Ombuds’ corner: Open door and confidentiality

For the Open Days, CERN will be transparent for all visitors. It's also the occasion to remember that the Ombuds' door is fully open every day of the year for all persons working for or on behalf of CERN.


The door is open, but as soon as it's closed for a discussion, the office becomes a place where total confidentiality is preserved. This may appear as a contradiction, no? The Ombuds is available to help everyone in all circumstances, but his clause of confidentiality prevents him from acting without the consent of his “visitors”. How can he possibly resolve the in-house conflicts in groups, or units, if all the parties do not voluntarily participate in its resolution?

The answer is clear: the job of the Ombuds is to help the parties resolve their conflict by themselves. He will provide a few rules of communication, a process of mutual respect, suggest some possibilities that the parties may want to follow, and mediate the dispute so that people may work and collaborate in a respectful way. It's like putting oil in a rusted engine to unjam it, but, that being said, the parties have to provide the fuel to start moving. If one side does not want to make it work, the process stops. The Ombuds can only help resolve a dispute if the various parties recognise that there is a problem. They must engage each other and work in good faith with the Ombuds, and focus their will towards a positive resolution. It's essential that the parties have an open mind.

The Ombuds' door is open to everything: discussions, coaching, help, even compassion in difficult circumstances, and most importantly it is open to listen to you.

Let us take the occasion of these Open Days to remind ourselves about a culture of open minds, not only in research and administrative responsibilities, but in human relations. We are proud of showing our activities and successes to the public, which is great. In the same rein, let us also proudly show ourselves and the public that we work in a respectful workplace environment. Science, education, transfer of knowledge, along with the highest human respect among ourselves, inside our Laboratory and with all our users, will convince people that we are doing ethical research, open for the world and useful for humankind. May the spirit of these days open all our minds in that direction!

Contact the Ombuds Early!


As a reminder, all previous Ombuds corners can be accessed in the Ombuds blog.

by Vincent Vuillemin