Code of Conduct

Tackling discrimination at Belfast 2018
This code has been created by the Museums Association (MA) to help us all create a safe, welcoming and inclusive conference experience for everyone. As part of a drive towards more inclusive museums many elements of the conference - particularly the Festival of Change - are addressing issues of social justice. 

This can require conversations and interactions about things that are difficult, challenging and have personal meaning to people. These conversations can be tricky to navigate. 

Social justice work can also, in a small proportion of situations, lead to harassing or discriminatory behaviour. To address this, we have worked with peers in the sector to put together this code to guide our shared work towards an inclusive sector. The MA’s definition of inclusion is defined as ‘a state of being and feeling valued, respected and supported.’

Working towards inclusion

As we work together as a sector towards inclusion, we expect and encourage our attendees to:
  • behave in a mutually respectful and thoughtful way & listen carefully to other people
  • be mindful of how others might be feeling
  • be alert for cues that a person is uncomfortable with a situation or conversation and respond appropriately e.g. a lack of eye contact, fidgeting or crossing arms; if you experience this type of social cue, end the conversation, thank the person and move on.

Discrimination and harassment

The MA recognises that certain people have experienced and still experience disproportionate discrimination and harassment. This is because of the way society responds to characteristics such as age, ethnicity, disability, gender, religion or belief and sexuality.

These characteristics (amongst others) have therefore been protected under the Equalities Act 2010. In addition, certain people have benefited or continue to benefit from privilege, whether they are aware of it or not. Privilege means that people are less likely to face harassment – or be aware of it.

Some examples of harassment are:
  • physical contact without consent or after a request to stop
  • comments or actions that minimise a person's lived experience, identity or safety
  • deliberate misgendering e.g. to purposely call a transgender woman ‘him’
  • continuing a conversation when someone has signalled that they are uncomfortable 
  • deliberate ‘outing’ of a person’s identity without their consent e.g. making and stating assumptions about a person’s sexuality
  • unwelcome sexual attention
  • deliberate intimidation or stalking of any kind, in person or online; as a minimum keep tweets respectful
  • collection or distribution of harassing photography or recordings
  • threats or acts of violence.

Letting us know

If you experience or are witness to any of the above behaviour, in the first instance contact Jess Turtle, the MA’s inclusion manager. Jess can be contacted via the MA Hub in the exhibition hall or the information desk.

What happens next

The MA will not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind. Attendees asked to stop any discriminatory or harassing behaviour are expected to comply immediately. MA staff may act to redress anything disrupting the event or making the environment unsafe for participants. 

Anyone engaging in the behaviours outlined above may be subject to expulsion from MA membership with no refund from conference and related or future events. In addition, the MA will follow procedure for reporting hate crimes if they occur.


This code draws upon and is informed by the knowledge and expertise of: Theodore W Allen; American Alliance of Museums; Cambridge English Dictionary; Detroit: The Radical Education Project; WEB Dubois, 1935 Black Reconstruction in America;;; Lisa Kennedy, Emma MacNicol, Donata Miller; Museums Association Transformers alumni; NYC Revolutionary Youth Movement; Oxford English Dictionary


Cisgender – denoting or relating to a person whose personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex.

Disclosure – the act of making something known. Only the individual concerned has the right to disclose things about themselves & their identity. People should not have disclosures made about them and they should not feel pressured to disclose things about themselves.

Identity – who a person is, or the qualities of that person that make them different from others.

Lived experience – a person’s first-hand experience. Widely used in social justice, mental health, health and homelessness settings as a way of recognising and acknowledging the expertise that comes from experiencing something directly.

Outing – public disclosure of an aspect of a person’s identity.

Privilege – a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group. Ideas around social and psychological privilege experienced by white people were written about in the 1930s by W. E. B. Du Bois and expanded into the idea of ‘White Skin Privilege’ during the American Civil Rights movement in the 1960s by Theodore W. Allen. It is used today as a way of thinking about how power operates in society. The idea that some people have more privilege than others is still the subject of debate almost 100 years after being introduced.

Social justice – the objective of creating a fair and equal society in which each individual matters, their rights are recognised and protected, and decisions are made in ways that are fair and honest.

Stalking – the Crown Prosecution Service defines the following behaviours as stalking, when part of a course of conduct (carried out repeatedly or with intent to harass):
• following a person
• contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means
• publishing a statement or any other material relating to or purporting to relate to a person or purporting to originate from a person
• monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of e-communication
• loitering in any place whether public or private
• interfering with any property in the possession of a person
• watching or spying on a person.

Transgender – denoting or relating to a person whose personal identity and gender does not correspond to their birth sex.

Links and downloads

Code of Conduct (word)