Yesterday, after five staffer resignations from Seattle’s GeekGirlCon two months away from their next weekend show, and sent out a notice of complaints from the company e-mail system. Amongst other things, the e-mail states that,
Over the last five months, while we worked with the ED and the Board in good faith to resolve the differences, we witnessed bullying, gender discrimination, racism, misuse of charitable funds, and many instances of unethical behavior.
An official statement has now been issued by the show,
You may have received a message today from GeekGirlCon regarding the resignation of some members of the Convention Operations team.
We apologize for any confusion and hurt this has caused. As a community, we are hurt as well. These messages do not reflect the organization’s position and were distributed on behalf of GeekGirlCon without our approval or notice. To clarify, GeekGirlCon ‘17 will take place on September 30 and October 1. The convention will go on as planned.
It is important to note that the Convention Operations team represents just a fraction of the many passionate staff members working to ensure a wonderful and inclusive con. Despite the resignation of 5 team members, we remain an organization of over 50 people, including many who have been with us from the inception of the organization.
As a volunteer-powered non-profit organization putting on our seventh con, we recognize that progress and change often come with conflict and differing visions for the organization. It is inevitable to run into disagreement. Despite these growing pains, we are committed to continuing our central mission of supporting women geeks, geeks of other underrepresented backgrounds and identities, and their allies. It is also important to understand that GeekGirlCon is still a very young organization, and over the last year we have made major strides in expanding our mission. Growth is necessary, and unfortunately not everyone will be in agreement on how that growth is implemented.
The accusations brought forth by the five individuals before their resignation were addressed by our Board of Directors. After these accusations were brought to the attention of the Board, the Board took steps to interview staff members, but were not provided any supporting documentation nor corroboration for the claims. In addition, the Board and our Executive Director have implemented steps to improve communication, transparency, and financial oversight. These improvements are ongoing as we continually seek to improve how we can best serve our community.
Our organization is led by Michele Carrico Domingo, a woman of color who has made it her mission to demonstrate transparency, integrity, and inclusivity. Her background working with both non-profits and corporations has made her exceptionally qualified to lead GeekGirlCon. The entirety of the GeekGirlCon staff supports Michele, and we are honored to be led by her.
We would like to reaffirm the guiding values and beliefs that unite us and act as a manifesto for our organization:
We are Geeks.
We savor the scientific, the logical, and the precise. We revel in the unknown, the fantastic, and the unimaginable. We exist in the-between, where ingenuity stretches possibility and transformation is born. We code, concoct, create and cosplay.
The imagination is our only limit and ours is limitless.
We are Girls.
And we are women, and femmes, and non-binary/gender non-conforming individuals, and we are allies. Our personalities are as diverse as our backgrounds and bodies. We are many voices and countless tales.
We are diversity and we defy expectations.
We are a community.
We break barriers and democratize opportunity. We provide safe spaces to do what we love: learn, connect, invent and challenge.
We are here to fearlessly and fiercely celebrate one another.
Welcome to GeekGirlCon 2017. Celebration of the Female Geek.
Again, we apologize for the confusion this has caused. We want to assure you all that we are committed to ensuring that this year’s Con will be as exciting, inclusive, and geeky as ever!
One of the resigned members has been tweeting in discussion about his reasons to leave.
While the statement is full of generalities, others have been more specific about the allegations. Specifically cartoonist and content director for HiveWorks, Audrey Redpath has been making a case for the defence, sharing a different perspective.
Thread: Don’t bail on GeekGirlCon bc of today’s “Urgent Message.” Call-out was primarily prompted by the IDEA of WOC being hired/elevated. https://t.co/0tObDeocKM
— Audrey Redpath (@audreyredpath) August 7, 2017
And there were other specific allegations addressed in the bulletpoints,
1. Acts of discrimination carried out by the Executive Director in the removal and eventual reinstatement of a Con Operation staff member.
2. Opportunistic and underhanded voting tactics by the Board of Directors, including:
3. Voting on matters before seeing the evidence collected and knowing it has been collected.
4. Postponing vote on the removal of the Executive Director during its proposed session; instead the vote was called in an emergency meeting without the Board member who proposed the original motion being present.
5. Bullying of staff members and making derogatory statements to them about their mental and/or physical condition.
6. Dissemination of printed documents by the Executive Director that include details of private, sexual encounters, unrelated to GeekGirlCon, in an effort to discriminate against and kink-shame a volunteer.
7. Questionable use of charitable funds by the Executive Director.
8. Deprioritization of financial oversight by the Board of Directors.
9. Failure of the Board of Directors to provide any recourse for reporting ethical violations made by the Executive Director.
Leave you with this: discussing with my source why they chose to accuse GeekGirlCon of racism/sexism w/o specifying white men and women. pic.twitter.com/hwVV4IRkI3
— Audrey Redpath (@audreyredpath) August 7, 2017
More, as Audrey said, is likely to come…