W3C is a growing and global community where participants choose
to work together. W3C is committed to maintaining a positive working
environment, where each participant feels appreciated and respected and
where everyone adheres to the same high level of standards of personal
behavior. In that process we experience differences in language,
location, nationality, and experience. In such a diverse environment,
misunderstandings and disagreements happen, which in most cases can be
W3C's Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
useful to define accepted and acceptable behaviors and to
promote high standards of professional practice. The goal of this code
of conduct is to ensure that W3C is an environment where everyone can
participate without fear of harassment. It also provides a
benchmark for self evaluation and acts as a vehicle for better identity
of the organization.
The CEPC is complemented by a set of Procedures, applies
to any member of the W3C community – staff, members, invited experts,
and participants in W3C meetings, W3C teleconferences, W3C
mailing lists, code repositories, W3C conferences or W3C functions, etc.
Note that this code complements rather than replaces legal rights and
obligations pertaining to any particular situation.
W3C is committed to maintaining a positive work
environment. This commitment calls for a workplace where
participants at all levels behave according to the rules of the
following code. A foundational concept of this code is that we all
share responsibility for our work environment.
Treat each other with respect,
professionalism, fairness, and sensitivity to our many differences
and strengths, including in situations of high pressure and urgency.
Appreciate and accommodate our similarities and differences. We
come from many cultures and backgrounds, ways of life, and standards
of behavior. Cultural differences can encompass everything from
official religious observances to personal habits to clothing. Be
respectful of people with different practices, attitudes, and
beliefs. To help us achieve and maintain these high standards, each
individual participant is expected to share responsibility for our
work environment by adhering to the behavioral guidelines herein.
Have empathy when discussing sensitive issues. Some participants
may have experienced (or been subjected to) various forms of violence
in their lives, which may cause distress when they are reminded of
it. Avoid making jokes or callously mentioning sexual violence such
as stalking or sexual assault; in cases when the need arises to
discuss these issues and how they affect people - do so with tact and
empathy taking into account the gravity of the situation, and make
sure that participants are appropriately warned in advance so
they can choose to step out of these discussions.
Treat everyone with respect. We are a large community of people who are passionate
about our work, sometimes holding strong opinions and beliefs. We are
committed to dealing with each other with courtesy, respect, and
dignity at all times. Misunderstandings and disagreements do happen.
When conflicts arise, we are expected to resolve them maintaining
that courtesy, respect, and dignity, even when emotions are
Do not accept or engage in abusive behavior in any form, whether it is
verbal, physical, sexual, or implied.
Be honest. Be truthful, sincere, forthright and, unless professional duties require confidentiality or special discretion, candid, straightforward, and frank.
Be inclusive and promote diversity. Seek diverse
perspectives. Diversity of views and of people powers innovation,
even if it is not always comfortable. Encourage all voices. Help new
perspectives be heard and listen actively. If you find yourself
dominating a discussion, it is especially important to step back and
encourage other voices to join in. Provide alternative ways to
Be aware of how much time is taken up by dominant members of the
Be aware that displays of affection may complicate professional
relationships. For some cultures, overtly friendly disposition
towards another participant involving body contact (e.g.: hugging,
touching on the arm or shoulder, or kissing) is uncommon and may be
perceived as an invasion of personal space, or as unwelcome advances.
Work to eliminate your own biases, prejudices, and discriminatory
Think of others’ needs from their point of view. Use preferred
names, titles (including pronouns), and the appropriate tone of
voice. Therefore, be formal and conservative in what you do and
liberal in what you accept from others and acknowledge the
contributions of your peers.
Accommodate participants' needs for physical distancing and other accommodations or precautions due to health concerns such as immune deficiency, allergies, or chemical sensitivity.
Be sensitive to language differences. English is the default
language of the W3C. However, only some of us are native English
speakers. Many participants speak English as a second (or
third) language. People who communicate in non-native language often
struggle to understand fast and/or quiet speech and may speak louder
than they usually would when communicating in their native tongue. If
someone struggles to express their thoughts, help ensure their ideas
are adequately expressed, heard, and granted thorough consideration.
Respect confidentiality and privacy. Sometimes, matters we discuss may
fall under various confidentiality
agreements and strict adherence to these agreements is expected. In
addition, certain pieces of information disclosed in a group setting
may be private in nature, or we may inadvertently learn confidential
information accidentally disclosed by other participants. Please
exercise good judgment, and make reasonable efforts to protect
privacy and confidentiality of all participants.
Unacceptable behaviors run counter to the Code
of Ethics and Professional Conduct. This list of unacceptable
behaviors does not cover every case. Each person you interact
with is unique, and behavior must be assessed on an individual level.
Ensuring that your behavior does not have a negative impact is your
responsibility. W3C strictly prohibits discrimination,
intimidation, harassment, and bullying of any kind and
on any basis.
Publication of non-harassing private communication without
consent by the involved parties.
Use of coded language (also known as "dog whistles") used to
rally support for hate groups or to intimidate vulnerable groups.
Microaggressions, which are small comments or questions, either
intentional or unintentional, that marginalize people by
communicating hostile, derogatory, or negative beliefs. Examples
Patronizing language or behavior:
Be aware that, regardless of the speaker's intentions,
some phrases or constructions lead people to expect a
patronizing statement to follow, and avoid such phrases. For
example, beginning an interjection with "Well, actually..."
can set this expectation and be taken as a sign of
Assuming without asking that particular people or groups
need concepts defined or explained to them. It’s great to be
sensitive to the fact that people may not be familiar with
technical terms you use every day, but assuming that people
are uninformed can come across as patronizing.
Assuming that particular groups of people are technically
unskilled (e.g., “So easy your grandmother could do it”).
Repeatedly interrupting or talking over someone else.
Feigning surprise at someone’s lack of knowledge or awareness
about a topic.
The use of racially charged language to describe an
individual or thing (such as “thug” or “ghetto”).
Referring to an individual in a way that demeans or
challenges the validity of their racial identity.
Mocking someone’s real or perceived accent or first language.
Retaliating, or taking adverse action, against anyone who files a complaint that someone has
violated this code of conduct.
3.2.1 Safety versus Comfort
This Code prioritizes the safety of individuals, particularly those in marginalized communities, over the comfort of others, for example in situations involving:
"Reverse" -isms, including "reverse racism," "reverse
sexism," and "cisphobia".
Reasonable communication of boundaries, such as “leave me alone,”
“go away,” or “I’m not discussing this with you”.
Communication in a tone you don’t find congenial.
Criticisms of racist, sexist, cissexist, or otherwise
oppressive behavior or assumptions.
Reporting Violations and Supporting the Code
If you are concerned about your immediate safety, contact local
emergency services. For a face to face event you may need to contact
venue staff for assistance contacting emergency services.
In most instances if you have an issue with someone’s behavior along
the lines of this Code then please raise it; there are a few potential
people you could raise it to depending on your situation and your
In most cases, issues are best resolved at the source. Accordingly,
raising the issue with the group chair or team contact of the relevant
group is usually the best first place to raise an issue. Group chairs
and team contacts also have more of the context which helps them
address the issue.
You are welcome to raise issues directly with the Ombudspeople as a group or individually. All
complaints will be taken seriously and will receive a response.
If you are responsible for a community within the W3C such as in the
role of a chair of a working group and you witness harassment or
any other behavior which goes against this code you are encouraged to
address the issue directly. If you need assistance, you might get
assistance from an Ombudsperson or senior W3C management.
Chairs, Team Contacts, and Event Organizers should take such immediate
action as they deem necessary in order to stop unacceptable behavior. This action may take
many forms, but examples may include:
Pointing out if someone is violating the CEPC to give them the
chance to withdraw or edit their statement
Reminding participants that meetings and work operate
under the CEPC
Asking someone to leave a meeting or a conversation thread
After the Meeting
Following up with affected participants, possibly in separate
Reaching out to an Ombudsperson for assistance
Further information and resources for Chairs are available via
the Chairs Training program
Note that the action must be directly related to
stopping harm, and must be proportionate. People affected may request
an Ombudsperson consider whether such actions are unacceptable
under the terms of this Code.
As we engage in diverse communities we may accidentally cause offense,
whether through using unknowingly offensive terminology or through
missing social cues.
If you realize (or are told) that you have offended someone then take
the appropriate steps:
Acknowledge that you've done something improper
Briefly apologize. Don't try to explain yourself or minimize the
If possible, edit your message, restate your communication in a
better way or withdraw your statement. Publicly revising your statement
helps define the culture for others
Alice: “Yeah I used X and it was really crazy!” Eve: “Hey, could you
not use that word? What about ‘ridiculous’ instead?” Alice: “oh sorry,
sure.” -> edits old message to say “Yeah I used X and it was really
This will allow conversation to quickly continue without any need of
further action or escalating the situation.
If you don't understand what you did wrong, assume that the hurt party
has good cause and accept it. We cannot know everyone's background and
should do our best to avoid harm. You are welcome to discuss it with a
W3C ombudsperson later.
Within the W3C, this is behavior which abides by this Code of
Ethics and Professional Conduct.
A person whose gender identity matches the one they were
assigned at birth.
The belief or assumption that cis people's gender
identities, expressions, and embodiments are more natural and
legitimate than those of trans people. The term is related to
Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the
proposal or desires of another. It is a term of common speech, with
specific definitions as used in such fields as the law, medicine,
research, and sexual relationships. Wikipedia
is using someone's name after they have changed it. Often a
person's name is not their "legal" name, whatever that may mean.
If someone asks you to use a name for them you should use it. This
A trans person, who has changed their name when transitioning
Someone who has changed their name through marriage
Someone who has changed their name for any other reason
Acting in a way that reduces another person's dignity, sense of
self-worth, or respect within the community.
The prejudicial treatment of an individual based on criteria
such as: physical appearance, race, ethnic origin, genetic
differences, national or social origin, name, religion, gender,
sexual orientation, family or health situation, pregnancy,
disability, age, education, wealth, domicile, political view,
morals, employment, or union activity.
Diversity for the purposes of diversity and inclusion, is any
dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from
one another. With a focus on age, gender, ethnicity, religion,
disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin.
Gender expression is a person's behavior, mannerisms, interests,
and appearance that are associated with gender in a particular
cultural context. Wikipedia
Gender identity is the personal sense of one's own gender. Gender
identity can correlate with assigned sex at birth or can differ
from it. Wikipedia
Any conduct, verbal or physical, that has the intent or effect
of interfering with an individual, or that creates an intimidating,
hostile, or offensive environment.
The practice or policy of including people who might otherwise
be excluded or marginalized.
Treating another person with scorn or disrespect.
Communities which are often overlooked, ignored or denigrated
to the detriment of the members of that community. People may often
be part of multiple communities such as being queer and disabled.
A person’s condition with regard to their psychological and
Microaggression is a term used for brief and commonplace daily
verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether
intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory,
or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group,
particularly culturally marginalized group. Wikipedia
Misgendering is addressing someone using gendered words to imply or
state they are a different gender than the one they have asked
to be used.
Examples include refusing to use their correct pronouns such as
he/him, she/her, they/them or others.
A type of brain, in terms of how a person interprets and responds
to social cues.
One who assists individuals and groups in the resolution of
conflicts or concerns. They are a designated neutral who is
appointed or employed by the W3C to facilitate the informal
resolution of concerns of participants within the W3C.
W3C group participants (member representatives and invited experts)
Advisory Committee Representatives (and their guests)
Anyone from the Public partaking in the W3C work environment
(e.g. commenting on our specs, emailing us, attending our
conferences or functions, etc.)
Prejudice refers to a set of discriminatory or derogatory attitudes based on assumptions deriving from perceptions about such things as race, culture, religion, skin color, age, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or gender expression.
Racism is where racial prejudices work to enhance existing power
imbalances within communities to further marginalize groups based
Prejudice or discrimination based on sex or perceived sex.
Usually against women or non-binary people.
Sexism is where these prejudices work to enhance existing power
imbalances within communities to further marginalize groups.
A tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent aggressive
or unreasonable behavior (e.g. verbal or written abuse, offensive
conduct or any interference which undermines or impedes work)
against a co-worker or any professional relations.
Includes requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical
conduct of a sexual nature, where:
submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly
a term or condition of an individual's employment
submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used
as a basis for employment decisions affecting the individual
such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering
with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating
hostile or offensive working environment
Sexual Orientation relates to the gender(s) a person may be
attracted to in relation to their own gender.
Socio-economic status is the combined effects relating to someone’s
wealth, social position/class and property ownership.
Transphobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes, feelings, or
actions toward transgender or transsexual people, or toward
transsexuality. Transphobia can include fear, aversion, hatred,
violence, anger, or discomfort felt or expressed toward people who
do not conform to society's gender expectation.
Unwelcome sexual advance
includes visual displays of degrading sexual images, sexually suggestive conduct, offensive remarks of a sexual nature, requests for sexual favors, unwelcome physical contact, and sexual assault.
Large portions of the text for this policy were taken from the