Ombud’s Corner: “Summertime – and the living is easy…”

Summer is the time when everybody feels more relaxed and, while we continue to work hard, we also take the time to pause and get to know our colleagues better. This is a very natural and effective way to re-energise. However, let’s not forget that we remain ‘Cernese’ at all times, and that CERN values continue to guide our interactions even at this time, whether we are at work or enjoying a well-earned break.


Summer at CERN is a wonderful time: instead of just emptying for holidays, the Laboratory welcomes a lot of young – and not so young – people from all over the world. The pleasant weather invites people to gather on the lawns or other common areas to have a drink or meal together. The hostel doesn’t take a break, nor do the restaurants and all these popular gathering places are usually buzzing with people at all hours of the day and well into the night.

As important as these times are for networking and building worldwide contacts within the scientific community, they are also times for us to discover different cultures and learn about how other people work and interact with each other.

Indeed, as these are times when many people come and go, spending short periods of time at CERN, we need to be particularly aware of our different backgrounds, sensitive to the impact that our actions have on one another, and not let a more relaxed atmosphere allow us to fall into inappropriate behaviours, as has unfortunately been known to happen on occasion. If this should happen, however, and if you find yourself subjected to any kind of sexist remarks or bullying or intimidating behaviour, do not hesitate to recall the CERN values, ask a colleague for support in doing so if necessary or seek assistance from your Ombud.

This awareness is particularly relevant when it comes to interacting across the various diversity fronts, keeping in mind aspects such as the fact that some cultures have a more direct communication style than others, avoiding off-colour jokes of a sexist or nationality-based nature, taking the time to understand each other's perspectives, ensuring that minority groups or individuals are included in our interactions in a respectful and sensitive manner and yes, just generally remembering that the CERN Code of Conduct applies to us all regardless of the time of the year or the type of activity in which we are engaged.

Whether we plan to stay in this Organization for only a few weeks over the summer or we expect to be here for many years, our interactions with our colleagues will always play a rich and vital part in our CERN experience and memories – let us all work together to ensure that this remains a positive time for all, long- or short-term colleagues alike!

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All previous Ombud's Corners can be accessed in the Ombud's blog.

by Sudeshna Datta-Cockerill