As Coro Southern California (Coro) advances its mission to strengthen the democratic process by preparing individuals for effective and ethical leadership, our founding commitment to equip people with skills, knowledge, and networks to collaborate and drive innovative solutions wherever they are requires us to reflect, refine, and develop our practices.
The community policies that follow constitute the official positions and policies of Coro Southern California, guiding all Coro programs, gatherings, events, and organizational actions. Coro reserves the right to amend any of the community policies as necessary.
On March 11, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. In response, Coro enacted a range of COVID-19 policies to minimize exposure to and transmission of COVID-19 and thereby safeguard the health and well-being of Coro participants, staff, guests, community members, and their families. These policies included a Code of Conduct, a vaccination policy, and a waiver of liability.
As of November 2023, Coro has amended the policies to consolidate them into a single COVID-19 Community Agreement. Recognizing that COVID-19 can cause serious and potentially life-threatening illness and that Coro cannot guarantee that you will not become exposed to, contract, or spread COVID-19 while participating in Coro in-person activities, this policy is in place to promote as safe a learning and convening space as Coro can reasonably provide. We ask all Coro program participants, event attendees, staff, and other stakeholders who share Coro-held space to adhere to the following COVID-19 Community Agreement as it pertains to COVID-19.
COVID-19 Community Agreement
By participating in an in-person Coro program, workshop, or event – either as a cohort member, program participant, staff member, contractor, event attendee, and/or event/program guest – you acknowledge the contagious and evolving nature of COVID-19 and voluntarily assume the risk that you may be exposed to the virus and become affected as a result. You voluntarily agree to assume all of the foregoing risks and accept sole responsibility for any expense, liability, illness, injury, disability, or death related to contracting the virus possibly due to your participation in a Coro program or event, absolving Coro of any liability or fault.
You will not attend a Coro program or event if experiencing or exhibiting any COVID-19 related symptoms – to the best of your knowledge – as outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
You acknowledge that you must follow the safety protocols that have been implemented by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department (or other governing public health agency in the jurisdiction of the Coro program or event) that are in place at the time of the program session or event. At the time of the program session or event, you acknowledge that you are not aware of having been exposed to anyone with a positive and/or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 10 days.
You acknowledge that you may be excused from a program session or event should you exhibit any symptoms or behaviors in direct contrast to the Los Angeles County Public Health Department (or other governing public health agency in the jurisdiction of the Coro program or event) guidelines and safety measures. Coro will comply with any COVID-19 rules and policies in place by program and event venues and expects anyone participating in a Coro program and event to also comply. You understand that you may not be admitted to and able to participate in the Coro program session or event if you do not comply with the venue rules.
Coro encourages its employees and anyone participating in a Coro program or event to be fully vaccinated – as defined by the CDC – in consultation with their medical providers. If others participating in a Coro program and event wish to take reasonable additional measures to protect themselves beyond what is required by Coro, the program or event venue, and/or the Los Angeles County Public Health Department (or other governing public health agency in the jurisdiction of the Coro program or event), such as wearing a mask, requesting social distancing, or not wanting to shake hands or hug, etc…, you agree to respect their precautions.
This community agreement will be considered a governing policy and is publicly posted on Coro’s website. You acknowledge that your participation in the Coro program or event is your knowing and voluntary acknowledgement of this community agreement and your commitment to adhering to it.
This statement is an effort to make explicit to the Coro network and broader community our approach to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging and how it connects to our history and mission as an organization. We call this a “living document” because it will be regularly reviewed and updated by staff, board, and network members.
Upon Coro’s founding in 1942, Coro training was developed to prepare future leaders as well as to explore questions about the inextricable links between diversity and the establishment of a thriving democracy. Specifically:
- Are there blocks within human nature that work against the acceptance of diversity, which is so necessary in a democracy?
- Is there a “political intelligence” that any human being, of whatever age, ethnic allegiance, experience and so on, can use to resolve differences and make decisions? (“Coro: Creation, Concepts, Contributions”, 2008 Coro National Alumni Association)
For decades, Coro programs have explored these questions with a fundamental belief that we need more people who can work with and lead people of different backgrounds – and that knowing, appreciating and having meaningful relationships with a diversity of ideas, perspectives, and lived experiences is a requirement for leading in a thriving democracy.
What We Believe
We believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion work is a lifelong commitment and an ongoing process of self-awareness. We believe that our understanding of human identity will continue to evolve and that as leaders we will need to continue to engage and grapple with these questions.
We believe that each person has multiple identities and lived experiences that inform our thoughts, actions, experiences, and decision-making.
We believe that getting stuck in our own echo chambers prevents us from examining or considering how others are experiencing the same reality and only reinforces our perspectives.
We believe that a critical component of effective and ethical leadership is the ability to work and collaborate across differences, and specifically the ability to recognize, embrace, and include the unique qualities and perspectives of individuals across identities.
We believe that thinking critically about the causes and consequences of inequity, the systems that sustain inequity, and how to disrupt these inequities, is required for ethical and effective leadership. A systems perspective aids leaders in understanding and addressing the factors which maintain these systems.
We believe a sense of belonging empowers people to effectively work and lead across differences and that leaders must work to create these conditions. “Belongingness entails an unwavering commitment to not simply tolerate and respect difference but to ensure that all people are welcome and feel that they belong in the society. We call this idea the ‘circle of human concern’” (John A. Powell and Stephen Menendian, “The Problem of Othering: Towards Inclusiveness and Belonging”), We strive to create these conditions in Coro programs and to inspire others to create these conditions across the Coro network.
Our Working Definitions
- Diversity: The presence of a variety of human characteristics and valuing individuals with multiple identities and lived experiences.
- Equity: The practice of providing and increasing just inclusion that enables all people to contribute, prosper, and reach their full potential.
- Inclusion: Creating environments where everyone’s differences are represented and respected.
- Belonging: An experience of psychological safety that allows all people to feel welcome, be able to take risks, and to have a sense that they belong.
Coro is a nonpartisan independent organization whose mission is to strengthen the democratic process by bolstering a community of effective and ethical civic leaders.
As a community, we are saddened by conflicts around the world that are unleashing relentless horror and suffering for millions of people. We hear and hold the concerns, fears, and grief that have been expressed by members of our community.
As a pro-democracy organization, we hope to see flourishing democracies globally with recognition and respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law. While Coro is unequivocally opposed to all forms of racial, ethnic, and religious oppression, we believe it is important that Coro, as an institution, generally refrain from taking institutional positions on complex political or global matters that extend beyond our organizational mission, area(s) of expertise, and our focus on local and domestic issues.
Coro encourages respectful discourse amongst people of different backgrounds. We are guided by our principled belief that the role of Coro in relation to geopolitical events is not to take a position or issue a statement, but to create an environment in which program participants are provided with inquiry tools to exchange ideas and perspectives that are free from organizational orthodoxy.
When considering whether Coro should take a public position in light of world affairs, we are guided by the following set of questions; the answer to each of the below questions must be “yes” for us to proceed with consideration:
- Is this either a domestic or local issue?
- Is this a nonpartisan issue?
- Would taking a public position on this issue be equitable in light of other concurrent/ongoing issues?
- Is Coro’s work and/or the Coro community directly impacted?
- Is this an area in which Coro has expertise/experience or is the development of expertise in this area within Coro’s mission?
- Can Coro take action in addition to a public statement?
- Can Coro’s voice and action make a material impact that is mission aligned?
Coro is dedicated to strengthening the democratic process by preparing individuals for effective and ethical leadership. Consistent with this mission, this Code of Conduct has been prepared to outline expectations of community members and stakeholders when engaging with Coro at all events, programs, and in any Coro activities, to ensure an inclusive environment that is safe for all Coro community members and attendees.
At the heart of Coro is a fundamental commitment to respect one another. Coro recognizes that our community members will not always agree with one another. Strong viewpoints and convictions may lead to dynamic discussion and debate. Coro encourages diversity of perspectives, and discussion, and expects all community members to treat one another with respect when these differences arise.
All attendees, speakers, sponsors and volunteers at Coro events are required to agree with this Code of Conduct. We expect cooperation from all participants to help ensure a safe environment for all.
Coro events are dedicated to providing a discrimination-free and harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of race, color, national origin, ancestry, creed, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, religion, genetic information, physical or mental disability (actual or perceived), medical condition, childbirth or related medical conditions, marital status, citizenship, ethnicity, military service status, veteran status, registered domestic partner status, political activity, status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or any other characteristic protected by applicable state or federal law or local ordinance.
Coro does not tolerate harassment in any form of participants or attendees at Coro events and gatherings. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Attendees and participants violating these rules may be expelled from all future Coro events at Coro’s discretion.
In the course of engaging in Coro activities, including programs, events, workshops, and other Coro-led engagements, you may have access to confidential information. Coro believes that in order for leaders to hone their skills, and for stakeholders to contribute to the learning of emergent leaders by sharing their leadership journeys with candor, they must be immersed in safety and knowing they are in an incubator of confidentiality in order to embrace vulnerability.
Coro programs and engagements are designed to grant access to people who work in the highest levels of business, government, and nonprofits. These leaders volunteer to work with Coro and to serve as mentors, interview guests, and more, because they know Coro’s reputation in the community and Coro’s commitment to confidentiality. We want these leaders to share with candor and openness to allow robust learning, so we require strict adherence to the confidentiality policy.
Coro requires strict adherence to this confidentiality policy. Coro program participants and staff must keep any information obtained from community leaders during Coro activities confidential, adhere to this confidentiality policy and ensure that discussions within programs, and with program facilitators and guest speakers are kept confidential from individuals not participating in Coro programs.
All interview guests and other external guests should be made aware of Coro’s confidentiality policy at the beginning of the interview. It is the responsibility of the cohort (or designated member of the cohort, ex: Interview Facilitator) to inform the guests that:
- Coro operates under a strict confidentiality agreement.
- The discussion is solely for the purpose of your learning and/or furthering your/the cohort’s understanding of the topic.
- Nothing they say will leave the bounds of your conversation/interaction.
- Any information they provide that is incorporated into public presentations or external discussions will not be attributed to them personally or to their organization/entities with which they are affiliated.
- They are encouraged to speak freely and candidly
It is the cohort’s responsibility to adhere to this confidentiality policy and ensure that discussions with interview guests are kept confidential from:
- Other members of your household (ex: ensure you are in a private space or area wearing headphones when engaging in interviews via Zoom)
- Other individuals outside the program or event (ex: friends, family, peers, etc.)
- Other interview guests (ex: “we spoke to so-and-so yesterday and they said…”)
If you/ the cohort wish to incorporate information received from an interview guest, you can either:
- Generalize/anonymize the person and their statements to eliminate identifying information and/or refer to them as a member of a broader stakeholder group (ex: “a resident/community member, someone who works in the nonprofit sector, a representative of a local government agency…”)
- Ask the interviewee for explicit permission to share information/quote them (either during the interview or afterwards, in a follow-up email).
- Ask the interviewee for a source where the information is cited (ex: a website, article, etc.) so you can cite the source and not the person.
Please note that for Coro employees, this does not affect any of your rights to discuss protected topics in the workplace.
At Coro Southern California, we believe that meaningful change comes from collaboration. Our mission is to train, support, and connect leaders to foster a thriving democracy and tackle society’s biggest challenges together. Coro graduates gain a deeper understanding of how the world works, the leadership skills to improve it, and a network of engaged and influential peers to help them reach their goals. Working together, we fuel positive change across the country.
Coro programs are designed to incubate space for cross-ideological, cross-boundary and cross-partisan discussion – civil discourse – in service of a thriving democracy. By participating in a Coro program, you understand that you may be exposed to perspectives different from your own, and you agree to participate in cross-ideological discourse with respect, candor and care.
To be civil in conversations demands that we grant respect to the perspectives and interpretations of others, even if we cannot possibly agree with them. At Coro, we ask members of our community to adhere to the following guidelines in order to facilitate civil discourse and hold space for a diversity of perspectives:
- Listen actively, with openness, and with empathy. Recognize that all are here to learn, including learning from each other.
- Assume the best in each other. Recognize the difference between intent and impact. Get clarification before assuming what another person meant or intended.
- Value multiple perspectives. There may be several valid “truths.” Give others space to express their views without facial or verbal reactions. Seek out others with different points of view.
- Have the courage to embrace making mistakes and consider acknowledging mistakes publicly. Learning from inevitable errors is part of a “Growth Mindset.”
- Be aware of your own biases, check your blind spots, and be mindful that we all have different experiences that inform our points of view.
- Do not personalize debate. Use “I” statements and avoid “You” statements. Respond to the substance of the argument and not the person. Though there must be room for significant disagreements and perspectives, no personally demeaning comments should be part of Coro conversations.
- Treat others with kindness, patience, and grace. Understand that everyone will have stressful times and may not be at their best.
- Get to know others as people with valuable perspectives and important lived experiences.
- Work collaboratively. Offer support to others.
- Be your authentic self and give space to others so they can do the same.
- Strive to defuse tense situations. Do not meet incivility with more incivility.
- Reflect before speaking and endeavor to allow others to speak if you have already done so.
- Remain curious about the other person’s perspectives (why does this person hold this position? Why do you hold yours? What are the life experiences that have shaped people’s positions?).
- Accept that you are trying to be understood, not trying to change the other person’s mind. Let this sentiment guide what and how you share.
- Consider expressing humility: A recent study by the Center for Media Engagement at University of Texas at Austin found that adults were more willing to engage in divisive political conversations with commenters who expressed a higher degree of humility. The study’s definition of humility includes “language that acknowledges other perspectives, displays openness to differing opinions, and admits to limitations of one’s own views.” This does not mean that one should downplay their own expertise or knowledge, but rather admit to potential ‘gray areas’ and communicate a willingness to engage (Murray, Duchovnay & Stroud 2021).
- Check your unspoken communication: While the words we say are essential, how we deliver them can be equally (if not more) important. Our body language and tone of voice can communicate an energy of openness or one of distaste and annoyance. It’s important to make sure you are demonstrating your willingness to engage by reflecting on how your nonverbal cues might be perceived.
Civil discourse means that there are ground rules. There are times in Coro programs when participants create the standards for how they will engage with one another, recognizing that rules of engagement are an ethical exercise. In order to foster a space that facilitates civil discourse, Coro and its participants establish group working agreements that serve as the boundaries for engagement. When an event is participant-led (i.e.Issue Days, Coro Conversations, Focus Weeks, etc.), Coro participants will communicate those working agreements to invited guests and inform guests of others who may be participating in their portion of the cohort-led event.