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Speak Out Guardians
If you would like to speak to someone about your experience we have Speak Out Guardians and a network of trained Dignity and Respect Advisers.
Dignity and Respect Advisors
The University provides a network of Dignity and Respect Advisors, which are members of staff from across the University who have volunteered and are trained to undertake the role. They provide a confidential and informal service for anyone involved in cases of harassment or bullying (including those facing allegations about their behaviour). Advisors can listen, talk through the options available and, if appropriate signpost to other sources of support and advice.
Speak Out Guardians
The Speak Out Guardians support the University in being an open and transparent place to work, where all staff are actively encouraged and enabled to speak out, specifically about any dignity and respect issues. The Speak Out Guardians are independent and are able to listen to employee concerns, identify trends or themes and enable confidentiality at all times (the Speak Out Guardians do share information confidentially between themselves).
They work with the Vice-Chancellor's Executive Group (VCEG), the network of Dignity and Respect Advisors, and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team. You can view the Speak Out Guardians' report on cases in 2018/19 here.
Their role is to:
- Act in an independent and impartial capacity, listening to staff and supporting them to raise concerns (For example, act as intermediaries; ask questions on an individual’s behalf; or accompany staff to meetings if relevant and appropriate)
- Help create an open culture which is based on listening and learning
- Provide expertise in developing a safe culture within the University community
- Continue to develop a range of mechanisms which empower and encourage staff and students to speak out safely alongside the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity team
- Oversee the governance and management of reported issues, ensuring that information about those who speak out is kept confidential at all times, subject to safeguarding and illegality requirements
- Ensure that the University is effectively responding to concerns and supporting staff and students who raise them
- Provide senior leadership and support to the Dignity and Respect Advisor network
- Act in a Dignity and Respect Advisor role if a member of staff comes forward to talk
Get in touch
Staff can contact the Speak Out Guardians in confidence using their details below.
If you are a student who would like to speak to someone in confidence about your experiences, please visit the help and advice page for details of who to contact.
Current Speak Out Guardians
Dr Rachel Fenton
Senior Lecturer, University of Exeter Law School
I was very excited to have been one of the University’s first Speak Out Guardians. The very creation of this role is an important marker that the University is committed to fostering a visible speak out culture.
My work for Public Heath England is all about changing culture and empowering people to speak out about sexual harassment, violence, domestic abuse and related forms of bullying and harassment. I understand the influence of cultural and social norms in maintaining silence both by those being harassed/bullied and bystanders. I have expertise in how to engender cultural change to ensure silence is broken.
I am very keen to use the knowledge and skillset that I have gained in this field to benefit staff and students and to co-create knowledge, resilience and resources to inform the strategic response of the University to foster and empower openness and speaking out.
I joined Exeter Law School in 2017, coming from UWE Bristol and before that, Cardiff University. My research interests lie in the field of gender and law, and prevention of violence against women. My work on bystander intervention for cultural change in universities, The Intervention Initiative, has created significant impact in the HE sector and at governmental level.
Industrial Research Fellow, The Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab, College of Engineering, Mathematics & Physical Sciences
It is a great privilege to have been selected as one of the University’s Speak Out Guardians. As a Guardian, I look to contribute to creating an environment that thrives as people are treated with dignity, fairness and respect, regardless of any personal characteristic.
I have always been an advocate for fairness (a reason I developed fair electric load shedding solutions during my PhD), and believe it is a key driver of a thriving environment. While advocating for fairness, I will also continue to develop myself further in order to perform effectively as a Guardian. In line with this, I recently attended Stonewall’s empowering and explorative Trans Allies programme.
When supporting people within the role, I pledge to create a comfortable environment, listen intently and patiently, be compassionate and empathetic, and be impartial, while also maintaining confidentiality. In all, I desire that my efforts will contribute to an environment devoid of any form of discrimination or abuse and its ill-effects, having had past personal experience of these.
In my main role (as an Industrial Research Fellow at the Impact Lab) within the university, I support Devon-based Small and Medium Enterprises in developing their processes, products and services.
Senior Administrator for Environment & Sustainability Institute
I am honoured to have been selected as a Speak Out Guardian for our Cornwall Campuses and look forward to helping create an open culture where all colleagues are actively encouraged and enabled to speak out, specifically about any dignity and respect issues.
I strongly believe that the key to a successful and positive working environment is a sense of community and shared purpose, and this cannot be achieved unless everyone is treated equally and with respect. Since joining the University in 2012, I have received support and guidance from colleagues, particularly those based in Cornwall, and look forward to giving something back to this community.
I have personal experience of the effect that discrimination can have on people, especially racism and homophobia. These are issues that affected people very close to me and I therefore understand the importance and difference roles like this - that create a safe and open space for staff to talk and get support - can make.
Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, College of Social Sciences & International Studies
I am proud to have been appointed as one of the Speak Out Guardians for our Streatham campus, as I am passionate about issues related to equality, diversity and inclusivity in a professional setting.
My experience as an anthropologist has taught me about the many ways class, gender, disability, sexual orientation and other characteristics can affect identity formation, professional performance and self-belief through the reproduction (and sometimes internalisation) of an ‘implicit bias’. I have researched and taught different forms of ‘intersectionality’ in my work. This has given me insight about the ways discrimination against women, BAME and LGBTQ+ populations can be connected and yet how very different they can be, especially in the ways they are experienced by those affected.
I joined Exeter in 2015, coming from the University of Oxford. My research interests lie in the field of human-animal interactions and social justice. I am a strong advocate for human and nonhuman groups that suffer from various forms of abuse, oppression and discrimination.
View Julien’s staff profile here
The Speak Out Guardians offer a confidential service and any information you share with them will be treated sensitively and respectfully. The Speak Out Guardians work closely together and information may be confidentially shared between them on a strictly 'need to know basis'.
If you meet with a Speak Out Guardian, they may complete a brief, anonymous record of any discussion. Please be assured that all personal and sensitive data is processed in accordance with all relevant data protection legislation.
The Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Team collect routine statistical information about each contact made with Speak Out Guardians. This information is anonymised and used solely for the purpose of identifying trends and themes which are used to inform priorities moving forwards. This information may subsequently be summarised and interpreted in the Equality, Diversity & inclusion Reports to Council.
We aim to maintain our commitment to confidentiality, unless (in exceptional cases), a Speak Out Guardian considers that there is a risk of harm to the individual, another person or the University. In such cases, you will be advised of this before any disclosure is made and information will only be disclosed to relevant parties and all investigations will apply appropriate levels of confidentiality.