LaBRI's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Charter
LaBRI's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Charter © 2022 by LaBRI is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Inspired by and adapted from the IRIF Members' Charter. Parts of this document are automatic translations of its original French version made using DeepL Translator.
This document presents the culture that we, members of the Laboratoire Bordelais de Recherche en Informatique (LaBRI), wish to promote in our working environment, whether on the laboratory premises, at the university, or outside (such as in the context of work trips and committees), for building an environment conducive to research and innovation.
Equity, diversity and inclusion play important roles in the development of quality knowledge. The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has identified that research developed in an unequal context is more likely to have results that are flawed, less relevant, or even distrusted by society (1).
This document, which is intended to be educational, aims to make each person aware of the existence of undesirable situations and behaviours and to question their own behaviour. Even though this charter is primarily intended to maintain a high degree of generality, it mentions situations that may be encountered by certain groups to which we wish to pay particular attention.
In a second moment, the charter uses examples of situations to help readers understand its general points.
The notions of equity, diversity and inclusion are often combined with the notions of parity, gender equality and equal opportunity. The following is a clarification of these three concepts, which will be used in the remainder of this document.
Equity is the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences between groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically or by other dimensions of inequality (e.g., sex, gender, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation) (2). The notion of equity (as opposed to equality) recognizes that equal treatment is not sufficient to take into account the historical background of each individual.
Diversity is about recognising, respecting and celebrating each other's differences (4). These differences include the values, attitudes, cultural perspective, beliefs, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender identity, skills, knowledge and life experiences of each individual in any group of people (3).
Inclusion is about creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued. An inclusive environment can only be created when we are more aware of our unconscious biases and prejudices, and learn to recognize and overcome them (4).
Equity, diversity and inclusion are directly affected by issues of discrimination, harassment and bias. We present their definitions below. The definitions of subjects such as discrimination and harassment are set out in detail in the penal code, in particular articles 225-1, 222-33, 222-33-2 to 222-33-2-3 of the penal code.
Discrimination consists of acts and situations in which a person is treated unfavourably compared to others because of their characteristics (real or supposed). As a reminder, the grounds for discrimination recognized in France (5) include: origin, gender, family status, pregnancy, physical appearance, particular vulnerability resulting from one's economic situation, surname, place of residence or bank domiciliation, state of health, loss of autonomy, disability, genetic characteristics, morals, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political opinions, trade union activities, ability to express oneself in a language other than French, membership or non-membership, real or assumed, of a specific ethnic group, nation, alleged race or religion.
Harassment is characterised by repeated comments or actions that can end up having harmful consequences for the person who is subjected to them. Harassment also occurs when such comments or behaviour are imposed on the same victim by several people. Harassment affects the rights and dignity of its victims, which can lead to an alteration of their physical or mental health. Harassment exists regardless of the existence of a hierarchical relationship between the victim and the perpetrator.
Cognitive bias is a systematic deviation of logical and rational thinking from reality. Cognitive biases are a source of prejudice and can lead to supporting or opposing a particular person or idea in an unfair way, based on one's personal preconceived opinions and not on a logical analysis of facts or reality.
Building an equitable and diverse community
I, as a member of LaBRI, wish to guarantee equal treatment and opportunities to each of my colleagues, thus creating an attractive environment for a wide variety of profiles: fair working conditions; opportunities for good integration in the laboratory with the purpose of harmonious collaborations; and transparent assessments with a strong focus on reducing bias.
I am committed to ensuring fair treatment for everyone in all my decision-making situations, whether in recruitment, employment and working conditions, or career development and progression. In particular, in any scientific or professional assessment situation, I will:
- Remain aware of recommendations to avoid bias and discrimination (even aspiring to participate in training on these topics);
- Help in the constitution of committees with diverse profiles, avoiding, as much as possible, the over-solicitation of minorities;
- Use transparent and objective criteria;
- Systematically declare all my conflicts of interest, even minor ones, whether they are relational, collaborative or hierarchical.
I will avoid any discriminatory act that could, directly or indirectly, hinder the professional career of anyone. LaBRI brings together people with different levels of education and backgrounds, who work for different employers and in different contractual situations, as well as in a variety of professions essential to supporting research. All of these differences must be respected and the laboratory must be an inclusive workplace for all its members, regardless of status.
I commit myself with my colleagues to protect and nurture diversity in my scientific and professional community. I understand that diversity is an asset, both to our work environment and to the development of science. I will remain vigilant in my practices and communications to maintain and value the diversity present in our laboratory, and I will encourage my colleagues to do the same.
The laboratory is a multicultural environment and includes non-French speaking members, notably among its doctoral, post-doctoral and visiting staff, all of whom may find themselves isolated in a solely French speaking environment. I will remain conscious of this fact so as not to discredit the remarks made in a language not mastered by someone, whether it be French or another language.
I will try not to isolate anyone, to actively include all members of our laboratory, and to take into account the presence of each person in any communication. My actions in this sense will include the promotion of inclusive writing (whether by systematically flexing nouns to the masculine and feminine, or any other method) and the presence of texts in French and English in my communications within the laboratory (with at least a short summary in the second language).
Personal dignity, respect for work and people
LaBRI promotes a work environment that ensures personal dignity and a climate of trust and respect, where everyone is welcome and encouraged to express themselves with confidence. At the same time, I understand that each person must reflect on their modes of expression, put themselves in the other person's shoes and question the impact of their behaviour on others. Everyone’s work must be respected. I accept that the points below, without being exhaustive, can harm this climate of trust and lead to moral harassment:
- Repeated interruptions when someone is speaking;
- Attempts at intimidation or undermining confidence;
- Any intrusive or belittling remarks, in particular comments or jokes referring to personal characteristics or stereotypes, whether written or verbal, offending the dignity of the person;
- Behaviour against a person that has the purpose or effect of degrading working conditions that are likely to violate their rights and dignity, alter their physical or mental health, or compromise their future career.
LaBRI also warns of situations of moral harassment which can develop more easily than it seems, sometimes without our knowledge, due to strong psychological pressure or work methods that do not respect each individual’s pace. I will remain vigilant to avoid the following practices, in all contexts (administration, teaching and research):
- Setting unattainable goals without help or intermediate targets;
- Setting deadlines at the last minute;
- Not meeting procedural deadlines;
- Sending multiple emails a day on the same subject demanding an immediate response or making requests without consideration for the person receiving them;
- Making remarks against a minority, suggesting that their success is related to quota policies;
- Imposing my work schedule on others without taking into account their possible constraints, for example, on Wednesdays;
- Threatening retaliation in the event of delay or lack of results.
Protection against sexist acts and sexual harassment
During their studies or their careers, and particularly when they hold temporary positions, women in our scientific community are too often victims of inappropriate, discriminatory or even violent behaviour or comments. These situations are detrimental to their professional lives, and push some of them to abandon or change careers. This state of affairs is partly inherited from gender inequalities in society, and is reinforced by the very low number of women in our community.
These behaviours, whether they are sexist acts or sexual harassment, are mostly targeted at women. Nonetheless, these behaviours can affect everyone in our laboratory, including men, and they can take different forms depending on the situation, especially among LGBTQIA+ people.
Taking into account the prevention policies against sexist acts and sexual harassment put in place by our supervisory bodies, I commit myself to avoid any such behaviour. This includes, in particular:
- The dissemination of sexual, discriminatory or violent statements, images or videos in the laboratory;
- Insistent non-reciprocal attentions, or unwanted solicitations, of a sexual or romantic nature, as well as insistent invitations to go out together despite a refusal;
- Unsolicited physical contact;
- Unsolicited questioning about sexual intimacy, orientation and practices;
- Inappropriate comments about clothing.
Actions, assistance and procedures
Whether you are a member of LaBRI, an invited guest or a visitor, if you are a victim or a witness of behaviours that contradict one of the points in this charter in a professional context, on the laboratory's premises or outside, it is important not to isolate yourself, not to minimise the situation, not to reject it, and to rely on the charter by recalling its principles and examples.
If you wish to discuss a problem, there are several possible contacts who are also available to listen and help you:
- Team or department managers,
- Doctoral correspondents, members of the societal issues committee, members of the laboratory council,
- Parity correspondent,
- Prevention assistant,
- Depending on your employer or host institution, the medical or psychosocial services of the CNRS, the University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux INP, or Inria,
- External partners and associations.
The laboratory’s management team and its director are there to provide help and assistance to any member, permanent or not, of the laboratory.
LaBRI is committed to disclose clearly and fully the means of communication, contacts and possible actions for the protection and assistance of victims or witnesses. In particular, a page on the intranet (link here) lists the contacts related to the issues raised.
Examples related to LaBRI's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Charter
These situations, anonymised and often partly fictitious, seek to make the previously-mentioned principles more concrete. They include hypothetical people with different genders, nationalities or religions to make the examples more tangible. However, they all remain valid for situations including people with other characteristics. This list, which is not intended to be exhaustive, is still lacking in diversity and is therefore likely to be expanded. This list is largely inspired by IRIF members' charter.
Having read this charter, I have the impression that I will never be able to say or do anything in a natural way again.
This charter does not say that we should give up on expressing ourselves or stop being friendly in our workplace. On the contrary, it aims at better relationships and exchanges. It identifies situations that may lead to a different outcome than expected, which may cause discomfort to those we are dealing with. Certain seemingly harmless behaviours can become extremely burdensome when repeated, creating a wear-and-tear effect, especially as the repetition is often invisible from the outside, so that any reaction would seem excessive. In summary, this charter leads us to reflect on some of our behaviours and to discuss them.
When I put forward an idea, I am not heard, but when a more experienced person or a man repeats it, the group considers it. I find this very frustrating, what can I do?
It is important to point out these situations, because the collective unconscious tends to trivialise this type of situation.
Someone points out that I am too passionate or emotional at work. I think that the thing that was said was really hurtful. What to do?
It is important that both parties are aware of their difference in perception of the situation, and that a dialogue is established or that a third party is called in, if possible.
During meetings, one of my colleagues has made disrespectful personal remarks, in a humorous tone, towards another member of the laboratory. This attitude created a tense atmosphere and their behaviour was insulting. How can I react without being seen as someone who has no sense of humour?
One of my colleagues regularly makes jokes that make me feel uncomfortable. What should I do?
A male colleague points out to me how 'lucky' women are that they are under-represented in the community, mentioning the advantage this represents for career development.
In another laboratory, or at a conference, I was the victim of openly racist comments. Everyone seemed uncomfortable, but no one spoke up or contacted me afterwards. I felt very isolated.
Jokes about a personal characteristic are not conducive to a working environment in which people feel welcome and valued. They challenge the dignity to which everyone is entitled. Comments, even in the form of jokes, that are discriminatory or stereotypical can also have the same effect, even if they are not directed at a particular person but at a group that some people may identify with.
It is understandable that the victim does not dare to confront the person who made the remarks directly. They may try to make their feelings or point of view as clear as possible to that person. They can also talk to their managers or colleagues who will support them and take action.
Witnesses have the right to react and point out that these comments are not acceptable. At the very least, they should not hesitate to support the victim. If they feel it is necessary, the victim or witnesses are encouraged to report the event to the laboratory’s parity correspondent or the conference organisers, as appropriate.
I have been asked at work about my position on a major international news event. I feel that I am expected to take an explicit stance on these events because of my real or supposed background or beliefs.
I am from the United States and people often ask me my opinion about different political figures in my country and their actions. I find myself having to research them regularly so as not to appear uninformed.
I come from a predominantly Muslim country. I am assumed to be Muslim myself. They ask me why I don't wear the veil. Or they think I am oppressed, and that I need to liberate myself as a woman.
It is a manifestation of stereotyping to equate a person's beliefs, culture, or adherence to an ideology with their origin or colour. This can be explained to the person you are speaking to and/or you can ask for awareness-raising activities to be organised at your workplace or conference.
My colleagues systematically talk about specific problems during meals, excluding anyone who does not have all the prerequisites on the subject to participate in the conversation. How do I react when I really want to give my opinion or talk about something else?
The laboratory is made up of people from many different professions and scientific fields who all contribute to the life of the laboratory. It is important not to isolate anyone. To avoid this type of problem, we can popularise or broaden the subject of conversation, find a different organisation for meals, or even organise discussion moments dedicated to specific themes.
A male colleague always gives me a kiss on the cheek in the morning because I'm a woman, while another never shakes my hand, even though he does it to the other male colleagues present, on the pretext that I'm a woman. Both of these situations make me feel uncomfortable, so what can I do about it?
When I arrive in a group, I usually greet people I know with a kiss on the cheek or a handshake, but I only say a simple hello to those I don't know as well, perhaps because I am more hesitant about the customs of their culture. I realise that my behaviour may isolate these people.
You have to adapt your greetings to the tolerance level of the person in front of you. Some people do not want any physical contact, or only occasional contact. Some people like to be able to exchange kisses or shake hands with colleagues, or only with friends. Others do not like to be treated specially. When in doubt, it is best to talk about it.
Members of my department often come to pick up my coworker for lunch, but almost never invite me to eat with them, even though I would like to eat with them from time to time.
There is of course no obligation to socialise. Apart from personal affinity, logistically you cannot have lab lunches every day, nor can you invite the whole department to your house. However, care should be taken to include newcomers in order to provide them with a social link for as long as they need one, and to open the social circle from time to time. It is also important to be careful about the message that can be sent if you systematically exclude the same person from extra-professional activities for no apparent reason, especially as that person may already feel left out.
A retired member of the laboratory is still very present. They are now much more available and ready to help with a certain number of tasks, where they could share their skills and "experience": organising events, proofreading articles or administrative documents, etc. They are rarely requested for these activities. They sometimes feel qualified as a "has-been", and often feel distrusted. In short, they hear quite clearly the phrase "why don't you really retire? It would be well-deserved", even if it is not actually uttered. What can each of the protagonists (retiree and laboratory) do?
This is an example of an age stereotype. It is not because you are old that you have to withdraw completely. The laboratory must welcome its retired members and think about the place it reserves for them. The retired person must accept to leave the main roles to younger colleagues and propose without imposing.
A member of the laboratory currently has very heavy personal or professional constraints/difficulties (return from maternity leave, family obligations, illness/disability, major administrative responsibilities, etc.). They have the impression that they are no longer being asked to participate in scientific projects, take on responsibilities, organise conferences, and feel badly about it. However, the close group adopts this position in order to protect them, until they are more available again. Is the member right? What can each of the protagonists (the member in difficulty, the close group) do?
The protagonists need to engage in a real dialogue. This is an example of the stereotype that one should protect members in a difficult professional or personal situation by not asking too much of them, and without really asking their opinion. The person concerned can then describe his or her constraints and express his or her expectations; the group listens to them, suggests ways of adapting (adapting meeting times, for example) and allows him or her to decide what he or she wants to do. The person concerned should feel free to refuse, and the group should remain understanding of this choice.
I am pregnant and people often ask to touch my belly, or they do so directly.
Being subjected to unwanted curiosity about your body makes you feel out of place. The question is already invasive; the gesture without prior request is even more so.
An important scientific result is the result of a collaboration between two people, one of whom is much more scientifically recognized than the other. Following and fuelling a stereotype, the scientific community attributes all the benefits of the result to the more recognised person at the expense of the other. What can be done to counteract this stereotype?
An important scientific result is the result of a collaboration between two people, one of whom is a man and the other a woman. Some colleagues attribute all the benefits of the result to the male author. What can be done to counteract this stereotype? Also, how to deal with the situation when the co-authors are a couple?
The lesser-known or unknown person should be invited to seminars and conferences as a matter of priority. Similarly, if they are not over-solicited, male, female, or non-binary scientists should be invited equally. When talking about this result to people around you, you should mention all the scientists and not just the more well-known person.
The more famous person should also be aware of the shadow they cast over the lesser known person; if not, their entourage should make them aware of this. If invited, they can propose that the other lesser-known person takes their place, explaining why. Finally, if they are asked for a letter of recommendation, they should also explicitly describe the role of the other person in the results obtained.
The lesser-known person should not remain passive and dare to talk about this result and advertise it, without deviation or excessive modesty. When applying for a job or writing a project, they should attribute the results to themselves, using the first person plural to include the more well-known person, without forgetting to mention them.
I'm being asked to sit on a prize jury. I have worked with one of the candidates, but I think I can be objective in my assessment. I therefore do not intend to mention the conflict which would cast doubt on my support, especially as I am the most qualified person to defend their case. Am I wrong?
Any situation of professional or personal conflict of interest must be mentioned. In this case, the chairperson of the jury will be able to decide whether or not there is a conflict. This will avoid discrediting the winner and the whole award process.
I am uncomfortable with my supervisor's attitude. Their communication is ambiguous and lacks empathy: I am never sure if they are criticising me or not, and they never give me clear directions to improve. I feel very affected and start to doubt my abilities. What should I do?
The mentor/mentee pairing is based on a complex alchemy. Trust and transparency are important. If expressing your feelings (in writing or verbally) does not work or seems too difficult, think of going through an intermediary person such as the thesis monitoring committee, the prevention assistant, the doctoral school or the laboratory’s management. If you do not manage to improve the situation, you may have to consider changing supervisors. Finally, it is important to know that setting impossible objectives without providing any help can be considered as moral harassment.
I have the impression that my supervisor does not treat all their doctoral students equally and that I am often excluded from certain projects and collaborations, unlike their other doctoral students.
I have the impression that my supervisor does not treat all their PhD students fairly. They are more friendly and make more jokes with me. This makes me feel uncomfortable.
Differentiating between doctoral students can create a feeling of isolation or exclusion. Even if the research subjects are different and do not need the same amount of supervision, it is essential to behave towards the doctoral students in an equitable manner and to offer them, as much as possible, the same opportunities. As a doctoral student, if you do not understand this situation or if it makes you suffer, do not hesitate to talk about it as soon as possible to your supervisor or to an intermediary.
Intimacy, sexual harassment
I expressed my professional admiration for a female researcher in my field, and my colleagues told me that she was married. I was disturbed and I no longer dare to talk about her.
I was happy to be invited to work with a well-known researcher, but my coworker asked me if they were single. I am not so enthusiastic anymore and I feel sullied by my coworker’s comments.
Distorting interactions to sexualise them is not something trivial, especially in a professional setting. It can ruin relationships, create real discomfort and challenge the professional competence of those involved in the professional community.
How can you express your feelings of love to a colleague without creating a feeling of unease that would be detrimental to the person and their working conditions?
It is best to express feelings in a non-work setting, and without compromising past and future work interactions. It is important to be positive and respectful, allowing for the possibility of refusal, knowing how to hear and to respect it. Finally, it should be noted that repeated solicitations and requests that are neither wanted or accepted can amount to harassment.
How does sexual harassment manifest itself? How do you judge whether a behaviour is tantamount to sexual harassment and whether the limits have been exceeded, whether in the laboratory or at a conference?
The University of Bordeaux has a guide (in French) on this subject. Sexual harassment can be verbal or non-verbal. There does not have to be a hierarchical relationship. Silence is sufficient to show non-consent.
The situation of sexual harassment most often referred to consists of repeated use of any form of serious pressure with the real or apparent aim of obtaining an act of sexual nature. Nonetheless, the following behaviours can also be considered harassment: questioning the other person about their intimacy and confiding in them about their own sex life; commenting on the other person's appearance, dress or behaviour; staring insistently; and continuously imposing one's presence.
At conferences, it is sometimes difficult to find a place to work. The hotel room becomes a working space. How can we invite a colleague or student to work in our room without ambiguity?
Despite all possible benevolence, this situation is prone to be considered sexual harassment and should be avoided. An alternative is to choose a more neutral location, such as a workroom or a public space.
I am supervising the thesis of a person with whom I have, or would like to initiate, a romantic relationship. What problems may arise? Is it appropriate to continue this supervision?
The mentor/mentee relationship is, by nature, asymmetrical. The mentor benefits from a position of authority and trust, and also has an important role in the beginning of the mentee’s career. Intimate mentor/mentee relationships are therefore discouraged: they constitute a conflict of interest to be declared to the Doctoral School and the laboratory’s management. The mentor is advised not to initiate or encourage such relationships. In the case of existing intimate relationships, and in order to protect the mentee, LaBRI recommends that the mentor defer the thesis to a colleague, and will ensure that the contract is maintained.
International openness, understanding of the language
The integration of my non-French speaking PhD students is made difficult by the language problem: around me and in the laboratory, communication is mainly in French. Can I request that the default language be English?
Before recruiting or inviting a non-French speaker, you should have a good idea of their future environment and not hesitate to tell them about it. The laboratory's environment is French-speaking and expressing oneself in French is a right in France, even if everyone in the laboratory makes an effort in their communication. First of all, you should point out the free French courses available at the university and at the CNRS. We should still try to communicate in English in some situations, if only for the essential points; most of us already do this in the context of our conferences or work trips. If we imagine that there may be strong potential difficulties due to language, we must inform the future recruit of this potential issue.
When I make a substantive comment on a piece of work in French (e.g. the organisation or content of a presentation, report, funding application, etc.), I am often rebuked for my French and my accent, or told that in France they do things differently, without answering me about the actual subject. What to do?
Colleagues systematically exclude non-French-speaking visitors from conversations by maintaining their conversation in French, even when the conversation concerns these same people. How can I react, since speaking French is also a right?
If we find that we don't get a substantive reply from our colleagues to our comments, for whatever reason, we must point this out and insist on a response. If, despite this, the situation persists, it is recommended to contact the laboratory’s management team or one of the contacts suggested in the charter. Furthermore, as research is by nature multicultural, it is important to include as many people as possible in an event/meeting... This includes the language used for exchanges. As a French speaker, it is important to be vigilant about this. One way to do this is to continue the conversation in English yourself or to ask for it, as this will always be easier to do than for the (non-French speaking) visitor. In any case, it is always advisable to consult the visitor (without pressuring them) to check their interest in conversing in English, French or another language.
We recommend that long-term visitors take the French courses available at the university to help them on their integration.
I have to write an email that may concern non-French speaking members of the laboratory but I do not have the time or the ability to translate it into English. What should I do?
My level of French does not allow me to understand emails, yet some contain important information and are written only in French. What should I do?
If you are sending an email that may concern non-French speaking members, it is advisable to send it either in English or in French with an English translation. If translating the whole message is too long or too difficult, it is recommended at least to translate the title and to include a very short summary of the content in English at the beginning of the message. For non-French speakers, there are also machine translation tools, which, although imperfect, can give a quick idea of the content and importance of the subject. It is then quite natural to ask a French speaker, for example the person who sent the email or someone from your team, to clarify any ambiguous points.
I am a foreigner and I am regularly invited to dinner at my manager's house. I feel obliged to accept, regardless of my availability, as is customary in my country. To what extent can such an invitation be refused?
I am a foreigner and I love climbing. I am reluctant to join my colleagues and superiors outside of work, as this is not the practice in my country.
In France, outside the professional context, everyone is free to accept or refuse an invitation, or to initiate one. The laboratory members