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The ABC, information technology services and consulting company Capgemini, and community support agency Advance Diversity Services are among this year’s top employers and service providers announced at this year’s Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards held in Sydney.

Capgemini was named ‘Employer of the Year’ for the first time, while management consulting company Oliver Wyman was announced ‘Small Employer of the Year’. Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies (NADA), which is NSW’s peak organisation for non-government alcohol and other drugs services, was named ‘Service Provider of the Year’.

Other top honours went organisations including Dentons, Deutsche Bank, IBM, Woolworths, Coles, the University of NSW and Deloitte, who all received high tiered ranking for LGBTQ inclusion. The ABC was named ‘Most Improved’ and also took out the ‘External Media Campaign’ award. (NB: Full list of award recipients and finalists below.)

Held at the Hyatt Regency, the sold-out event is Australia’s foremost annual celebration of LGBTQ workplace inclusion. It is hosted by ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs, the national not-for-profit LGBTQ inclusion support program for employers, sporting organisations and service providers.

The awards are based on the results of the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) – which is now in its eleventh year – and the third Health + Wellbeing Equality Index (HWEI). The AWEI and HWEI are rigorous and evidence-based benchmarking tools that annually assesses workplaces in the progress and impact of LGBTQ inclusion initiatives.

By participating in the AWEI and accompanying employee survey, employers are able to benchmark their practice against other organisations and obtain annual data on the impact initiatives are having on their employees.

Dawn Emsen-Hough, Director of ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs, said she was proud to see the indices continue to achieve record growth and participation following a year that saw a lot of difficulty and uncertainty.

“Over the past year, we have seen incredible advancements in workplace diversity and inclusion despite turmoil we all experienced on a global scale. It’s incredibly encouraging to see workplaces in Australia continue to remain dedicated and stride towards greater inclusion of our LGBTQ communities,” Emsen-Hough said.

“As we continue to progress, it’s vital that efforts are acknowledged and celebrated, and that we continue to maintain and build upon our achievements.”

The AWEI saw a record 186 organisations across Australia participate this year, and an employee survey attached to the index received 44,915 responses, the highest it has ever received. In its inaugural survey, the HWEI saw over 700 responses from 24 organisations/service providers.

Emsen-Hough added: “Once again, we have record numbers of employers across all sectors participating in the indices. The employee survey that accompanied the AWEI, and for the first time, the HWEI, provides us with a great insight into workplace attitudes towards diversity and inclusion.

“Congratulations to all the award recipients announced today, including those the receiving Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum Employer status, as well as those that received organisational awards. I commend all of them on their significant achievements and for showing great leadership in LGBTQ inclusion.”

“These awards truly give us an insight into the amazing breadth of work being done by so many in making organisations across Australia more inclusive of LGBTQ people and communities.”

Click here to download a PDF version of this media release.

For more information on ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs, go to

Winners from the Australian Workplace Equality Index

Winners from the Health + Wellbeing Equality Index

Individual Awards Categories – Finalists and Winners

How inclusive are our workplaces of trans and gender diverse employees?

Dawn Hough, Director ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs

In the 2020 Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) Employee Survey, 33.572 employees working within organisations active in LGBTQ inclusion responded to questions in regard to LGBTQ inclusion initiatives within their organisation. Of those respondents 20.2% (n6787) identified as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer). 8.61% of LGBTQ respondents (n582), identified as being gender diverse. Of gender diverse respondents, 296 (just over 68%) identified as having a trans history or experience. 40.38% of trans and gender diverse respondents (n235) identified as non-binary.

The survey this year focused on a number of questions specific to the inclusion of trans and gender diverse employees. It sought to (a) provide insight into the general perceptions of those who worked within organisations active in this space and (b) gain a better understanding of the lived experience of trans and gender diverse employees within these organisations.

This article seeks to summarise some of the key findings, however further insight can be gained via the Practice Points articles published on 3rd June :

General views – all respondents (n33,572)

We asked a series of questions in regard to (a) how supportive people were in terms of their employers work in LGBTQ inclusion and (b) how active or proactive people were themselves in terms of their inclusion of trans and gender diverse colleagues and team members.

82.1% of respondents overall supported LGBTQ inclusion activity. 91.7% felt that a gender diverse person would be welcome within their team and treated no differently to anyone else. 86.2% of respondents felt that if a member of their team were to affirm their gender, they would be supported within their immediate team and 86.8% of respondents said they would be comfortable referring to a colleague by a new name or personal pronoun should they affirm their gender.

However in terms of believing that there are more than two genders, only 52.6% agreed. Regardless of this, 78.4% said that they would be comfortable using they/their/them personal pronouns for a non-bineary person at work.

On the topic of all gender or gender netural toilets, a topic that tends to divide people more than any other, we do see some decline in support. Disappointingly only 78% of respondents said they would be comfortable with the inclusion of an all gender or gender neutral toilet on their floor even if male/female toilets were still available. Not surprisingly then, the support for all toilets being changed to all gender or gender neutral was low with less than half (46%) of all respondents claiming that they would being comfortable with this.

We were interested to see how the views of LGBTQ people vs non-LGBTQ people differed on this topic. In terms of the inclusion of all gender or gender neutral toilets alongside male/female toilets, LGBTQ people were 13.54% more comfortable than non-LGBTQ people (89.02% vs 75.48%). Comfort levels dropped quite significantly for both groups when it came to all toilets being all gender or gender neutral (65.43% LGBTQ people vs 40.53% non-LGBTQ were comfortable with this).

Lived experience of trans and gender diverse employees

Of all trans & gender diverse respondents, 427 (73.37%) identified as non-heterosexual. When it came to disclosure at work, 38.41% were out to everyone at work in regard to their sexual orientation while only 20.54% strongly agreed that most people they worked with were aware of their gender diversity.

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In terms of the inclusivity of their workplace meeting personal expectations, the responses were mixed with 50% or more respondents agreeing that their expectations had been met or exceeded in only one of the areas of inclusion that we presented (visibility of inclusion for TGD (trans and gender diverse) employees).

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While meeting expectations is a subjective experience, it can of course impact whether or not someone feels that they can be themselves at work which has numerous implications for productivity, engagement and an individuals overall health and wellbeing.

In terms of experience of inclusivity, alarmingly over 25% of respondents did not feel that they could use gendered toilets of choice without opposition and over 15% did not feel that people made an effort to use their personal pronouns. Just over 43% stated that they had been deliberately mis gendered within the last year.

63.7% of trans and gender diverse employees felt mentally well at work. 70.6% felt engaged with the organisation while 46% reported that inclusion initiatives have had a positive impact on how they themselves feel about their gender identity.

Jokes / Bullying & Harassment

13% of respondents reported being personally targeted with unwanted jokes/commentary in regard to their gender diversity, 7% experiencing more serious bullying. The majority (albeit only 60.3%) felt safe and supported reporting continual unwelcome jokes/innuendo to their manager although alarmingly, this number dropped to 58.9% when asked if they would feel safe and supported reporting more serious bullying/harassment.

In closing

In closing, while workplaces are actively doing more to support the inclusion of trans and gender diverse people, and more people are affirming their gender at work there is still considerable work to be done. On the surface it appears that there is significant support for LGBTQ inclusion and the overwhelming majority of non-LGBTQ people are supportive of those affirming their gender at work and feel that trans and gender diverse employees would be welcome and treated no differently within their team. Even when beliefs around gender differ, the majority of people are comfortable using less common personal pronouns (their/they/them) for colleagues.

Despite this, it is still unacceptable that only 47.4% of trans and gender diverse people feel safe and included within their immediate team and only 63.9% feel mentally well at work.

In addition, there is still a significant amount of work to be done around inclusive recruitment practices, in particular for our trans and gender diverse colleagues. An area that Pride in Diversity is committed to exploring further.

For more information data insights on the AWEI annual employee survey, please visit:

Are our leaders our most active LGBTQ Allies?

Dawn Hough, Director ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs

This year the AWEI 2020 annual survey of employees working within organisations active in LGBTQ inclusion saw a response rate of 33,572 of which 20.21% (n6,787) identified as being of diverse sexuality and/or gender. This article summarises what this data tells us about our active allies (those who actively support LGBTQ inclusion within their workplaces) and explores reasons as to why others may be more passive in their approach.

Active vs Passive Allies

There is a difference between active and passive allies. A passive ally may support LGBTQ inclusion initiatives, agree that it is important work and acknowledge the positive impact that LGBTQ inclusion initiatives are having on the organisational culture – but do they make a difference to the experience of LGBTQ people in the workplace? The answer is typically ‘no’.

It’s the visibility of active allies that makes the difference

In surveying LGBTQ respondents regarding the visibility of executive allies within their organisation and other allies within their immediate work area, the results were somewhat disappointing given the focus on allies within recent years.  Only 61% of 5,869 LGBTQ respondents knew of executive allies within their organisation and only 66% of 5,866 LGBTQ respondents knew of allies within their immediate work area.

These results made us question the impact that allies were having on LGBTQ people. While initially, it looked as if only 53.1% strongly agreed or agreed that active allies positively impacted their sense of inclusion within the current workplace, that number rose to 65.84% when we filtered only those LGBTQ people for whom active allies were visible. The more visible the active ally to the individual, the greater the sense of inclusion. 

Why aren’t people active allies if they support inclusion.

68% of all non-active allies are happy to support LGBTQ inclusion passively; which indicates that the support is there. 49.5% of people who were not active allies stated that they were just too busy. 45.3% stated that they just didn’t have any interest in the area. We may not be able to do a lot about this. However, the next two commonly cited reasons for not being an ally, we can do something about. 42.8% of people who were not active allies stated that they didn’t know enough about how to be an active ally and 34.6% stated that they didn’t know enough about why they should be one. So our next questions should be:

  • Will ramping up our education or resource materials for allies help shift people from non-active allies to active?
  • Are people thinking that being an active ally requires a significant amount of time? Is this what is holding people back? 
  • Are people aware of why allies are so important?
  •  Are we providing enough information on how time-poor people can be active allies?

We filtered the data by several key questions to determine just how supportive passive allies are. We compared those who neither agreed nor disagreed that they were active allies with those who disagreed or strongly disagreed. This is what we found:

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In summary:

  • Between 67% and 83% of all non-active allies supported the work of LGBTQ inclusion
  • The majority (55%-71%) believed that work in this area had a positive impact on the organisation’s culture
  • And more than half (52.9%-67.1%) believed that training in this area should be mandatory for all people managers.


We wanted to filter the data by various demographics to see if we could pinpoint any patterns in active ally support. For non-LGBTQ respondents, women were 19% more likely to be active allies than men (66% vs 47%) with their top two reasons for not being active stated as ‘don’t know how’ and ‘too busy’. While men also stated ‘too busy’ as being their second most identified reason, their top reason was identified as not having a personal interest in this area.

Interestingly, only 77% of LGBTQ respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they were active allies. Being too busy was their top reason for not being an active ally closely followed by ‘don’t know how’. 5% of LGBTQ respondents responded with ‘not applicable’. This begs the question of whether we need to provide any specific guidance as to how LGBTQ people can be allies for others within their community and how.


One of the most interesting findings for us was the clear pattern of declining active allyship once we start to move down traditional reporting lines. The further down the reporting lines, the smaller the number of active allies and the greater the number of those who disagree or strongly disagree that they are active allies.

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We could hypothesise from this data that visible inclusivity is more important, the higher we move up traditional organisational hierarchies. We have long spoken of inclusion being a valued leadership quality and the higher someone moves within traditional hierarchies the more important this behaviour becomes. If this is correct, then what we appear to be missing is the clear message of its importance as we move further down the line. Is the importance of inclusive behaviour (regardless of the diversity dimension we are focusing on) being communicated enough as a valued leadership quality or is it about greater accountability and reward for those people managers who exhibit these behaviours within our organisations.

Clearly there is still much to be done in terms of communicating the importance of inclusive leadership. Our leaders appear to understand and engage in this, we now just need to look at how we can filter that behaviour down the reporting lines.

For more information on AWEI2020 findings, visit:

© AWEI2020, Pride in Diversity, ACON,

Permission is given to cite any of the data within this factsheet providing the reference above is utilise

Australia’s Top 20 Employers For LGBTI Inclusion Announced

Westpac Group has been named Australia’s 2016 Employer of the Year for LGBTI inclusion for the first time at a special event held in Sydney by ACON’s Pride in Diversity (PID) program, a national not-for-profit employer program for the inclusion of LGBTI people in the workplace.

Employer of the Year heads an annual list of Top 20 employers for LGBTI inclusion determined by assessment against PID’s Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI), a benchmarking instrument that evaluates LGBTI inclusivity against a comprehensive set of measures in addition to a body of supporting evidence submitted by the employer as part of the evaluation process.

Along with some truly significant achievements in 2016 by a range of organisations ranging from banking and finance, renewables, telcos and IT, the Australian Federal Police receives the honour of being the highest performing public sector organisation.

Uniting is the highest ranking not-for-profit/charity and the NSW Police, in only their first year in the index, has achieved an 11th placed-ranking as well as receiving an award for transgender inclusion.

Presenting at the Awards Ceremony held on May 20, Patron of Pride in Diversity the Hon Michael Kirby AC said: “Once again we come together to acknowledge the progress being made in Australia in inclusion and non-discrimination in work, sport and life,”

“At occasions like this, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that ignorant and unscientific prejudice against LGBTI citizens has been overcome in our country…Unfortunately, this is not so,”

“Full equality has not been achieved in 2016. In fact there have been some notable reverses in the past year which we need to look squarely in the eyes; a clear sign that the struggle for dignity in Australia is far from over.”

Other awards at the luncheon included: LGBTI Employee Network of the Year (Commonwealth Bank’s UNITY); Innovation Award (Accenture); Highest Ranking University (The University of Western Australia); Achievement Award for Most Improved (Clayton Utz), Highest Ranking Small Employer (Key Assets – The Children’s Services Provider), Small Employer Award (Domestic Violence Service Management NSW).

Individuals acknowledged for their significant contribution to LGBTI workplace inclusion include Greg Ward, CEO Macquarie Bank (CEO of the Year); Supt Tony Crandell, NSW Police Force (Executive Leadership Award); Steve Rieniets, AGL (Regional Inclusion Champion); Brad Cooper, CEO BT Financial Group (Inclusion Champion); Melissa Tandy, ANZ (Sally Webster Ally Award); Suzi Russell-Gilford, PwC (Sapphire Award) and Rhiannon Kop, Aurizon (Out Role Model).

A Platinum Tier status has been established for the first time this year, acknowledging organisations that have either retained a top 5 position at least 4 times within the last 5 years, or achieved employer of the year twice within the last 5 years. PwC and Goldman Sachs are the first organisations to qualify for the new Platinum Tier.

Director of ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs (which incorporates PID and the newly launched Pride in Sport) Dawn Hough said: “The AWEI has seen remarkable growth over the first six years of its life with this year seeing the most significant growth to date”.

There has been a 46.6% increase in AWEI participation, 125% increase in first time submissions and a 48% increase in accompanying employee survey responses (n 13,393).

Another noteworthy achievement for this year’s AWEI includes substantial growth in sector participation, including a 50% increase in private, 40% in public and 80% for Higher Education.

“While there is still a long way to go, Hough said that LGBTI inclusion has well and truly made its way onto the Australian Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Agenda.”

Over 600 people attended the sold-out event at Doltone House in Sydney on May 20, emceed by Olympic Diver Matthew Mitcham. Speakers included PID patron the Hon. Michael Kirby and Paul Zahra, PwC Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board Member and former CEO of David Jones.

“Pride in Diversity congratulates all award winners recognised today on their significant achievement and for showing great leadership in the area of diversity and inclusion.” Ms Hough added.

The Top 20 Employers for LGBTI Inclusion 2016 are:

Ranking Employer
1 Westpac Group – Employer of the Year 2016
2 Commonwealth Bank
3 EY
=4 Macquarie Bank
=4 The University of Western Australia – Highest Ranking University
6 Uniting – Highest Ranking NFP/Charity
7 National Australia Bank
8 Accenture
9 Australian Federal Police – Highest Ranking Public Sector Employer
10 Allens
11 NSW Police Force
12 Lendlease
13 AGL Energy
14 ANZ
15 Telstra
16 Norton Rose Fulbright
17 Deutsche Bank
18 IBM
19 Bankwest
=20 Baker & McKenzie
=20 Department of Defence

Pride in Diversity is a program of ACON, NSW’s leading HIV prevention, HIV support and LGBTI health organisation


– ENDS –

*LGBTI = Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex

For more information please contact:
David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications Officer
E: T: +61 (02) 9206 2044 M: +61 (0)428 477 042

ACON’s LGBTI Workplace Inclusion Program Signs Its 100th Member

Pride in Diversity, Australia’s first and only national not-for-profit employer support program for all aspects of LGBTI workplace inclusion, today announced that it had signed the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) as its 100th member.

Pride in Diversity is a social inclusion program of ACON, NSW’s leading HIV prevention, HIV support and LGBTI** organisation, and counts some of the nation’s top companies as its members

Commenting on this significant milestone, Mark Orr, ACON President, said:

“With workplace equality now an integral part of many businesses in Australia, more and more companies are recognising the enormous value and benefits of creating an inclusive workplace for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) employees.

“All the available data shows that people will perform better and make a more productive contribution to a workplace if they can be themselves and feel safe at work. That is precisely why so many of Australia’s leading companies have recognised that workplace inclusion is not only good for their employees but also good for their business bottom line.

“Just over five years ago, Pride in Diversity had eight foundation members including the Australian Federal Police, Department of Defence, Goldman Sachs, IBM,ING, KPMG, Lendlease, Telstra and we now we have a diverse and expanding membership base.

“In addition to the growing number of employers who believe in welcoming and supporting LGBTI people, the need for inclusive LGBTI service delivery is increasingly seen as an essential component to good welfare and health provision. In response to this, and as an extension of the National LGBTI Aged Care Training Initiative, ACON has established a training and consultancy team to support providers deliver inclusive and safe LGBTI services.

Pride in Diversity Director Dawn Hough welcomed the International Convention Centre Sydney and said, “We are absolutely delighted to welcome on board the International Convention Centre City Sydney as our 100th member. By joining Pride in Diversity companies have the opportunity to showcase their commitment to equality and diversity in the workplace, as demonstrated by one of our founding members Lendlease, who are also part of the Public Private Partnership with the NSW Government that is delivering ICC Sydney.

“We are very proud to be working with 100 incredible members. We look forward to establishing new relationships with those who have come on board recently and continuing with those who we have worked with over the years to change the landscape of every workplace so that a person’s LGBT identity is – no more or less – important than any other aspect of identity amongst all employees.

“And of course we look forward to welcoming our next 100 members.”

ICC Sydney CEO Geoff Donaghy said the AEG Ogden managed venue would welcome guests from across Sydney, the nation and the world and just as its patrons represented diverse nations, industries, ages, sexual orientation and career paths, its people would represent a diverse workforce.

“At ICC Sydney, we recognise and value the different knowledge, skills, backgrounds and perspectives that people bring to work irrespective of their age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or social background. Workforce diversity builds organisational capability and will help us deliver on our goals for collaboration, productivity and innovation. An ingredient in our world class guest experience will be the diversity visible within our workforce, our partners, our supplier base, and our activity,” he said.

Pride & Diversity also operates the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI), which is a free service provided annually that evaluates and benchmarks LGBTI inclusiveness in Australian workplaces. It comprises the largest and only national employee survey designed to gauge the overall impact of inclusion initiatives on organisational culture as well as identifying and non-identifying employees. The AWEI Index and its associated top 20 Inclusive Awards drive best practice in Australia and set a comparative benchmark for Australian employers across all sectors.


LGBTI** Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Community

Andrew Hamadanian, ACON Media & Communications Officer
E: | T: (02) 9206 2044  |  M: 0419 555 768