This year the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) / Adventure 360™ released a code of conduct that must be signed by all event delegates and participants on adventures tied to ATTA events. In this age of #MeToo and sexual harassment, assault, and hate crimes, we felt it was time to clearly state our values and the expectations we have about how we all should treat one another. It can be summarized in one word: Respect.
Backing up, let’s examine the definition of a code of conduct. I personally like this explanation from the Ethics & Compliance Initiative:
A well-written code of conduct clarifies an organization’s mission, values, and principles, linking them with standards of professional conduct. The code articulates the values the organization wishes to foster in leaders and employees and, in doing so, defines desired behavior.
As a global organization, it is imperative we acknowledge and respect a vastly wide array of cultural differences found throughout the world. What is acceptable in one country might not be acceptable in another. The path of respect starts with listening and observing. Bringing this code to the forefront, acknowledging the need and expectation for respect, and saying out loud that we believe every race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status — every human — deserves respect, is important.
When we released the code we received a few questions from upcoming event participants such as “Is this necessary?,” “Is this the standard now for events?,” and “Did something happen to make you start this practice?” The answer is codes are a common practice at events, and more associations and event organizers are including them as a way to provide clear guidelines to assure a professional environment and make everyone feel safe.
We believe that, in the travel industry, the creation of and adherence to codes of conduct should become a common practice. Marginalized populations are treated unfairly and discriminated against in their own communities and countries. Imagine how travelers would feel if they were assured that, just because they may be a certain gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion, their chosen tour company, guide, accommodation, or airline would do its best to foster a safe and respectful environment and not tolerate threatening, unsafe, unwarranted, unwelcome, and unjustified behavior.
I know establishing a code — a line in the sand — can be difficult. It is a bit like diving into a glacial lake: Once you disturb the silty bottom, that gorgeous turquoise water on top becomes a tad cloudy. I have examined my own actions, and inactions, as well as my own history, to see how they aligned with this value of respect and to see if there were missed opportunities. I am one person; each of us has our own story and history, and together we are a complex narrative. I invite all of you to take a moment to reflect on some of your interactions. Were there any situations in which you could have been more respectful of others? Others more respectful of you?
The ATTA’s code of conduct is our guidepost. It reminds us that behind every face is a person rich with their own context, their own complex needs and culture. If we can come from a place of respect, we will be a better community for it.
Laughter, hugs, adventure, warmth — that is who we are and who I am. We will try our best to navigate this complicated world while enjoying every minute of it. I invite you to join us in charting a stronger and more inclusive community together.