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25% by the end of 2025

Diversity is a core value for CERN. Its rich, collaborative work environment brings people together from all over the world to work toward a common goal. Reflecting this value across its many dimensions is key for CERN as an international organisation, both towards its Member States and the wider community.

25 by ’25 is a CERN-wide endeavour.  The commitment and efforts of each Department, in close collaboration with the D&I Programme will contribute to the overall progress. Just as collaboration is key to CERN’s scientific success, so it will be in this domain as well.

A specific commitment to this is included in the European Strategy for Particle Physics 2020 Update: “The particle physics community commits to placing the principles of equality, diversity & inclusion at the heart of all the physics community’s activities”. 

Strategy Endorsed by Management

In March 2021, after many months of collaborative input, strategic planning, drafting and re-drafting Louise Carvalho D&I Programme Leader made a 10 minutes’ pitch to CERN’s Enlarged Directorate (“ED”: Director-General, Directors, Department Heads), seeking an endorsement of a first-ever nationality and gender strategy at CERN: “25 by ‘25”.

On 9 March 2021, the ED gave a resounding endorsement of the initiative and the implementation of 25 by ’25 was set in motion.


Over the years, in particular since 2012, the D&I Programme with the support of the Management has put in place a number of important and innovative policies, actions and learnings to increase awareness and address biases in relation to diversity in the workplace.  Nevertheless, the overall gender distribution across the Staff and Fellows population has hovered around 20% women for the past decade. 

The start of the Director-General's second mandate in 2021 was the right time to try a targets-based, leadership-led strategy, with a view to accelerate the gender and nationality diversity across the population of employed members of the personnel. 

Primary objectives of the 25 by ‘25 initiative:

  1. To increase the percentage of women in the Employed Members of the Personnel from 21% (as of 31 December 2020) to 25% by the end of 2025, with a particular focus on STEM;
  2. To improve the ratio of Member States’ budget contribution to hiring rate. In this context, where the concentration of one (or more) nationalities exceeds 25% in any Department or departmental Group, the Department’s management team will assess the needs of the service and whether efforts to diversity nationality should be made going forward.  


Appointment of Departmental Focal Points

As a first step, the 11 Department Heads plus the IR Sector + HSE were each invited to appoint at least two diverse Focal Points within their Departments. Their task was to lead the initial implementation phase. 

Departmental Review Exercise

The Focal Points established Focus Groups and internal discussion sessions in order to carry out the  “25 by ‘25 Diversity and Inclusion Departmental Review Exercise”. This exercise was an opportunity for the departments measure their respective diversity and inclusion maturity level across 7 benchmark categories, using the global benchmark standard, “Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Benchmarks” as a basis.  The 7 areas of review were:  

  1. Recruitment,
  2. Career, Evolution and Retention
  3. Benefits, Work-Life Integration, Wellbeing and Flexibility
  4. Leadership and Accountability
  5. Communications
  6. Learning and Development

These areas were rated according to GDEIB 5 progress levels from Inactive (Level 1) to Exemplary (Level 5). Overall, the average across most departments in most area was around Level 2, “Reactive”, ie. “ A compliance mindset where actions are primariily compliance-oriented in relation to relevant internal policiies and societal trends. The Category ranking highest was Benefits, Work-Live Integration, Wellbeing and Flexibilty. 

Focal Points shared the results with their Department Head and management teams. Their Review Exercise reports also include a number of policy recommendations to the D&I Programme. 

You can read more about the GDEIB benchmarks on their website.

Departmental Fitness Plan

Following the Review Exercise, the Department Head were invited to review the 25by’25 Action Menu, designed by the D&I Programme.  Each Department selected at least 2 new actions across each Benchmark Category for implementation during the 25 by ‘25 mandate.  The 25 page Action Menu document contained a table describing the Action, implementation suggestions, and the support to be provided by the Organization.

The resulting compilation of actions chosen, including timeline for implementation per department is the “25 by ‘25 Department Fitness Plan”.

The one action chosen by all departments is the appointment of a “Diversity & Inclusion Officer”.

More material can be found at the Launch Webinar of Diversity and Inclusion 25x25 (English)

Tracking Progress: Gender Diversity at CERN









Data source: CERN, 31.12.2023

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