Geoscience Australia has received the second ever SAGE Cygnet Award in recognition of their work to develop an inclusive workplace culture.

Cygnet Awards are earned by organisations that demonstrate progress, outcomes and impact in addressing a key barrier to gender equity, diversity and inclusion.

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.

After achieving their Athena Swan Bronze Award in 2020, Geoscience Australia undertook a suite of initiatives to improve their workplace culture, which was identified as a key priority area in their Bronze Award action plan.

These actions included updating their Reconciliation and Cultural Action Plans; setting gender targets for boards, committees and recruitment panels; creating Diversity Champions within the Senior Leadership Team and promoting LGBTQ+ inclusivity and accessibility, by obtaining accreditation as a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace and strengthening partnerships with Pride in Diversity and the Australian Network on Disability.

These actions have had a palpable impact on the organisation. Women’s representation in their senior leadership team doubled from 25% to 50% between 2019 and 2022. The proportion of women in STEM roles increased from 31% to 37.8% in the same time period. Since the changes were implemented, staff also reported more positive perceptions of their organisation’s commitment to promoting an inclusive culture.

Geoscience Australia Chief Executive Officer, Dr James Johnson, said that an inclusive work environment was essential for the organisation to deliver groundbreaking scientific outputs and capabilities.

“This award demonstrates the impact of our efforts to improve our culture, provide a safe and respectful workplace and build a workforce that is representative of the Australian community that we serve,” Dr Johnson said.

“By further removing the barriers that prevent people from wholly contributing to their workplace and to their community, we can draw from the full pool of human talent to solve Australia’s most pressing challenges.

“Geoscience Australia aspires to be a leader in championing gender equity, diversity and inclusion in the public sector. I am very proud of my team for making our organisation a place where employees from all backgrounds can feel like they belong.

“We are particularly proud to be the first public sector organisation to be recognised with a SAGE Cygnet Award. We look forward to continuing to drive change by working towards our four remaining Cygnet Awards and achieving an Athena Swan Silver Award by 2025.”

SAGE Chair Libby Lyons congratulated Geoscience Australia for their achievement.

“This is a really exciting phase for the SAGE program. Our subscribers have made significant headway in implementing their Athena Swan Bronze Award action plans and are now seeing measurable change as a result of those actions,” said Ms Lyons.

Dr Wafa El-Adhami, CEO, SAGE, was also pleased to welcome another SAGE Cygnet Awardee to the ranks.

“We’re delighted to present Geoscience Australia with their well-deserved Cygnet Award. Fostering an inclusive workplace culture is vital for organisational success, as cultivating a culture of belonging increases employee engagement, productivity and retention,” said Dr El-Adhami.

“By sharing the actions they took to create an inclusive, welcoming environment, Geoscience Australia is paving the way forward for others to do the same. We look forward to making their Cygnet Award application available for all to read on the SAGE website and hope that other organisations will make the most of this opportunity to learn from Geoscience Australia’s work.”

Dr Janin Bredehoeft, CEO designate, added her congratulations to Geoscience Australia.

“As I take on this role, I am delighted to extend my congratulations to Geoscience Australia. What this shows is that long-term investment and committed leadership – from SAGE subscribers and the Federal Government – are crucial elements for driving transformational change in gender equity, diversity and inclusion,“ said Dr Bredehoeft.

Dr Bredehoeft added, “The other critical element is the use of systemic, evidence-based approaches like SAGE accreditation. Geoscience Australia and Edith Cowan University’s achievements are great examples of how the SAGE model works for organisations of any size and sector. With these success stories and the right policy incentives, I am optimistic that more organisations will join SAGE so that we will see widespread change in Australia.”


Media contact

For SAGE | Madi Holloway | | 0413 386 314

For Geoscience Australia | | 1800 882 035

About SAGE

SAGE Limited is a not-for-profit company that accredits and grants awards for gender equity, diversity and inclusion. The only national program of its kind, SAGE has enabled significant systemic and cultural reforms in over 40 Australian higher education and research institutions. SAGE’s evidence-based and data-driven program has been independently reviewed and is acknowledged as world-class.

SAGE’s impact extends beyond the tertiary education and research sector. SAGE collaborates with many like-minded organisations to support initiatives aimed at addressing systemic barriers to gender equity, diversity and inclusion.

About the SAGE Cygnet Award

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.

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.

About Geoscience Australia

Geoscience Australia is Australia’s pre-eminent public sector geoscience organisation. It is the nation’s trusted advisor on the geology and geography of Australia and applies science and technology to describe and understand the Earth for the benefit of Australia.