Science in Australia Gender Equity

The George Institute earns SAGE Cygnet Award for flexible parental and carer policies

The George Institute for Global Health has earned its first prestigious SAGE Cygnet Award, recognising work by the organisation’s Australian office to create a flexible workplace for parents and carers.

Cygnet Awards are conferred by Science and Gender Equity Australia (SAGE) on  organisations that implement policies and practices to remove barriers to equitable workplace participation, and build upon the foundations for transformational change recognised by the Athena SWAN Bronze accreditation The George achieved in 2019.

Dr Anna Palagyi, Chair of Chair of the Institute’s Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team, said, “I would like to thank and congratulate everyone on the team who contributed to this fantastic achievement. We’re proud that our efforts to develop and implement more flexible policies have been recognised, as we strive to meet the real-life needs of valued employees who have parenting or caring roles.”

The self-assessment team reviewed The George’s existing policies, conducted focus groups with staff, and analysed feedback from its annual Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging employee survey to understand limitations of existing leave policies. The results informed new commitments for parents and carers on staff, including increased Paid Parental Leave of up to 18 weeks (with superannuation) and an updated Global Working Hours Policy. 

As part of the Award pathway, these commitments will be evaluated and reviewed over time to ensure they continue to foster a best practice workplace for parents and carers. Initial impact data highlighted staff positivity around the changes to policy, return to work support and resources, and flexible working arrangements to balance caring responsibilities.

“Optimising our work practices and support structures for team members who have caring responsibilities – whether for children, grand-children, older relatives, friends or family – is essential for the overall wellbeing, productivity, satisfaction and engagement of our staff,” said Dr Palagyi. “These structural changes have created a better framework to support workplace flexibility and work-life balance.”

A Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative, Athena SWAN is an accreditation program recognised as the only internationally recognised framework for workplace gender equity, diversity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) sectors.