Our commitment to equity and gender equity is based on a concrete program of strategy and action under Athena Swan. We focus on removing entry barriers using substantive equity practices with diversity and intersectionality as key principles.

Achievement Relative to Opportunity (ARtO) is an equity enabler, essential to the equitable positioning of women and diverse talent in academia. Most higher education institutions apply ARtO to Academic Promotion, yet few organisations have embedded ARtO across the employee lifecycle. The sector is still grappling over how to apply ARtO in recruitment, performance review, and other talent management practices. RMIT investigated the application of ARtO beyond academic promotion to other areas of the employee lifecycle, specifically recruitment.

Evidence from ARtO in academic promotion shows that it can improve career outcomes and retention for staff by changing the paradigm in decision making away from the traditional concept of ‘merit’. Changing traditional methods of evaluating merit in the employee lifecycle has the potential to allow women and people from diverse backgrounds to be fairly evaluated and shift the dominance of people who have experienced little or no career interruption.

The study design included:

  • A consultation process
  • Review of Academic Promotion implementation and practices
  • Embedding ARtO in recruitment (guidelines for hiring managers, information for candidates on external careers site, training for recruitment teams, job advert language and application process design.)


The process was piloted with the newly established ARC Centre of Excellence – Transformative Meta-Optical Systems (TMOS), in conjunction with the use of Special Measures for women, trans and gender diverse, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants.

The learnings from the pilot were subsequently applied to a large excellence in research campaign, in conjunction with the use of Special Measures. This is RMIT’s most complex recruitment process.

Within TMOS, ARtO and Special Measures recruitment resulted in high engagement with the process. Many applicants activated ARtO in their applications including a third of the shortlist. ARtO gave the hiring managers a key understanding of diverse career journeys and impacts on track record. Insights from the TMOS ARtO pilot informed the establishment of a new Career Reconnect Fellowship offered to three women in 2021 allowing these women further upskilling, connection and opportunity for reestablishment of their research career.

We also saw positive uptake of ARtO in the large recruitment campaign for excellent in research. Following the implementation of ARtO and Special Measures, we have seen greater diversity in applicants than previous years. Out of all 2021–22 appointments, 76% identified as female (used she/her pronouns). Out of all successful applicants, 41% utilised ARtO demonstrating its uptake and its utilisation in appointments. Inclusive of this data is the appointment of one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellow.

RMIT is now developing a consistent ARtO employee experience, with adaptations for academic promotion and recruitment, as part of a phased implementation. Key considerations include further education for those applying ARtO for increased uptake where appropriate and reinforcing the cultural change required for everyone to feel safe in its application.


  • Kay Latham, RMIT University
  • Carol Corzo, RMIT University
  • Mat Lewis, RMIT University


  • Madhu Bhaskaran, RMIT University
  • Maddy Yewers, RMIT University
  • Amy Love, RMIT University