Breaking Silence: Confronting Harassment in Our Community

Steve Wade
2 min readMar 23, 2024

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Context:
This incident relates to a female at Kubecon EU 2024 who opened up to me on Friday to make me aware a male attendee harassed her.

In the vast, interconnected world of technology, conferences serve as bustling hubs for innovation, collaboration, and networking. These events, such as KubeCon, bring together minds from all corners of the globe, fostering an environment where the future of tech is discussed, debated, and designed. Yet, beneath the sheen of technological advancement and community building, a persistent, pernicious issue threatens the fabric of inclusivity and safety these gatherings aim to promote: harassment.

This week, I came across a troubling case of harassment at KubeCon. This was a sharp reminder that despite the progress we claim to have made in creating safe, welcoming spaces for all attendees, a significant amount of work remains to be done. The incident casts a shadow over the event itself and prompts a critical examination of the culture within tech communities and the companies that operate within them.

The individual involved in this recent case and the company he represents should not be allowed to escape accountability. We must not let this matter get brushed under the carpet, as has happened too often in the past. Silence and inaction in the face of harassment only serve to perpetuate the cycle, emboldening offenders and further alienating those who are already underrepresented and marginalised in tech spaces.

I strongly advocate for a stand that goes beyond just condemnation. It’s time to enforce tangible consequences for those who violate the principles of respect and dignity that should underpin all professional environments. Banning the individual responsible for the harassment from future conferences is necessary, but it should not stop there. The company that employs this individual must also be held to account, as its culture and policies (or lack thereof) contribute to the behaviours of its representatives.

Such measures may seem strict to some, but they are crucial in sending a clear message: harassment will not be tolerated in any form, and the tech community is committed to ensuring that all participants in conferences and beyond can engage freely without fear of being demeaned or endangered.

As we look forward, let us use this incident as a moment of reflection and a catalyst for change. It’s time for conference organisers, companies, and individuals alike to implement and enforce stricter anti-harassment policies. Training and awareness programs should be mandatory, and clear, accessible reporting mechanisms must be implemented. Furthermore, the tech community must foster a culture of allyship, where bystanders are empowered to intervene and support those experiencing harassment.

Let this be a turning point. Let us transform our outrage and disappointment into decisive action. By doing so, we can ensure that tech conferences – and the industry – are spaces where innovation thrives on the principles of respect, equality, and safety for everyone.

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