Edith Cowan University (ECU) was awarded their first SAGE Cygnet Award on 4 August 2022 for their work to promote equitable access to flexible working arrangements.

While the Athena Swan Bronze Award is given to institutions for establishing a solid foundation to drive transformational change, Cygnet Awards recognise the demonstration of progress and impact in addressing a specific barrier to gender equity, diversity and inclusion.

SAGE CEO Dr Wafa El-Adhami congratulated ECU on achieving this significant milestone in their SAGE journey to an Athena Swan Silver Award.

“ECU has been a part of SAGE from the beginning. It is encouraging to see their commitment translate into tangible improvements to flexible work, which is a powerful enabler for gender equity.

“Now that over 50% of the Australian higher education and research sector has achieved an Athena Swan Bronze Award, we are entering a truly exciting phase where those institutions begin to see visible change from implementing their Bronze action plans.

“The national recognition that comes from achieving a Cygnet Award adds a strong incentive for institutions to stay the course and continue driving change as they work towards a Silver Award.”

SAGE Chair Libby Lyons also commended ECU and other SAGE subscriber institutions on their commitment to progress.

“The achievements of SAGE subscribers are testament to the impact of the SAGE national accreditation program, especially when sustainable change, flexibility and accountability over compliance are prioritised and become ‘business as usual’.

“SAGE has delivered strong returns on the Federal Government’s investment in gender equity, diversity and inclusion. I look forward to continuing to support the Albanese Government’s progressive agenda to advance gender equity.”

In the SAGE accreditation pathway, Cygnet Awards are the primary mechanism for institutions to report on the actions they implemented and the outcomes, impact, and learnings they achieved as a result of those actions. Cygnet Award applications are structured like case studies on actions to address a specific issue, for example inequitable leave policies or career development opportunities.

“Transparency is one of SAGE’s core values. We committed to publishing all applications for Athena Swan Awards and will be doing the same for Cygnet Awards,” said Dr El-Adhami.

“These applications are a rich source of evidence for what works in gender equity, diversity and inclusion. I encourage everyone to access them and apply those learnings to their own gender equity work. By sharing this knowledge publicly, we will accelerate the rate of change by helping organisations invest in effective, evidence-based interventions.”

Edith Cowan University’s Cygnet Award application is publicly available on the SAGE website.

Read ECU’s Cygnet Award application

For improved readability, ECU’s published application consolidates their original submission and their response to the reviewers’ request for more information. However, the cover page contains links to download both documents separately if desired.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Regional Futures) and Vice-President Professor Cobie Rudd, who leads the SAGE Athena Swan program at ECU, welcomed the opportunity to share more details on ECU’s work.

“The Cygnet Award application provided an excellent opportunity for ECU to showcase the extensive work we’ve accomplished in the last seven years,” she said.

“The SAGE community has always been so collaborative and generous in exchanging knowledge about good practice. We hope that others in the SAGE network—or any organisation for that matter—will benefit from the information we’ve shared. It would be wonderful to see our initiatives and lessons learned being translated to different settings.

“We are delighted with the award, and I am incredibly proud of my colleagues who worked so hard to make the University a welcoming and flexible place for all.”

To learn more about how SAGE award applications are assessed, see the list of Frequently Asked Questions about the peer review process.