Boosting participation in the AIMS staff survey through Diversity Moments

In 2021, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) delivered their second Staff Diversity Culture survey as part of their ongoing commitment to the SAGE Athena Swan program.

While their initial staff survey in 2018 succeeded in engaging 57% of staff in the feedback process, the participation rate rose to 75% in the 2021 survey.

The gender profile of survey respondents was largely balanced. Increases in survey participation came from both the Townsville and Perth sites. For the first time, the survey also included participation by research students at the Institute.

Photo of a person using a touchscreen tablet device to answer an online survey.

How did they do it?

The increase in staff participation may be attributed to increased staff engagement and discussion of diversity at AIMS, following the introduction of a “Diversity Moment” in the fortnightly all-staff meetings.

Presented by a wide range of staff members, Diversity Moments provide information, insight and personal experiences surrounding gender equity and diversity issues, both in the workplace and in society in general.

These moments are short reminders to staff and students of ongoing diversity issues, highlighting the importance of AIMS’ SAGE action plan efforts, and shedding light on situations faced by fellow staff and students when it comes to equity in the workplace.

To further increase staff survey responses, the AIMS Equity, Diversity and Gender Working Group (EDGE) engaged with staff about the survey through:

  • regular email reminders;
  • increased focus on the survey in Diversity Moments; and
  • poster and pamphlet advertisements throughout the institute, with QR-code–enabled links for direct access to the staff survey online portal, compatible with mobile devices.

What’s next?

Analysis of the survey data is ongoing and will be combined with future staff surveys to assess the rollout of current and future actions on equity and diversity. 

More about Diversity Moments

Diversity Moments are 3- to 5-minute discussion points where AIMS staff members share information and their lived experiences on a wide range of diversity issues. These presentations help increase discussion and consideration of equity and diversity. Examples include:

  • Working flexibly and its effects on women’s participation in the workforce
    AIMS’ General Counsel, who has two young children, spoke about the benefits of flexible work, job sharing and part time work, and how they allowed her to continue working during the early years of parenthood and beyond. This Diversity Moment highlighted how an organisation’s approach to different work patterns can encourage or hinder women’s employment during motherhood.
  • How to be a male ally
    AIMS’ Data Science Project Manager spoke about the different types of allyship men present when supporting women and gender diverse staff in the workplace. Some types were performative rather than altruistic, so this Diversity Moment sought to encourage allyship that supports equity because it is the right thing to do.