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Speak Out Guardians (For staff)
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.
Find out more about the advisors and how to contact them
Speak Out Guardians
The Speak Out Guardians are also members of staff who have volunteered to undertake the role. They 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 University Executive Board (UEB), the network of Dignity and Respect Advisors, and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team.
Their role is to:
Act in a Dignity and Respect Advisor capacity if a member of staff comes forward to talk.
In this respect, they can
- provide a supportive, confidential and informal environment in which to discuss issues regarding harassment and/or bullying
- provide information on the options that are available
- assist those seeking advice in thinking those options through
- empathise without judgement
- accompany individuals at meetings in an informal capacity or under their ‘right to be accompanied’ (providing all parties involved are in agreement)
- if appropriate, signpost to other sources of support/advice
However, they cannot
- make decisions for the individual seeking advice or ‘fix’ their situation
- take action against the alleged harasser
- mediate or negotiate between the individual seeking advice and the alleged harasser
- provide counselling (staff can access counselling via Spectrum Life)
- give directional advice
- meet with individuals seeking advice outside of office hours or outside of University premises
In addition, Speak Out Guardians also
- 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 Inclusion 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
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
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 personal experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and my professional experience as an anthropologist have 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, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic 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
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.
Natalia Lopes de Araujo
Administrator (PGR Support), Research Services, Doctoral College
It is a wonderful and impactful opportunity to be able to serve as a Speak Out Guardian. I hope to be able to assist my fellow colleagues in any difficult situation relating to inappropriate behaviour they might face which could potentially be hindering their career progress and/or feeling of belonging in the University community.
I have been a member of the Race Equity (formerly ‘BME’) Network since the beginning of 2020, participated in the first cohort of ELEVATE (a leadership and development programme for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women across the GW4 partnership), and have participated in initiatives such as the Race Equity Network/ SMG Anti-Racist Book Club and assisted with the creation/promotion of the Race Equity Network Newsletter. I have been a member of Professional Services since 2018 and have previously also held positions within the Residence Operations and Accommodation Office teams.
I am mixed race and moved to the UK from Brazil in 2016. In Brazil, I participated in many anti-racist initiatives and helped to run an Anti-Racist group within the City Council of Belo Horizonte.
My aim as a Speak Out Guardian is to provide a confidential and non-judgemental space for colleagues where they can voice concerns, using the knowledge I have regarding University policies and procedures and other support mechanisms to support them to seek a resolution, whilst more broadly helping the development of a culture which is more inclusive and welcoming for all.
Available from April 2023
Head of Finance Professional Services
It a privilege to be appointed as a Speak out Guardian and help give people a voice, where they don’t feel they have one.
I have personally contacted the Speak out Guardians in the past as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and my positive experiences of having support and having my voice amplified inspired me to apply for the role and provide the same experience for other people. I have been at the University for 16 years and am on my fifth different role. Throughout my time here I have experienced first-hand that the best working environments are ones where people feel heard, respected, and valued. I am passionate about social justice issues, particularly in marginalised groups, and hope to meaningfully use this role to advocate for and support people who feel discriminated against.
Whilst at the University I have also been Professional Services Council Representative, which provided me with insight into how the University runs, and what the best approaches are to incite meaningful change, which I think will help with this role.
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.