LeTSGEPs’ project aims at developing Gender Equality Plans of our RPOs within a Gender Budgeting perspective. A significant part of each partner’s activities consists therefore in implementing GEP measures, some of which may be defined “Best Practices” because of their innovative approach. Thanks to a scientific methodology developed by LeTSGEPs’ partner ICM, we selected a “Best Practice” measure for each of our six partners, and we are now very happy to share them with the RPO’s community.

In this post you find the presentation of the Best Practice N. 3 by our Partner MPIN (Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, now MPI for Biological Intelligence – Germany). You can find the other Best Practices at these links: ICMMISANUCYUNIMEUT.  

Should anybody be interested in further details, please contact us: info@letsgeps.eu 



BEST PRACTICE TITLE: Mandatory trainings on prevention of sexual harassment for all employees at MPIN

 The Context and the Identied need(s)/ Inequalities addressed

Sexual harassment happens all too often at workplaces and is strikingly underreported. Thus, two surveys on the occurrence of sexualized violence, harassment and discrimination were conducted in the years 2019 – 2021 at the MPIN. In accordance to the general statistics, there were incidents of sexual violence and harassment being reported in the surveys.

 Best Practice Description:

MPIN organized mandatory training by external speakers on the following topics:

  • (Un-)appropriate behaviour between colleagues and between superior and subordinates
  • Ability to detect gender-based discrimination and violence, knowing national and MPG-internal regulations
  • What to do when affected, what to do as by-stander
  • Where to get support, complaint procedures

The first event was divided in three parts: 1. Talk in English, 2. Talk in German, 3. Workshop for leadership personnel

The talk developed contents like:

  • Definitions and examples of different forms of discrimination, harassment and violence (including quiz to test knowledge),
  • Strategies of perpetrators,
  • Effects on and experiences of affected persons,
  • Ways to fight back for affected persons, ways to help affected persons,
  • Information on basics of law on the subject and
  • Reporting system and responsibility of the organization

Important parts of the workshop were:

  • Discussion on examples of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and possible ways of intervention
  • Exchange on cases that the participants had experienced themselves or heard about
  • Role play: an affected person opens up to her/his supervisor: How to react, find the right words and give support

Main achievements:

Two thirds of institute members participated in the first event.

There was a lot of positive feedback on the content of the event. It closed relevant gaps in the knowledge of participants. Especially the role play exercise in the workshop received high praise. It became furthermore clear that a significant part of the participants did not know the MPG-regulations on the matter and how to report cases. The event was consequently followed by e-mails to all institute members with information about regulations and contact points in the MPG.

Additionally, following this workshop and discussions between PhD students’ representatives, postdoc representatives, and the GEO office, the decision was taken to create a simple website, accessible by anyone, that would list all the different persons to contact regarding different issues with discrimination, harassment, or other work-related problems. On this website there will be the possibility to download and fill out a complaint form, to describe the events that happened. The people filling this form can be either the victims or the witnesses of abuse. They will also have the possibility to remain anonymous. This was set up after research on what other institutions have created for reporting issues, and after many discussions among students, postdocs and directors, on how to best implement this system.

Strengths of the measure/action and key elements for success:

  • It was communicated to all Institute members that the participation was mandatory. A second round of events is planned to allow participation for everyone who was not available to join the first round. Yearly events are then planned for all new institute members.
  • Collaboration with the local counselling center for women who have experienced gender-based violence
  • Role play of realistic situation in science: PhD contacts PI and reports on sexual harassment on conference
  • Long-term financing of trainer fees ensured due to regular budget for GEOs
  • Accompanied by improvement of reporting system

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash