IÉSEG’s letter of commitment against violence and discriminations: what is the outcome?

In November 2020, IÉSEG launched a letter of commitment against all forms of violence, harassment and discrimination. Two years later, what is the outcome of these actions? On the occasion of the international day against violence done to women, Coline Briquet, Equality and Violence Prevention Officer at IÉSEG, invites you to discover the different initiatives put in place.

Can you remind us what this letter of commitment consists of?

In 2019, a working group made up of administrative, teaching, and student staff conducted a reflection on the actions that the School could develop for the prevention of violence. Our approach has also been enriched through meetings and exchanges of best practices with other Grandes Ecoles and Universities, through the Conférence des Grandes Ecoles (CGE) network and the Conférence Permanente des chargés de mission Egalité Diversité (CPED).

In January 2020, the Management Board approved the working group’s action plan, comprising some 20 actions focusing on four areas: training, protecting, empowering and committing. Finally, these commitments were announced to the entire IÉSEG community via a letter of commitment published on the School’s website.

What has the School put in place to welcome people in situations of violence, harassment or discrimination?

One of the priorities of the School has been to fully commit to the implementation of a support unit for students, made up of 6 referents who have benefited from specific training, and under the coordination of an Equality and Violence Prevention Officer. An information brochure for students has also been created to give more visibility to the unit. For the year 2021-22, the support unit managed 20 reports.

At the same time, for the administrative and teaching staff, a “Fight against Sexual Harassment and Sexist Behavior” referent has been appointed within the Human Resources department (Delphine Sellier) as well as a referent within the Social and Economic Committee (Hélène Kempynck).

What does the School offer in terms of training and awareness-raising for students?

IÉSEG has created training courses in different formats.

VSS - carré

Aaron AMAT / ©

Since 2019, at the initiative of the Student Federation, specific training for association representatives has been introduced. They focus on the role they can play to prevent gender-based and sexual violence (SGBV) , and harassment, and help a student who is a victim or witness. In September 2022, 200 students took an initial 2-hour training course. 20 students (“associative executives”) have taken the additional 3-hour in-depth training to become SGBV Referents at parties and events.

In parallel, IÉSEG has also created an online training module (SPOC) “Prevention of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence” of 2.5 hours of activities, in French and English, which is mandatory for all first-year students. Since 2020, nearly 2,600 students have completed the module. According to the satisfaction questionnaire, 96% of students are satisfied or very satisfied with the SPOC, and 83% consider that this SPOC has improved their knowledge on the subject.

IÉSEG also wishes to integrate further these themes into its courses. For example, since 2020, a lecture on gender violence in marketing and advertising has been introduced in the Consumer Behaviour course offered in the Master PGE Marketing, the International MBA and some Post Graduate Programs. 400 students have already attended this workshop.

Finally, the School has also created a documentary collection within its two libraries, specific to SGBV and discrimination, with some thirty reference works.

The School had undertaken to modify its internal rules and certain internal procedures. What has happened?

The School has indeed revised its internal rules to better integrate the prevention of violence. A new disciplinary procedure specific to student behavior and the prevention of violence, harassment and discrimination has also been put in place, as well as a more effective system for reporting such violence. Several students have already been sanctioned by the School (including accountability measures and exclusions) on the basis of these new procedures.

In addition, in accordance with the recommendations of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the French Human Rights Defender, IÉSEG has implemented a procedure to allow students who wish to do so to change the first name and/or gender identity that appears on internal documents and communications. This procedure is intended for transgender students, but also for any student who feels prejudiced and/or uncomfortable about his or her first name. The objective is also to prevent any form of discrimination. Between January and September 2022, 4 students have already benefited from this procedure.

How are students associated and involved in the prevention of violence?

The School encourages its students to develop their own initiatives, within the framework of courses, collective projects or associations.

In September 2022, after 18 months of work, the IÉSEG representatives at the BNEM proposed a Charter of Student Responsibility against Violence and Discrimination, in collaboration with members of the Student Federation and members of the administration. Nearly 6,000 students have already signed it.

AEIP and AEIL also organize an annual “awareness week” and invite a prevention association to the VSS. Note that there are two specialized student associations that also regularly organize events on equality issues: IESEGALITE (LGBT) and WOMEN IN BUSINESS. There are many student initiatives such as the “M’harcèle pas” project or the Wonder Woman project, which intervenes in high schools, etc.

Finally, in the spring of 2022, with the support of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, an awareness poster and video contest was organized for students from all programs. It allowed for the organization of an exhibition on our campuses and the creation of a communication campaign designed by and for students. The six winning projects addressed various themes: LGBTphobias, GHB danger at parties, sexual assault and rape, school bullying and cyberbullying, and gender discrimination.

What are IÉSEG’s next projects?

These different actions have allowed IÉSEG to receive the “Responsible Campus” trophy in January 2021. But we consider that there are still many initiatives that can be implemented and improved (notably on the visibility of the support unit).

The School has set three main priorities for 2023 and 2024.

Until now, the School has mainly developed awareness for students. From 2023 onwards, it wishes to increase awareness among teaching and administrative staff. The new Sustainability strategy will include mandatory training for all staff, particularly on issues of diversity, equality and inclusion. In particular, a module will be offered on “How to react to SGBV and LGBTphobia at work”, based on an educational game created by the Agence Nationale pour l’Amélioration des Conditions de Travail (National Agency for the Improvement of Working Conditions), “Sexisme sans façon”, and an e-learning module offered by SOS homophobie.

Secondly, we would like to conduct an analysis and reflection of certain actions that have been implemented, by asking our students about their experience and impressions. From a first survey, we know for example that some students do not dare to contact the listening unit. We would like to better analyze this situation to reassure students and encourage them not to isolate themselves.

Finally, like many schools and universities, IÉSEG will launch a survey in 2023 on the issues of discrimination, sexist and sexual violence or harassment in the context of studies. We hope that many students will respond to this survey, which will allow us to better understand their study conditions and student life.

For any questions about this article: Coline Briquet,

To contact the support unit: