings on apps. Recognize that while people may appear online in apps, they could be in meetings, away from their computer, or focusing on work; there is no need to send multiple messages to get someone's attention. Expect that they have seen your message and will reply when able.
  • Make an effort to regularly attend scrum.
  • Keep team collaboration tools up-to-date (Trello, Google Calendar).
  • Keep work location (remote, travel, Red Cross Square, PTO, etc.) updated in Slack status.
  • It's nice to let the team know when taking-off 🛫 and landing 🛬 while on work travel. A simple emoji in Slack is fine.
    • Matrixed team members may need to follow the travel notification norms of their other teams/units.

Behaviors that won't be tolerated

  • Verbal or written abuse.
  • Discrimination or actions (whether subtle or overt, inadvertent or intentional) targeting race, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or any other attribute.

Process for addressing violations of this code of conduct

  • This Code of Conduct is not complete and events/actions that you consider violations may not be explicitly defined in this document. Don't let that deter you from bringing an issue to light.
  • If you are comfortable and feel safe doing so, bring it to the attention of the other person.
  • Otherwise, or if not resolved, bring it the the attention of the next level of management/leadership as appropriate. Depending on you position and the situation this could be: your volunteer supervisor, the team lead (Ashley), the QDL director (Bernard), or other senior leadership.
  • The American Red Cross also has a variety of HR procedures and channels for flagging ethics violations, workplace concerns, and other issues.
  • Help us improve this Code of Conduct to better identify the problem, submit an edit through a pull request.


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