Diversity and inclusion

Inclusion and diversity are not just words to us – they are core values entrenched in our everyday activities. We are committed to ensuring that our people can contribute their skills and abilities in an inclusive environment where they can fully be themselves daily.

The differences between our backgrounds, personalities, educational attainments, life experiences and beliefs make each of us unique. Your identity powers our mission – we need people looking at challenging problems from different perspectives.

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?

Our success is based on the brilliance and ingenuity of our people. An inclusive culture is essential to achieving the Australian Signals Directorate'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.

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 LGBTIA 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 LGBTIA+ 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 community
  • 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 teammates 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.
  • Practise active listening and regularly clarify my understanding of what I’m hearing.
  • Acknowledge the contribution of teammates, and link 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