Interactive Discussion: What is inclusivity anyway?

Presenter: Kirsty Smith

Co-presenter(s): Shara Cameron; Michelle Curry; Clifford Lewis; Kerstin McPherson; Kerry Murnain; Rachel Stewart-Allan

Faculty / Division: Division of People and Culture

School / Unit: 

Session Type: Interactive Discussion

Session Number: 3

When: Tuesday 15th November at 12:15 pm

Zoom link: Passcode: 954568

Abstract: When you think of inclusion at the university, what comes to mind first? Inclusive is one of Charles Sturt University’s four core values, and while we have strong policies that seek to promote inclusivity, many students and staff experience barriers to their success.

This discussion session will bring together staff and students from across the university, sharing their experiences, both personal and with developing student-focussed inclusion initiatives, to explore responses to key questions:

  • What does inclusivity really mean?
  • What barriers have been a challenge at Charles Sturt?
  • What helps to make people feel included?
  • What steps we can all take to create a more inclusive University through our everyday actions?

Participants can expect to develop a broader understanding of the diversity of needs of various equity cohorts, the multi-layered experience of intersectionality, and hear real-life examples of what has helped to create an inclusive environment.

A strong body of research has established that diversity, that is a breadth of experiences, cultural backgrounds, genders and other attributes, strengthens an organisation (Moore, Xiong, Bhattachartya, Bustamenta, & Calvert, 2020). Diversity is not inclusion though.

Inclusion is about how we treat people and how we value those differences (University of Wollongong, 2022). Genuine inclusion initiatives allow a diversity of people to feel valued and respected, whereby they can contribute their talents and ideas and “have access to opportunities and resources” (Diversity Council Australia, 2022).

Inclusion is strongly tied to feelings of belonging and connection, which impacts both who we are as employees at Charles Sturt University, and how we can support our students. Recent Australian research (Pride in Diversity, 2022) demonstrates that when people can bring their whole selves to work, not only do they have higher well-being measures, they are also more productive.   

Pride in Diversity’s Australian Workplace Equality Indicator (AWEI) survey (2022) found that LGBTQ staff who aren’t out at work, compared to those who are, are much less engaged in their work and feel less productive, and that this has significant impact on health and wellbeing measures, including a sense of belonging at work, feeling able to be themselves, feeling less mentally well, and not feeling safe and included within their immediate team (Pride in Diversity, 2022).

The same study also found that the number of LGBTQ staff who are ‘out to all/most’ at work – that is, those who feel they can bring their whole self to work – has dropped nearly 4% since 2019, to 58.69% in 2022. Respondents cited this was due to personal fears (negative impact on career, poor experiences in workplace), not feeling comfortable within themselves, not feeling accepted by their teams, and the broader “social/political sphere outside of the workplace” (Pride in Diversity, 2022).

Pride in Diversity’s (2022) research offers some insights into why individuals aren’t as actively inclusive as an organisation may hope, with an increasing number of staff (42.2%) stating they are “too busy”, and they would do more if the organisation made more time available for inclusion activities. The study also showed that employees would be more active allies if they had a better understanding of why it was so important, along with how to be an active ally.

This session aims to address the why and how of inclusivity at Charles Sturt University.


Diversity Council Australia. (2022, September 5). Inclusion. Retrieved from Diversity Council Australia:

Moore, K. J., Xiong, S., Bhattachartya, M., Bustamenta, G., & Calvert, C. (2020). Beyond Diversity: Focusing on and Enhancing Inclusion in the Society for Epidemiologic Research. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1042-1046.

Pride in Diversity. (2022, August 25). AWEI 2022 Key Highlights. Sydney: ACON.

University of Wollongong. (2022, September 5). Module 1: Diversity and Inclusion on Campus. Retrieved from Equal Opportunity Online: