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Open Code of Conduct

Open believes in a world where people of all cognitive abilities can function to the best of their potential. We are proud to be part of a diverse and inclusive team, and make every effort possible to be equitable. We know that systemic barriers don’t give the same opportunities and chances to everyone, and that our own behaviours are critical to build a safe and inclusive team and work environment. That is why we have created the following code of conduct to help each other be accountable and learn from mistakes. 

Our team currently includes persons who self-identify as being members of three of the four designated groups as defined by the Employment Equity Act (i.e., women, persons with disabilities and racialized minorities). Our team also includes first-generation immigrants, academics from various age groups, as well as members of the francophone minority. As a first-generation student and academic, Virginie Cobigo also strives to recruit students from low-socioeconomic status households. 

Virginie performs annual reviews of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion practices with trainees, researchers and partners, particularly members from underrepresented groups. We identify our strengths, potential gaps and solutions to address these gaps. Reviews include questions about systemic barriers or microaggressions that may occur within the team. 

Open’s values: Inclusion & Equity, Reciprocity & Mutual Support, Diversity and La Francophonie.

Inclusion and Equity

  • We strive to work with the persons who are most concerned by our work and give back to them and the community. 
  • We will work together for months or years. Friendships will develop among members of the team. We will all make sure that these relationships don’t exclude other team members from social events or growth opportunities. If you feel left out, please reach out to Virginie or a team member. 
  • Virginie considers equity when sharing resources and funding. It means that resource allocation might not feel equal, but may be fair. However, if you feel that resource allocation is unfair, please reach out to Virginie. 
  • You can reach out anytime to Virginie who will always respond to your phone calls or emails. Your annual evaluation is also a time when Virginie will ask you questions about inclusion and equity in the team. 
  • Some of us may require accommodations for various reasons (e.g., disability, caregiving and family responsibilities). We try to remove as many systemic barriers as possible (e.g., flexible working hours), but this might not respond to the needs of individual team members. Please make sure to reach out to Virginie to discuss your needs.
  • Team members are invited to become accessibility allies and report any accessibility barriers (e.g., broken automatic doors, lack of ramps, inaccessible language or visuals) to relevant offices, on campus and in the community. 

Reciprocity and Mutual Support

  • We share credits among team members.
  • We celebrate success and accomplishments. 
  • We share resources and tips and learn from each other. 
  • We reach out to team members who might experience distress or discomfort. If you experience distress or discomfort, we invite you to reach out to a team member or Virginie. 
  • We all need to rest. We respect everyone’s time off and their right to disconnect. 
  • Some of us might need flexible working hours. We may email team members outside of their preferred working hours. They will reply at a time that is convenient to them. 

Diversity and La Francophonie

  • Our team members come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or identity is unacceptable. We are opposed to ableist, racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic behaviour and language.
  • We use gender-neutral language and inclusive language in our communications.
  • We respect diverse cultural practices.
  • We are mindful of microaggressions. We recognize subtle, often unintentional behaviours, comments, or interactions as harmful and damaging. We are also mindful of overt, intentional prejudice and discrimination, racism, homophobia, or sexism.
  • We all read examples of microaggressions on The Micropedia.
  • If you observe or are a victim of discrimination or microaggression, please follow these steps (source):
    • Redirect the interaction with the goal of immediately stopping the conversation to prevent further harm from occurring. For example, you could say: Let’s take a break now. I’m concerned that the language used may hurt someone. 
    • Ask probing questions to the aggressor to help them understand their statements and actions and how they can be perceived as rude, threatening, or harmful. For example, you could say: You say that (name) doesn’t look like they have a disability. What do you mean by that? 
    • Values clarification involves identifying shared organizational values and conveying to the aggressor that their actions or statements are not aligned with these values. For example, you could say: In our team, we are committed to values of inclusion, diversity and equity. We respect and value each other. Do you think that what you said aligns with our values? 
    • If the person still fails to recognize that they might have been harmful or discriminatory, express your own thoughts and feelings. For example, you could say: I feel hurt by what you said. I feel like you think people with disabilities don’t have the same rights as people without disabilities. 
    • Suggest a next step to the perpetrator of micro-aggression: remind them to read the resources included at the end of this code of conduct. If relevant, encourage them to make a genuine apology to the person(s) who might have been hurt, acknowledging the next steps to prevent future microaggressions.
    • If these steps did not help, please communicate with Virginie who will evaluate the situation and take further actions, as relevant. Further actions may include meeting with the perpetrator or microaggressions, emphasizing our values and directing them to appropriate resources, or revising internal policies and procedures to prevent future discrimination. In the case that the perpetrator repeats these harmful actions, they may be asked to leave the team. 
  • If someone says you said something that may be hurtful, first genuinely apologize, take responsibility and reflect on what you said using the resources below to educate yourself.
  • Team members may prefer to express themselves in English or French. Everyone is welcome to choose their preferred language in communications with the team and Virginie. 

Useful Readings and Resources

Article: How to Respond to Racial Microaggressions When They Occur

The Micropedia disability category

University of Ottawa Human Rights Office accessibility resources

Mental Health and Support Resources: 

  • Ottawa Mental Health Crisis line (available 24/7): 613-722-6914 
  • Crisis line outside of Ottawa: 1-866-996-0991 
  • Good2Talk Post-Secondary Student Helpline: 1-866-925-5454 
  • Canada Suicide Prevention Service (available 24/7): 1-833-456-4566 
  • Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa: 613-234-2266 
  • University of Ottawa Mental health services 
  • University of Ottawa protection services: 
    • To report an emergency: 613-562-5411 (or ext. 5411)
    • Non-urgent matters: 613-562-5499 (or ext. 5499) 
  • University of Ottawa sexual violence support and prevention
  • University of Ottawa office of the Ombudsperson


We have been working with Open for over a year and it has been a pleasure; Open offers a professional, fast, efficient, detailed, and conscientious path to engaging neurodiverse communities as advisors for corporate related accessibility projects.

Nadia Hamilton, CEO, Magnusmode

We work with Open in order to develop a cognitively accessible medication management application. They provided us with a wealth of expertise regarding cognitive disabilities and accessibility while ensuring we received input directly from persons with cognitive disabilities.

Dinis Cabral, CEO, JLG Health Solutions

It is always a pleasure to work with you and your students! They were quite remarkable throughout the process. They were available, accessible and certainly their report today was spot on.

Caroline Granger, Director, Valor & Solutions