How are we behaving?

It’s almost two years since CERN introduced a Code of Conduct. The results may not be immediately measurable, but I’d like to think it’s made the lab a better place to be. The Code of Conduct is based on values that most of us immediately identify with, and so implementing it comes as second nature. Nevertheless, in an organisation of over 10,000 people, it’s useful to have a set of guidelines and there have been occasions on which it’s been necessary to remind people of them.


I use the figure of 10,000 advisedly since the Code of Conduct applies to us all, those on the CERN payroll as well as users of the lab’s facilities and people working for CERN contractors, as long as they are acting on CERN’s behalf. The Code also applies to us whether we are on the CERN site or anywhere else. CERN is a major presence in the region. The way we behave can have a significant influence on how our neighbours perceive us, and how the lab relates to key local partners. To take one, seemingly innocuous, example, green plates make some of us very visible, and though we all drive just as courteously as anyone else, that fact means that whenever we’re behind the wheel we have to remember that we’re ambassadors for CERN. It’s no accident that I’ve chosen this example: CERN has been held to account on just this subject on more than one occasion.

So I’d like to use my message this week as a reminder of what our Code of Conduct is about, and what it is not. The code is not a rigid set of rules, but rather an ethical framework built around the Organization’s core values of integrity, commitment, professionalism, creativity and diversity. It describes the basic standards of behaviour that we can expect in the workplace, and is a practical guide to advise us in our conduct and treatment of others.

The Code of Conduct applies to all of us. Following it not only makes CERN a better place to be, it also helps foster mutual understanding and promote the level of esteem in which we’re held and hold others. And don’t forget that the CERN Ombuds, a role created at the same time as the Code, is there to help in case of need. Differences between colleagues arise all the time in any work place, and most of the time can be resolved without recourse to a third party. The Ombuds is there for the rare occasions when that’s not possible. The Ombuds’ mandate is to provide guidance in the application and interpretation of the Code of Conduct and to offer confidential assistance on interpersonal issues.

To conclude, I’d like to encourage you all to take a few minutes to re-familiarise yourself with the Code of Conduct, and to read the Ombuds' messages. After all, by keeping the Code of Conduct fresh in our minds, we can all contribute to ensuring that CERN remains a great place to be, and a respected part of the local community.

Rolf Heuer