Red lanyards mean “No photos, please”

Each year at Mozilla, we host two, week-long company “All Hands” events where we bring together, in one location, about 1,100 employees from around the globe. With 40% of our staff working remotely and the rest from one of 12 offices across three continents, the IRL relationships that result from bringing us together every six-months are an essential part of our culture and critical to how we get work done.

From a practical standpoint, planning and executing any event for this many people, this often, is a big deal. Doing it for Mozilla is an even bigger one. Similar to how we might design a new Firefox feature, service or app, part of our event-planning process requires we ask ourselves — is what we’re making, down to the last detail, a clear expression of what we value as an organization? The same values that guide our work and what we produce also guide how we think about our employees.

Like many of the people who use Firefox, our employees value being able to choose — with clarity and confidence — what information they share with whom. One of the ways we look out for this, when hosting our All Hands events, is by offering our attendees the choice of a white or red lanyard. White lanyards mean you are okay being photographed. A red one means you are not. Wearing a name badge is required during our events so a colored lanyard is a very visible way to communicate a preference without having to say a word. It also makes it easy to spot and remove any photographs that may have been taken by mistake.

Our event team typically hands out about 50 red lanyards per event. For some, having their image show up online is a real security threat (think stalking). For others, keeping their image off line is simply preferred. Truth is, why an employee, or a member of their family who might be attending one of our social events, might select a red layard over a white is less important than offering people the choice.

Like with our work, Mozilla’s values don’t necessarily tell us what to do but rather remind us of how we should do it. Making red lanyards available to our employees and their families as part of our semi-annual events is a small but tangible manifestation of just what we mean.

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