ASD Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2019-22

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connections to land, sea and communities. We pay our respects to them, their cultures and their Elders; past, present and emerging. We also recognise Australia's First Peoples' enduring contribution to Australia's national security.

Message from the Director-General

As Acting Director-General of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), I am committed to having a diverse and inclusive workplace. It is imperative for ASD to be an environment where our culture is one of belonging, and we recognise individual difference as fundamental to our success.

The future success of ASD and its mission is inextricably linked to our capacity to attract and retain the best possible talent. ASD recognises that diversity is about what makes each of us unique, including our background, personality, educational attainments, life experiences and beliefs. We are committed to ensuring that our employees can contribute their skills and abilities in an inclusive environment and we will achieve this by actively seeking to remove structural, attitudinal and behavioural barriers to inclusion.

Since ASD was established as a statutory agency in July 2018, we have made progress in key areas, such as increased representation of women in leadership at the senior executive level, and through our graduate program. We continue our strong commitment and investment in the future ASD workforce through our broad range of student opportunities. Our partnership with the Girls Programming Network is a reflection of our determination to increase female representation in technology-based careers. Flexible working arrangements are now offered for all of our civilian roles, and we are working towards greater uptake of flexible arrangements by all our people.

Increasing diversity through our recruitment processes is simply not enough—we must also focus on the development, progression, and retention of all people and hold ourselves and each other to account for our biases. We must work hard to identify and dismantle structural barriers, and challenge our old ways of doing things.

Inclusion is a central tenet of the ASD culture. It is what gives all ASD people a sense of belonging and united purpose.

Inclusion and diversity are not just words—they are entrenched in our core values. I expect each of us, no matter what our level, role, or function, to be allies, to actively promote inclusive behaviours, to be a voice amplifying those of minorities, and to challenge negative behaviour when we see it. These actions will ensure we truly belong to a great team.

Lieutenant-General John Frewen DSC, AM
Acting Director-General
Australian Signals Directorate


What is diversity and inclusion?

Our society provides a rich example of diversity for us to model, where inclusion is driven by behaviours that deliver a sense of belonging. 


All the differences between people in how they identify in relation to their:

  • Social identity: age, caring responsibilities, culture, disability, gender, background, sexualities, and socio-economic background. 
  • Professional identity: profession, education, work experiences, and organisational role. 


Inclusion occurs when a diversity of people (e.g., of different ages, cultural backgrounds, genders) feel valued and respected, have access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute their perspectives and talents to improve their organisation. 


Intersectionality describes the way diverse dimensions of a person's identity interact to create unique experiences of advantage and disadvantage in different contexts. Being inclusive of difference is strengthened by paying attention to individual experiences. 

Icon of a person with red outline
"I identify as a millennial man who has autism and is a technologist."
Icon of person solid black colour
"I identify as a lesbian woman, from an Anglo-Christian cultural background."
Icon of person black outline
"I identify as a Ngunnawal man, who is a new dad and works part-time."
Icon of person solid red colour
"I identify as an executive leader and grandmother who has Indian heritage."

What is our diversity and inclusion mission?

Diversity and inclusion is critical to achieving a workplace where people can reach their full potential, enabling delivery of our mission. 

Vision statement

We commit to a respectful and inclusive workplace where it is safe for our people to bring their whole selves to work. 

Our strength, resilience, and creativity derive from our different ages, backgrounds, caring responsibilities, cultures, genders, neurodiversity, physical abilities, religions and sexualities. 


  1. We leverage diversity and inclusion to power ASD's mission.
  2. We attract, develop and retain a diverse workforce.
  3. We exemplify a culture of inclusion and belonging. 
  4. We empower our diversity communities. 
  5. We measure our progress and hold ourselves accountable.

These goals are supported by diversity and inclusion action plans.


  1. Diversity and inclusion are integral to organisational strategies and objectives.
  2. ASD attracts and retains a diverse range of Australians and we are considered an employer of choice.
  3. Our employees contribute their unique perspectives to achieve organisational outcomes and strengthen our collective intelligence.
  4. ASD diversity communities have the frameworks and support to develop initiatives that raise awareness and build a sense of belonging.
  5. ASD consistently evaluates and addresses systemic barriers to achieving a thriving, diverse and inclusive organisation. 

Where are we starting from?

ASD's success is based on the brilliance and ingenuity of our people. An inclusive culture is essential to achieving ASD's mission.

  • Everyone is responsible for strengthening our inclusive culture, and leveraging diversity and inclusion to improve the way we do business.
  • Leaders drive inclusive behaviours as role models, supporting and championing our diversity communities.
  • Our diversity communities provide specialist advice and work with wider ASD to ensure we achieve genuine progress together.

We are on a diversity and inclusion maturity journey. Change requires commitment and courage to hold ourselves accountable for progress and missteps.

In 2019 our diversity and inclusion maturity was approaching a compliance focus, which is the second stage of five in a journey towards a fully embedded level of diversity and inclusion. We assessed ourselves against three best practice areas:

  • leadership commitment and the current cultural climate
  • availability of support to critical talent segments, and
  • the management of diversity and inclusion as a function.
The levels for diversity and inclusion organisational maturity are; Level 1 - Reactive, Level 2 - Compliance focus, Level 3 - Programmatic, Level 4 - Strategically Aligned, Level 5 - Fully embedded. ASD is approaching level 2.

Most organisations are at the early stages of maturity when considered holistically, with few rating beyond mid-point Level 3. There are strong examples where maturity is higher but this tends to be focused on discrete diversity dimensions. 

How will we increase our diversity and inclusion maturity?

We are committed to:

Our leaders being accountable for modelling inclusion and driving behavioural change.
We will:

  • implement targeted strategies to improve the representation of diversity at all levels and across all workforce segments
  • maintain a Diversity and Inclusion Team
  • monitor and transparently account for our diversity and inclusion progress and achievements.

Building awareness and appreciation through education and training, to ensure everyone has a great experience at work.
We will:

  • make diversity and inclusion competence part of our professional development so that we may support inclusion with confidence.

Removing barriers and unintended consequences of ASD policies, procedures and frameworks.
We will:

  • conduct an audit of ASD policies, procedures and frameworks to eliminate structural barriers, biases and potential blind spots.

Supporting and growing employee diversity communities.
We will:

  • establish and maintain SES champions for all ASD diversity communities
  • provide governance, resourcing and infrastructure to support diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Our current diversity and inclusion focus

ASD is focusing on diversity and inclusion to progress our cultural maturity, support thriving teams, be an employer of choice, and deliver strategic advantage. 

Our progress

Flexible roles and keeping in touch

ASD is committed to supporting our people in maintaining a positive work-life balance, and we take an 'if not, why not?' approach to flexible work. We also have established outreach programs and policies to support people who are absent from the workplace, such as those on parental leave or secondments.

Gender and sexuality

In 2018, ASD achieved gender parity in our Senior Executive Service, growing from an initial 30 percent within the year.

While we still have more to do, ASD undertakes a broad range of internal initiatives to improve gender equality at all levels and across all disciplines in our organisation. 

In 2018, members of our Senior Executive Service undertook Ally training with Pride in Diversity. In 2019, ASD received participation status with the Australian Workplace Equality Index, which is the first step of four tiers in AWEI's LGBTI inclusion employer support program. 


Externally, ASD supports a range of national efforts toward encouraging students toward careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and improving the representation of women in these fields. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

ASD is developing a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan. This marks our commitment to deliver on the Government’s objective to ‘close the gap’ between Indigenous Australians and the wider Australian community and contribute to our national reconciliation journey. 


In 2018, internal engagement events were conducted with ASD’s Senior Executive Service team to discuss neurodiversity in our organisation. The neurodiverse community delivers many of the personal traits and professional disciplines required by ASD and we are seeking to ensure our workplace is inclusive of neurodiverse people.

ASD diversity and inclusion communities

ASD grass roots diversity and inclusion communities currently represent a broad range of diversity dimensions.

Established support for our diversity communities

ASD+ Network

ASD+ provides tailored support to LGBTI+ employees and promotes a safe, respectful and equitable workplace. They work to enhance the awareness, culture and reputation of ASD.

ATSI@ASD Network

ATSI@ASD provides tailored support to Indigenous Australian employees. It promotes the development of ASD's cultural competency, and supports ASD to engage with Indigenous affairs.

Parenting outreach program

The parents community keeps in touch with those on parental leave, and supports employees with their parenting responsibilities, including returning to work and using flexible work arrangements.

Women's Leadership Council

The Women's Leadership Council champions principles and initiatives to help drive equitable gender representation at ASD across recruitment, recognition, retention and representation.

Developing support for our diversity communities

We are working with more of our diversity communities to better address any access and equity barriers to their success and sense of belonging in the workplace. This includes the establishment of new champions and community supports, such as networks.

Communities that we are working with include our:

  • Neurodiverse communit
  • Multicultural community
  • Accessibility and differently abled community

We all have a role to play in creating an inclusive workplace

As an individual, how can I be a leader in creating an inclusive workplace?

Individuals behaving inclusively and fostering a sense of belonging is essential to realising diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Ensuring we reflect and draw from the widest possible talent pool and that our people feel valued and supported in achieving their full potential is not only the right thing to do, it is imperative to achieving our organisational outcomes.

ASD’s ability to effectively respond to current and future global challenges will depend on the diverse perspectives, skills and attributes of its people.

As a leader of inclusive behaviour, I can…

  • Promote the strength, resilience and creativity that my team derives from the inclusion of people with diverse backgrounds, caring responsibilities, cultures, neurodiversities, physical abilities, religions, genders and sexualities.
  • Model inclusive and respectful behaviours and include these in my professional development.
  • Talk about what inclusive and exclusive behaviour looks like with my team and colleagues.
  • Ask my team mates for advice about what I can stop or start doing to be more inclusive.
  • Commit to noticing and addressing my own and others’ exclusive behaviour.
  • Be open and curious in exploring ideas that are different from my own.
  • Practice active listening and regularly clarify my understanding of what I’m hearing.
  • Acknowledge the contribution of teammates, and linking back to them in my own comments.
  • Get involved in our diversity communities by attending events and/or becoming an ally.
  • Ask a colleague from a diversity community to review my work from their different perspective.

“Diversity delivers a richness of talent. Inclusiveness empowers us to excel.”
ASD diversity and inclusion champion Lieutenant General John Frewen

Acknowledgement of Country icon

Acknowledgement of Country
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connections to land, sea and communities. We pay our respects to them, their cultures and their Elders; past, present and emerging. We also recognise Australia's First Peoples' enduring contribution to Australia's national security.

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra