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Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

W3C is a growing and global community where participants choose to work together, and in that process experience differences in language, location, nationality, and experience. In such a diverse environment, misunderstandings and disagreements happen, which in most cases can be resolved informally. In rare cases, however, behavior can intimidate, harass, or otherwise disrupt one or more people in the community, which W3C will not tolerate.

A Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is useful to define accepted and acceptable behaviors and to promote high standards of professional practice. It also provides a benchmark for self evaluation and acts as a vehicle for better identity of the organization.

This code (CEPC), complemented by a set of Procedures, applies to any member of the W3C community – staff, members, invited experts, participants in W3C meetings, W3C teleconferences, W3C mailing lists, W3C conference or W3C functions, etc. Note that this code complements rather than replaces legal rights and obligations pertaining to any particular situation.

Education and training materials are available from the Positive Work Environment public homepage.

Statement of Intent

W3C is committed to maintain 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.


  1. Treat each other with respect, professionalism, fairness, and sensitivity to our many differences and strengths, including in situations of high pressure and urgency.
  2. Never harass or bully anyone verbally, physically or sexually.
  3. Never discriminate on the basis of personal characteristics or group membership.
  4. Communicate constructively and avoid demeaning or insulting behavior or language.
  5. Seek, accept, and offer objective work criticism, and acknowledge properly the contributions of others.
  6. Be honest about your own qualifications, and about any circumstances that might lead to conflicts of interest.
  7. Respect the privacy of others and the confidentiality of data you access.
  8. With respect to cultural differences, be conservative in what you do and liberal in what you accept from others, but not to the point of accepting disrespectful, unprofessional or unfair or unwelcome behavior or advances.
  9. Promote the rules of this Code and take action (especially if you are in a leadership position) to bring the discussion back to a more civil level whenever inappropriate behaviors are observed.


Demeaning behavior
is acting in a way that reduces another person's dignity, sense of self-worth or respect within the community.
is 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.
Insulting behavior
is treating another person with scorn or disrespect.
is a record of the origin(s) and author(s) of a contribution.
is 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.
Leadership position
includes group Team contacts, group Chairs, W3C management, and Advisory Board members.
includes the following persons:
is the genuine consideration you have for someone (if only because of their status as participant in W3C, like yourself), and that you show by treating them in a polite and kind way.
Sexual harassment
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.
Unwelcome behavior
Hard to define? Some questions to ask yourself are:

Summary: if you are unsure whether something might be welcome or unwelcome, don't do it.

Unwelcome sexual advance
includes requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, where:
Workplace Bullying
is 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.
Work Environment
is the set of all available means of collaboration, including, but not limited to messages to mailing lists, private correspondence, Web pages, chat channels, phone and video teleconferences, and any kind of face-to-face meetings or discussions.


A Member Task Force, Positive Work Environment Task Force [member-only link], is responsible for the evolution of this document.

Send comments or questions on this document to public-pwe@w3.org [publicly archived]. Note: Do not use this list to report inappropriate behavior; use Procedures instead.


The Positive Work Environment Framework took effect 23 October 2014. (Member announcement, Public announcement)

This is the 7 October 2015 version of the CEPC, replacing the 22 October 2014 version.

Changes since last version:


This Code is released to the public domain according to CC0.

Daniel Dardailler, Coralie Mercier

Last change $Date: 2016/02/11 09:50:55 $ by $Author: coralie $
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