Science

Event Inclusivity Guidelines

UNSW Science is committed to increasing diverse representation at conferences, seminars, panels, colloquia, symposia, and other events (events). This is part of UNSW Science’s 2025 strategy of leading diversity and inclusion best practice, to ensure no disadvantage on the basis of diverse characteristics.

These guidelines describe best practice methods of increasing diverse representation in the planning and running stages of an event. We encourage all involved in planning and running events to take a visible and audible stand to actively embrace diversity and inclusion at events run by members of the UNSW Science community and/or hosted at UNSW Science. For advice on running inclusive events, contact UNSW’s Hospitality Team. If you have questions or comments on these guidelines, please contact the Science Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team.

Note: For the purposes of these guidelines, “Speakers” refers to all guest speakers, keynotes, presenters, and facilitators.

 

Preparing for your event

Inclusion goals

Have you set goals for equity, diversity and inclusion for your event?

Setting goals and reporting on outcomes is a useful way to monitor your efforts. Such goals provide a clear agenda for the inclusivity of your event.

  • A range of goals can be set. Goals should contribute to the values and behaviours of UNSW, the Science EDI vision and/or UNSW Science Faculty targets.
  • Areas where diversity goals can be set are:
    • Gender representation
    • LGBTQIA+ inclusion
    • Cultural diversity of speakers
    • Disability inclusion
    • Flexible working inclusion
    • Indigenous Australian inclusion
  • Note: Disclosing diversity information may be sensitive for people. It is important to request information in a respectful way. For example: ‘UNSW is committed to a fair an inclusive workplace free from discrimination and embrace diversity. For this reason, it is useful for us to know whether people identify with any of the diversity groups below:’
  • Ensure that your goals are specific and measurable and that you monitor your progress against them as you plan your event.
  • Examples of inclusion goals:
    • Live streaming of event with ability for viewers to ask questions.
    • Among speakers, aim for a minimum of 40% women and 40% men (with the remaining 20% discretionary).
      • Note: A target of 40% women might be readily achievable in the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, but a considerable challenge for the School of Material Sciences and Engineering. It is important to be realistic with the goals that are set.
    • Among audience, aim for a minimum of 40% women and 40% men (with the remaining 20% discretionary).
      • Suggestion: One way to track and achieve this goal is to ask attendees to indicate their gender during registration. The organising team should monitor responses, and pursue advertising strategies (e.g., targeting gender-focused networks) to rectify imbalances.
    • Incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and learnings into the event content.
    • Majority of attendees report being satisfied with the inclusivity of the event as assessed in the event evaluation.
    • All aspects of the venue are accessible to those with a disability.
  • It is understood that some event speakers are chosen opportunistically because (for example) they are visiting researchers or in the area for other purposes. The purpose of these guidelines is not to discourage such ad hoc events from occurring, but to ensure that inclusion goals are kept in mind when speakers are invited specifically for a UNSW Science event.
  • In the case of a series of talks such as the Psychology colloquium or seminar speakers, a goal could be set to ensure that speakers across a given time frame meet a set of inclusion goals.

Organisers

Is your planning team diverse?

  • A diverse planning team will be better able to anticipate the needs of participants and speakers with diverse backgrounds.
  • Seek advice when needed and remember that consultation and self-determination of diversity groups is important. Be conscious of the labour that is spent when people provide advice and guidance: you may wish to compensate or reimburse people for their time.
  • For advice on identifying people with diverse backgrounds, contact the relevant diversity champions at UNSW. Each Champion has a Working Group which drives cultural change around equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • For advice and guidance on identifying potential Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to contribute to event organisation, contact Nura Gili, UNSW’s Indigenous Programs Unit.

Speakers

Do your speakers reflect the diverse nature of UNSW Science?

  • When inviting speakers, consider the following diversity and inclusion categories: gender, disability, cultural and linguistic background, Indigenous heritage, LGBTIQA+, and flexible work. Consider also intersectionality across these categories.
  • Carefully consider speaker selection criteria so that they do not undermine diversity efforts. Placing emphasis on experience and accomplishments rather than seniority can rectify imbalance.
  • Avoid inviting speakers who are regularly called upon to appear at events; it may be the case that looking further afield may yield diverse speakers.
  • If you have difficulty identifying diverse speakers to invite, seek input from colleagues and/or reach out to relevant professional organisations targeting diversity areas.
  • Begin inviting speakers early. This will allow agile shifts to accommodate overall event speaker diversity goals and allow speakers sufficient notice to make travel and/or alternate arrangements for caring responsibilities.
  • Brief your speakers on how they can do their part to be inclusive. For example, if the event is being live captioned, short breaks may be required between slide changes. Consult with your attendees on their needs and communicate these to your speakers.
  • The diversity of chairpeople should also be considered.  Including current students or trainees as chairs can increase diversity and promote skill development.

Funding

Is there funding available to support your inclusivity goals?

  • When possible, offer subsidies to speakers who may incur extraordinary costs in participating (e.g., due to childcare).
  • Offer Equity Scholarships for attendees who may not have access to travel funds and/or to help facilitate audience-oriented EDI goals.
  • Consider whether it is appropriate to offer an incentive for speakers’ participation. If speakers are performing the same role, then be equitable with incentives.

Scheduling

Is your event scheduled at a time and date that maximises ease of attendance?

  • Consider keeping in line with UNSW’s Regular Team Meetings Hours Policy (i.e., holding your event between the hours of 9.30am and 4pm).
  • Try to avoid scheduling an event on religious and culturally significant holidays.
  • Understand that holding your event during School Holidays may present challenges for parents of school-aged children.

Venue

Is the venue accessible?

  • Hold your event in a venue where the stage is accessible.
  • All of your attendees should have access to a toilet. Remember this should include an all-gender toilet.
    • Access a UNSW campus map marked with accessible toilets here.
  • Consider utilising audio amplification, even in relatively small spaces, to ensure that all audience members can hear speakers. If feasible and the need exists amongst your audience, employ an Auslan interpreter or pursue live captioning options.
  • To support inclusion of those who work flexibly, enable remote access and participation in events (e.g., live streaming).
  • Free web video conferencing can be utilised using Microsoft Teams up to 250 users.
  • Consider providing a creche or reimbursing care costs for those with caring responsibilities. Example of organisations that can provide creche services include Kidzklub and Abrachild.
  • If requested by your speakers or audience, when feasible,
    • provide a quiet room that is accessible and near the main meeting/conference room.
    • employ an Auslan interpreter or pursue live captioning options.
  • If your event is being live streamed or captioned, ensure you test your technology thoroughly prior to the event and have help desk phone numbers on hand.

Catering

Are you providing catering options that are inclusive?

  • Consider offering culturally diverse meal options.
  • Prepare, or ask your caterer to prepare, labels for all food and beverages to assist people with dietary requirements.
  • Provide a variety of meal options, including food that is easy to eat without utensils. Ensure catering staff are briefed and able to help where appropriate.

Welcome to Country

Have you considered arranging a Welcome to Country?

  • Consult with your local elders group or Lands Council or cooperative about a Welcome to Country to determine if one is appropriate.
  • Refer toNura Gili’s Protocols for Welcome to Country for assistance.
  • If you have not arranged a Welcome to Country, consider asking the emcee to give an Acknowledgement of Country.

Planning inclusive content

Will the content of your event embrace the diversity of UNSW Science and beyond?

  • Explore ways to creatively integrate diverse stories and issues into your event such as case studies, panel questions, and research. These may touch on diversity areas such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, LGBTIQA+, and more.
  • Consult with theScience Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team for advice.

 

Advertising your event

Marketing and communications

Are the visual and textual aspects of your marketing and communications inclusive?

  • Be mindful of visual representation of diversity when advertising your event.
  • Add links to the following on your event website, in event communications, and/or in messages to your speakers.
  • Ensure invitations and communications are accessible. Recommended font is Arial and size 14 point or larger.
  • Provide details of parking, public transport, and drop-off points with accessibility in mind.
    • Access a UNSW campus map marked with accessible parking here.
  • Use inclusive, person first language to refer to individuals with disability. Ie. "people with disabilities" rather than "disabled people" or "the disabled".
  • Where possible, use gender neutral terms such as they, them, their, partner, significant others; avoid the use of binary gender language.
  • Consider including the UNSW Science equity, diversity and inclusion vision statement on your invitation.

“The UNSW Faculty of Science aims to provide an equitable place of work and study that will stimulate innovation, productivity, and progress and will enable staff and students to realise their potential regardless of background. We hold that diversity is required to foster an environment that produces robust, credible and pioneering science of global impact and trains the next generation of scientists.

 

UNSW Science believes that deliberately fair, equitable, and inclusive practice can serve to realise this vision. UNSW Science commits to reducing barriers that impede equity, diversity, and inclusion via implementation of initiatives and practices that will benefit staff and students alike.”

RSVPS

Are your RSVPs set up to request information that supports the inclusivity goals of your event?

 

  • When inviting people to your event, ensure that you ask if they have any specific requirements and/or let attendees know who they should contact to request any accessibility and accommodation requirements.
    • Example questions to include on the RSVP:
      • Do you require an accessibility related measure in order to attend this event? This might include accessible parking, sign language interpretation, captioning, or any other accessibility-related measure.
      • Do you have specific dietary requirements?

Running your event

Room and venue setup

Have ensured signage and room setup promotes accessibility?

  • Ensure wayfinding materials, including signage, are easy to read and in locations visible to those approaching the venue from accessible routes (e.g., not just the stairway).
  • Remove trip hazards and ensure stage and audience spaces are wheelchair accessible.

Opening the event

Have you planned your event opening to highlight Inclusion and include an Welcome or Acknowledgement of Country?

Promoting inclusion

Have you clearly conveyed the inclusivity values of your event to speakers and the audience?

  • Encourage the emcee and all speakers to:
    • Use the microphone to ensure that all audience members can hear the presenters
    • Describe visual information verbally.
    • Use inclusive language regarding gender, sexual orientation, cultural heritage.
  • Display the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag when and where appropriate to do so. Consult with Nura Gili for advice.
  • After the event, with the permission of the speaker(s), disseminate a summary (and recording, where possible) for those who could not attend.

Evaluating your event

Collecting feedback

Did your audience feel that your event was inclusive?

 

  • Collect feedback from attendees about the inclusivity of the event. Did the participants feel included? Where there any barriers to inclusion?
  • Such feedback can be collected informally, in a targeted manner, and/or via a survey sent to speakers and audience members.

Assessing your goals

What learnings can you take away from planning and running this event with inclusivity in mind?

 

  • What changes would you make to improve inclusion in your next event? Consider making your findings publicly available, where appropriate.
  • Refer back to the EDI goals set at the start of the event planning process. Did you meet your goals?
  • Identify what worked well and what could be improved. Share your findings with the Science EDI team science.edi@unsw.edu.au.

 

Further Resources

Department of External Relations

Australian Network on Disability

Diversity Council Australia

Nura Gili Protocol

York University Canada Inclusion Lens: Event Management Tool

500 Women Scientists  

Union of Concerned Scientists Guide on Event Accessibility