Updated June 2021—The recent controversy over the 2020 Turing Award winner has highlighted how giving an award to someone who has systematically made a field hostile for others not only prevents the advancement of the field, but also perpetuates the harm itself.
Because of this, the SIGCHI EC has provided the following guidelines for all SIGCHI individual awards including but not limited to: SIGCHI Awards and SIGCHI sponsored conference awards (e.g. Impact Awards). These guidelines do not apply to paper awards that are based on the merit of the work and may unfairly punish the collaborators or student co-authors.
- Ensure more voices are heard during deliberation: The best way to do this is to ensure the awards committee represents the breadth of HCI community members. Diverse teams ensures that publicly known harms are brought to light during discussions.
- Due diligence phase: The process for considering candidate awardees should include a due diligence phase that answers the question: Has this person publicly engaged in activities which embody hateful, discriminatory action? This must include a formal search in the ACM’s violation database for those who have incurred ACM sanctions precluding them from being able to receive an award. This should also include an Internet search and reading through recent tweets or blog posts to exhaust publicly available information to the extent possible.
- Be comfortable with not honoring someone. No one is entitled to an award. “Dr. XYZ is renowned for their work but did far too much damage to the HCI community to get the award” is a perfectly sensible narrative.
- Nobody is perfect: The task is not to find awardees who have never made a mistake, nor ever angered anyone that they have power over, but instead identify those who have abused their power over others. However, racist, xenophobic, sexist, transphobic, homophibic, abelist, or other biased remarks and actions that are publicly stated or have been verified by the ACM (e.g. through it’s harrassment investigation process) can be used in decisions.
This is not about creating and implementing a perfect process, just one good enough to, for example, not give an award to someone who has perpetuated harm against those in our community. These guidelines are in place until the ACM (SIGCHI’s parent organization) instills policies that override it.
Thank you to the insightful tweet of Emily M. Bender who provided actionable recommendations. One of the hardest things to do is implement action. So providing real, tangible guidance while taking into account the many real constraints one must work within is always appreciated. And thank you to Nazanin Andalibi for supporting the SIGCHI EC in crafting these guidelines.