The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) has developed a toolkit to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in fostering a more diverse and inclusive workforce. 

The Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Toolkit was developed in response to the findings of the Women in STEM Decadal Plan, co-written by ATSE and the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) in 2019. The Decadal Plan found that the tools available to science and technology SMEs to address issues of gender inequality were insufficient. In response to these findings, ATSE held a workshop with SME leaders to discuss the challenges these business face in relation to gender equity. 

The outcome of this workshop was the production of the D&I Toolkit, focusing not just on gender equity, but diversity and inclusion more broadly. The D&I Toolkit explores the moral, legal and economic imperatives behind diverse hiring, and emphasises how workplace diversity boosts business performance. The Toolkit then delves into a reference guide on how best to Recruit, Retain, and Reach a diverse workforce. 

Recruit is designed to assist SME leaders in understanding and addressing the barriers preventing diverse talent from applying. This section also includes suggestions and resources to ensure recruitment processes are inclusive, accessible, and mitigate bias. 

Retain discusses the different approaches to making the workplace more inclusive, accessible, and respectful, to ensure SME’s can retain a diverse workplace. 

Reach helps SMEs ensure promotion activities are inclusive, and guides leaders to adopt best-practice promotion and professional development opportunities to all employees. 

The D&I Toolkit is currently a digital-only tool; however there is the possibility it could be developed into an interactive website in the future. 

The D&I Toolkit is now being piloted, with 10 businesses unique in size, function, and capacity working through the toolkit at their own pace until the pilot concludes in June 2022. Throughout this pilot stage, each of these businesses are being offered the opportunity to provide monthly feedback, as well as the opportunity to schedule a meeting with the ATSE team. This allows the SMEs to share their progress to date or ask any questions that may have arisen as they have worked their way through the Toolkit. 

At the conclusion of the pilot stage, each business will be asked to complete a final evaluation of the project. This evaluation will be completed in line with the Australian Government’s guide for evaluating STEM gender equity programs. This feedback will then be incorporated into the final version of the D&I Toolkit, with an aim to publish and launch the Toolkit in late 2022. 


  • Lachlan Blackhall 


  • Candice Raeburn 
  • Nicola Smillie 
  • Leeanne Bond 
  • Gunilla Burrowes 
  • Adi Paterson