Interview with Florence Françon, Equality and Anti-Discrimination Officer

Interview with Florence Françon, Equality and Anti-Discrimination Officer

Wed, 10/11/2021


Florence Françon joined ENS de Lyon on October 11th.

Florence Françonhe recruitment of a person in this position was part of the commitments made by the governing board as part of the ENS de Lyon Equality Plan. This Plan was voted by the authorities before the summer, to contribute both to the fight against sexist and sexual violence as well as discrimination, and more broadly speaking, to strengthen the actions implemented for equality within ENS de Lyon. Before her arrival at ENS de Lyon, Florence Françon worked at the Gaston Berger Institute of INSA where she held similar positions. She has a background in sociology and holds a master’s degree in gender studies

The IGÉSR report on sexist and sexual violence at ENS de Lyon has just been published, what are your views concerning the current context at ENS de Lyon? 

It’s true that I have arrived at a crucial moment, in a very sensitive context which demonstrates the keen awareness of this subject, within ENS de Lyon and in the media. It is not for me to comment on an IGÉSR report, however. As Jean-François Pinton said, we will take up the recommendations to improve the existing system, adopting and implementing what’s necessary to achieve our goals. 

You’ve started your position at the same time as new advisors, Natacha Portier and Philippe Daubias. How do you plan to work together? 

The first thing we need to do is to learn to listen to people’s needs, which is already underway with the Management of Sexual and Sexist Violence Training Scheme, which is also in charge of delivering the next 12 webinar sessions for students, teacher-researchers and administrative staff (including 2 in English). This year, ENS de Lyon joined the CPED (Conference for Mission Equality and Diversity), so we will be able to work in connection with the national network of Equality Representatives and Project managers in higher education to pool our experiences and expertise. 

Since you have been with us, what have been your first observations? 

I have had the pleasure of meeting various key players involved in a collective and constructive approach: the departments of ENS de Lyon (the HR, International Legal Affairs Department, the Occupational Health and Safety, Medical and Communication departments), the elected representatives of students and staff and of course the Equality advisors. I learned that there were CNRS equality officers in laboratories and initiatives underway in doctoral schools. It seems essential to me to get to know and work with this network of people involved in the School, to promote our actions and to develop them together. Especially since I'm not starting from scratch as before I started this position, ENS de Lyon had already put into place several measures: a form and a specific helpline address to report sexual and sexist violence, an Action Group that meets every week to deal with individual situations, the setting up of the Prevention Commission with its monthly meetings to help identify issues to be addressed in terms of awareness. As such, several projects have been initiated: the training of stakeholders involved in the action plan and prevention mechanisms, awareness amongst managers, an awareness day for newcomers organized at the beginning of the school year by the elected students as well as a very visible prevention campaign in the School and through their networks. The momentum is well underway. Next week, you will be able to discover the 2nd wave of the poster campaign, including two visuals on the notion of consent and one on the need to react when you witness harassment of any kind. In addition, 12 awareness-raising webinars will be organized in November and December for students, teacher-researchers and staff. Two sessions in English are planned for students. 

How can you establish a more serene climate concerning Sexual and Sexist Violence at ENS de Lyon? 

Firstly, the news shows that the theme of sexist and sexual violence, and more broadly speaking, violence based on gender, are facts of society. It is therefore essential that an institution like ours manages this through awareness-raising and training, which not only encourage victims to speak out, but also represent a strong lever to create a culture of equality, shared by the entire ENS de Lyon community.
We know that these subjects are intimate and taboo, talking about them is also intense. The first objective is to build trust and work collectively. For this to happen, we must talk about the subject, to raise awareness, to create an environment where the victims won’t feel alone but will dare to express themselves. Only identified cases can be dealt with, it seems obvious, but things improve by talking about them. This is the role of the Action Group who studies the reports that Natacha Portier, Philippe Daubias and I receive. Therefore, any person making the request can be listened to and supported in a caring and confidential framework, and this, in a global perspective of fighting against discrimination, situations of violence and harassment.

The other aspect of your position concerns professional equality between men and women, what are do you intend to achieve on this subject? 

As part of the 2021-2023 Professional Equality Plan voted last June, it is a question of ensuring the follow-up and implementation of the actions identified by the project committee and the management committee, through four issues: career development and pay gaps, access to career development and professional responsibilities, organization of professional and personal life, the prevention and fight against discrimination, sexist acts, violence and acts of harassment. Here too, close collaboration with the people involved in this movement since the first half of 2021 and the departments concerned by this approach seems essential to me. I therefore intend to continue making contacts and appointments internally, to work collectively, through an integrated and cross-cutting approach to equality.