The SAGE accreditation pathway

Athena Swan Bronze Award

Athena Swan Bronze Award

Lay your foundation

All institutions start their SAGE journey by applying for an Athena Swan Bronze Award. The Bronze self-assessment and application process guides institutions to:

  • understand the current state of gender equity, diversity and inclusion in the organisation
  • understand the structural, systemic and cultural Barriers that impede attraction, retention and progression, and which thus contribute to inequity and a lack of diversity and inclusion
  • create an Action Plan to remove or reduce five Key Barriers

The Bronze Award is valid for 7 years.

SAGE Cygnet Awards

SAGE Cygnet Awards

Achieve progress and impact

In the 7 years following their Bronze Award, institutions implement their Bronze Action Plan to remove or reduce their five Key Barriers to attraction, retention or progression.

For each Key Barrier, they apply for a SAGE Cygnet Award, which involves reporting:

  • their progress in implementing actions that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound)
  • the outcomes and impact of those actions
  • their learnings from any areas in which the desired progress, outcomes and impact was not achieved
  • any further actions they will take to achieve or sustain the desired progress, outcomes and impact
Athena Swan Silver Award

Athena Swan Silver Award

Re-evaluate your position

Once an institution has achieved five Cygnet Awards (one for each Key Barrier), they may apply for a Silver Award. The Silver self-assessment and application process guides institutions to:

  • understand the current state of gender equity, diversity and inclusion in the organisation, following the actions undertaken after their Bronze and SAGE Cygnet Awards
  • understand the key structural, systemic and cultural barriers that continue to impede attraction, retention and progression, and which thus contribute to persistent inequity and a continued lack of diversity and inclusion
  • create an Action Plan to remove or reduce five (new or continuing) Key Barriers and embed sustainable change

The Silver Award application process and criteria are still under development. Sign up to our newsletter to hear about upcoming consultations.

Athena Swan principles

SAGE uses the following version of the Athena Swan principles, which have been adapted for the Australian context.

In becoming SAGE subscribers, institutions commit to upholding these principles.

  1. Ensure that gender equity, diversity and inclusion work is appropriately resourced, distributed, recognised, and rewarded.
  2. Undertake transparent and rigorous self-assessment processes, analysing institutional structures, systems, and cultures to identify the barriers to attraction, retention and progression for staff and students, and thus to gender equity, diversity and inclusion.
  3. Design initiatives based on institutional data, and national and global evidence of best practice.
  4. Monitor, evaluate, and publicly report on progress made, challenges experienced, and impact achieved, to inform continuous improvement.
  5. Actively incorporate Indigenous knowledges and perspectives to address the specific inequities and injustices experienced by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander staff and students.
  6. Consciously consider all genders, recognising that gender is not binary, and that trans and gender diverse people face specific inequities because of their gender identities.
  7. Take an intersectional approach to advancing gender equity, diversity and inclusion, recognising that people of any particular identity are not a homogeneous group.
  8. Engage with those most impacted by inequitable practice to proactively redesign and reshape structures, systems and culture.
  9. Increase the safety and wellbeing of staff and students by proactively and transparently preventing and responding to bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, gender-based violence and discrimination.
  10. Embed change in institutional governance and accountability structures; actively and visibly champion and promote gender equity, diversity and inclusion in our Institutions, the Athena Swan community, and across the sector; and hold ourselves and other senior leaders accountable for driving sustainable transformational change.

The principles were updated in 2021 to reflect learnings from the Pilot phase as well as recent refinements to Athena Swan in the UK.

How are applications for SAGE Athena Swan Awards assessed?

Applications for accreditation are reviewed by experienced and independent peers with diverse expertise and lived experience from across the Australian tertiary education and research sector.

The robustness and credibility of our peer review process is one of the reasons that SAGE Athena Swan accreditation is so highly respected worldwide.

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