Ombuds Annual Report

I recently presented the 2017 Ombuds Report to the CERN Management, and then to TREF, and I would like to outline the main points for you here. This report covers the work of my predecessor, Sudeshna Datta Cockerill, during the first ten months of the year, as well as the period from 1 November when I took on the role.

Since the Ombud’s Office has been in existence, about one hundred people come to see the Ombud every year. In 2017, more than half of these people were staff members (both LD and IC), a proportion that is very close to the figures from previous years. By contrast, the number of fellows and students who visited the Ombud rose significantly and this trend seems to be continuing in 2018. This increase is undoubtedly linked to the significant rise in this population within the Organization over the last ten years. As in previous years, the male-female ratio remains balanced. However, if this figure is correlated with the number of men and women working at CERN, we see that three times more women than men came to see the Ombud.

As was the case in previous years, hierarchal disagreements represent the majority of cases discussed with the Ombud. Examples of issues raised in this connection are lack of respect by supervisors, communication problems and difficulty delegating. However, I would like to make the point that the vast majority of supervisors at CERN manage their teams with respect and professionalism. Furthermore, it is important to remember that there are many support systems in place at CERN to help supervisors to manage their teams.

The second area of concern was compliance with CERN’s Code of Conduct, followed by conflicts between colleagues. The Ombud also regularly receives complaints regarding sexist attitudes and inappropriate behaviour, primarily towards women. It is the duty of each and every one of us to combat these negative attitudes in order to ensure an untroubled and safe work environment for our female colleagues. 

I would like to conclude by highlighting that, year after year, those who consult the Ombud say how happy they are that the office exists. The confidentiality guaranteed by the Ombud is a necessary measure to ensure that everyone can talk about their problems freely. Many visitors insist that their visit remains confidential, for fear of possible repercussions on their careers. 

Any organisation that puts support systems in place for the most vulnerable, as CERN has done, demonstrates a clear commitment to creating good working conditions. I encourage you to make the most of these services.

Pierre Gildemyn

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