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Diversity and Inclusion Framework 2021-2023


CEO Introduction 

ARC CEO Sue Thomas

I am pleased to present the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Diversity and Inclusion Framework 2021–2023. The ARC’s Diversity and Inclusion Framework 2021–2023 forms the overarching framework of support for all the ARC’s diversity initiatives. Already we have made great strides in our commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce but there is still a long way to travel. Driven by the ARC Diversity Working Group (DWG), the ARC aims to be a leader of cultural change in the workplace, welcoming everyone to participate in all aspects of life and work.

The ARC firmly believes diversity and inclusion are central to the ARC’s purpose to grow knowledge and innovation for the benefit of the Australian community by funding the highest quality research, assessing the quality, engagement and impact of research, and providing advice on research matters. It is only through embracing people with all of their unique abilities and differences that Australia will succeed in reaching its full potential.

In recent times, there have been many studies illustrating the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Identified benefits of diversity in the workplace include increased innovation and creativity due to the sheer number of different ideas and perspectives that it brings. It also provides employees with a supportive culture where everyone can bring their entire self to work and realise their full potential. If we do it right, it shouldn’t be noticeable, or different, but it will be evident in how we work with each other, with our stakeholders, in the broader Australian Public Service (APS) and the Australian community. For this reason, I would encourage diversity and inclusion in all workplaces and most especially, in the research sector where creativity and innovation should thrive.

While ensuring a diverse workforce within the ARC is a priority, the higher aim is to set an example and be a role model for others. Our next step in this journey is to promote the ARC Diversity and Inclusion Principles within our sphere of influence, encouraging diversity and inclusion within our entire network, including the research workforce. In this way, the impact and benefits that may be realised for individuals and the community will be extended beyond the ARC.

This is the vision that the ARC has for our future and the future of our community. I hope that you will join us on this journey.

Professor Sue Thomas
Chief Executive Officer

Message from our Diversity Champion 

Head shot of Julija Deleva

As the Diversity Champion for the ARC, I am proud of the diversity in our agency and wish to extend my personal welcome to each member of staff who contributes to the significant outcomes of our business in their own individual way. I acknowledge and respect that every person is different and is therefore able to provide a unique and valuable contribution to the organisation.

Since its establishment in 2015, the DWG has successfully promoted diversity and inclusion within our organisation. In 2021–2023 we will focus on supporting 5 key diversity groups: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, People with Disability, Multicultural people, People who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans/Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Asexual (LGBTIQA+), and Mature Age People.

Each key diversity group will have an Action Plan developed, centred around four key aspects aimed at successful cultural transformation into a diverse and inclusive workforce reflective of our community. These key areas include inclusive culture and leadership; supporting and empowering staff; innovative, inclusive, and responsive policies and procedures; and collaborative leaders in research and government sectors. The culmination of these activities will provide a workplace that is supportive and engaging for everyone with benefits to our network and community.

The ARC acknowledges and supports all our diverse groups in our workforce – including people with carer responsibilities, and young people (aged less than 25 years).

Julija Deleva
Diversity Champion
Indigenous Champion


The ARC aims to be a small APS agency leader in promoting diversity and inclusion (D&I). The ARC will provide guidance to all employees and engage with stakeholders to inspire sustainable and transformative change to achieve a diverse workforce reflective of Australian society.

To gain the full benefits of a diverse workforce, the ARC requires a culture that is inclusive, where all employees feel respected and valued. We must challenge our ways of thinking and ways of working, to ensure D&I is a natural part of what we do – embedded in our culture, in our recruitment, and in forward-thinking practices.

The ARC’s values of Genuine. Empowering. Fair. Kind. Trusting. are integral to how we conduct ourselves and our business. The ARC acknowledges these are the foundations to building an inclusive and diverse culture and are everyone’s responsibility in the agency.

As part of the ARC’s commitment to D&I, we are proud members of the Diversity Council Australia

ARC Diversity and Inclusion Principles 

Based on the four aspects identified by the Diversity Council Australia essential to an inclusive culture, the ARC guiding principles will be used to assess the successful implementation of diversity and inclusion strategies within our workplace.

Figure 1: Our Vision for Diversity & Inclusion at the ARC

Workplace Graphic


Inclusive Culture and Leadership

All employees will feel respected for who they are, with the ability to be themselves without judgement. Respectful relationships in the workplace will allow for greater, more honest communication.


Support and Empower all employees

Employees will feel that they belong and that they are valued as individuals and as part of the team and organisation. Employees will also feel connected to the outcomes and goals of the ARC.


Innovative, inclusive policies and procedures 

Employees will feel able to freely contribute their perspective and skills in the workplace. Employees will feel valued as being essential to the success of the organisation.


Be a collaborative leader in research and government sectors 

All employees will be presented with equal opportunities to progress their careers either through promotion, networking events or learning and development opportunities at the ARC. Employees will feel supported by their managers when documenting learning and career objectives and applying for new positions.

Supporting Diversity and Inclusion 

The ARC works hard to ensure D&I practices are included in our everyday operations. The ARC recognises we have greater control over our internal operations; however, we are also committed to supporting diversity and inclusion in the broader Australian research workforce.

The ARC acknowledges that its internal focus on 5 key diversity groups, may not represent the diversity groups that will be areas of focus for the Australian research workforce. One notable difference between the ARC’s employees and the Australian research workforce is in gender balance. Internally, the ARC is comprised of 70% women, with 77% of our Senior Management Group identifying as female. This is the reverse in the Australian research workforce, where 25% of Level E appointments are held by women, as reported in ERA 2018.

The ARC supports all eligible researchers, irrespective of diversity, and is particularly committed to supporting groups underrepresented in the research sector, including women, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers. Grants funded by the ARC through the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP) schemes provide a range of opportunities for researchers, at all career stages, from Australia and overseas and for those who have experienced diverse career opportunities.

Through the ARC research workforce policy framework, the ARC ensures fair and equitable access for all eligible researchers to the funding available through the NCGP. The policy framework includes the ARC Research Workforce Statement, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researchers and Research Statement, and the Gender Equality Statement. Together, these statements articulate the ARC’S commitment and contribution to a strong, diverse, and sustainable Australian research workforce.

Figure 2: Researchers by Indigenous status 

0.98% Indigenous Researchers, 48.97% Non Indigenous Researchers, 50.06% Unknown

Data is based on research applications for funding commencement years between 2016 and 2020. Chief Investigator. Each applicant only counted once in the period. The data collected in relation to Indigenous status is not compulsory.

Figure 3: Researchers by age group

4.34% 30-34, 11.83% 55-59, 12.62% 50-54, 15.24% 45-49, 15.32% 35-39, 1.89% 40-44, 21.89% 60 and over, 4.34% 30-34

Data is based on research applications for funding commencement years between 2016 and 2020. Chief Investigator only counted once per successful applicant.

Figure 4: Researchers by Gender 2018 

0.2% Unknown, 32.55% Female, 67.24% Male

Data is based on research applications for funding commencement years between 2016 and 2020. Chief Investigator. Each applicant only counted once in the period.
Note: Researchers reported as Indeterminate/Intersex do not appear on the chart due to the scale. They represent 0.0148%.

Figure 5: Researchers by Gender 2020 

0.29% Unknown, 35.06% Female, 64.64% Male

Data is based on research applications for funding commencement years between 2016 and 2020. Chief Investigator. Each applicant only counted once in the period.
Note: Researchers reported as Indeterminate/Intersex do not appear on the chart due to the scale. They represent 0.0067%.

Recent research workforce data extracted from the ARC Gender and Research Workforce Report and data extracted from ARC’s Research Management System in relation to ARC management of NCGP funding is presented below.  

Figure 6: Researchers by Gender (not specifically ARC funded).


Inner circle: 2015 data
Outer circle: 2018 data

Note: Employees reported as 'X' (indeterminate/intersex/unspecified) do not appear on the chart due to the scale.

2018 - 44% Female, 56% Male, 0% as X, 2015 - 43% Female, 57% Male, 0% as X

ARC Employee profile

The ARC workforce is a mix of academics, including our Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Directors with strong research backgrounds, approximately 140 career APS employees and a small number of contractors.

Recent data from the APS Employee Census 2021 indicates our small workforce is quite diverse:

  • 70% identify as female 
  • 26% identify as male 
  • 1% identify as X (Indeterminate/Intersex/Unspecified) 
  • 3% would prefer not to say 
  • 4% identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person 
  • 12% identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and/or Intersex (LGBTIQA+) 
  • 11% identify as a person with an ongoing disability 
  • 46% of our workforce has carer responsibilities 
  • 27% of our workforce was born overseas 
  • 40% of our workforce are mature age workers (45+ years) 

The ARC Diversity Working Group 

Since its establishment in 2015, the ARC DWG has brought together a diverse range of ARC employees including but not limited to: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; male, female and non-binary employees; employees who identify with different cultures; people with disability; employees who identify as LGBTIQA+; carers; mature age people, and the ARC Diversity Champion and ARC Indigenous Champion from the Senior Executive level of the agency.

The goal of the DWG is to identify and address any issues arising from our diverse workforce and to recognise and celebrate diversity in the agency. The DWG assists the ARC to engage with its workforce to overcome barriers and ensure we understand diverse groups’ views to inform the development of future initiatives.

The DWG’s objectives are to integrate diversity and inclusion considerations into workplace practices and provide leadership for changing the work culture.

The DWG is responsible for:

  • the integration of diversity and inclusion into workplace practices
  • the Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, which contributes to the publication of the ARC’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)
  • providing leadership and advice for changing the work culture
  • sustaining and supporting work culture changes that are consistent with evolving business goals
  • recognising, supporting and celebrating the diversity of employees working at the ARC
  • maximising agency opportunities for motivating and rewarding employees and supervisors/managers to think about diversity and inclusion in the work environment.

ARC Diversity and Inclusion Principles 

Supporting Diversity and Inclusion through: 

Supporting our employees (internal documents) through:

  • ARC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy 
  • Action Plans:
    • Mature Age Action Plan 
    • People with Disability Action Plan 
    • Multicultural Action Plan 
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan
    • LGBTIQA+ Action Plan 


The ARC Diversity and Inclusion Framework has been developed in compliance with all state, territory and Commonwealth legislation.

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