Our extraordinary people are critical to CSIRO’s success and bring our excellent science to life. We inspire each other, trust each other and collaborate closely to help solve complex problems that will make a real difference to our future.

2018–19 highlights

Staff pride
92 per cent of staff are proud to be associated with CSIRO.

Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Institutional Bronze Award
We’re committed to advancing workplace gender equity.

Thrive Wellbeing program
Helping our people prioritise their health, safety and wellbeing.

Annual CSIRO Awards
Celebrating the hard work and achievements of our people.

Second Reconciliation Action Plan
Investing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural knowledge.

Staff numbers

As at 30 June 2019, we had 5,915 staff, a full time equivalent of 5,359. Of these, 3,685, or 62 per cent, were classified within the research function.

Overall, the number of staff increased by 2.6 per cent (148) this year. The proportion of female staff increased by 0.6 per cent to 42.1 per cent and the proportion of female research science staff has increased slightly to 28.1 per cent. Research science staff increased by one per cent (37). Voluntary staff turnover increased slightly from the previous year but remained relatively low at six per cent.

Table 2.1: Staff numbers (headcount)
Functional Area 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17 % Female 2016–17 2017–18 % Female 2017–18 2018–19 % Female 2018–19
Research Scientists/
1,520 1,466 1,473 27 1,533 27 1,570 28
Research Project staff 1,669 1,752 1,803 41 1,809 42 1,829 42
Research Management 254 248 246 19 251 22 233 21
Research Consulting 40 54 58 22 55 26 53 25
Senior Specialists 21 20 21 43 19 42 17 47
Technical Services 537 586 621 16 672 17 719 17
Communication and Information Services 201 203 237 78 260 78 281 80
General Services 16 23 20 55 19 53 16 50
Administrative Support 908 909 942 75 999 75 1,046 75
General Management 103 106 144 40 150 45 151 50
Total headcount 5,269 5,367 5,565 40 5,767 41 5,915 42
Full-time equivalent (FTE) 4,836 4,864 4,990 38 5,190 39 5,359 40

In 2016–17, the creation of Data61 led to the classification of new roles in General Management and changes in some functions led to an increase in staff reported in that functional area.

Our People Strategy

We strive to attract the best people and develop and engage them in an inclusive and diverse environment. We are committed to fostering individual growth and providing equal opportunities for our staff.

There are four focus areas of our People Strategy: talent; empower; mobility and agility; and diversity and inclusion. This strategy is enhanced through our Cultural Alignment Program – linking our organisational culture and strategy. It focuses on creating a culture of mutual trust, transparency and accountability, collaboration, and inclusion and participation.


Our staff are critical to the delivery of innovative science and technology for our customers. To ensure we attract the best people, we developed a new approach to assessing and filling our future workforce. A student and early-career staff focus helped us deepen partner relationships with universities and increase engagement in education and training, from school-age to post-doctorate level. This focus is helping to build Australia’s future science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and innovation-capable workforce. We have started a project to design a new model for talent acquisition, with a focus on the candidate experience.

This year we increased learning opportunities and experiences for our staff by delivering 6,549 days of facilitated development, an increase from 5,824 days in 2017–18. This consolidates significant year-on-year growth, up 34 per cent since 2014–15, as we striveto develop Australia’s national science talent.

We focused on supporting and building the wellbeing of our national science talent. Aligning with the release of our Thrive Wellbeing program, we facilitated online learning for more than 1,000 leaders and teams to build emotional wellbeing and resilience. We supported an increasing number of staff to access career development planning and advice to address changing and future work expectations through our Career Development Centre and Intensive Development Centre (for future leaders), with more than 158 participants benefiting from programs in 2018–19.

We expanded the number of programs we offered to build digital literacy and data science capability. Our digital learning offering continues to grow, currently including best-practice skill development in data analysis, visualisation and management, CSIRO’s Data School complemented by DataCamp’s Online Course Library and Software Carpentries’ instructor training. Further expansion is planned for the Digital Academy, including the announcement of our partnership with the Research Data Alliance Plenary, to be held in Australia in 2020.

We continued to enhance learning delivery methods and reach through a digital modernisation program. This included embedding new technology such as a new learning management system, online program nomination and evaluation mechanisms, and virtual collaboration platforms. This technology enabled online social learning in our programs. The ongoing investment in digital modernisation is critical to enabling us to meet future capability needs and continue to build our nation’s science leadership and talent at scale.

We supported future science talent through the design and implementation of a bespoke CSIRO development framework for our CSIRO Early Research Career Postdoctoral Fellows. This ensures relevant and focused learning opportunities are available and accessible as part of their CSIRO experience. It supports them to develop the capabilities required to operate as an independent researcher within CSIRO or beyond.


Our leaders and staff are integral to delivering our strategy – and we empower them to do so. Having staff more fully engaged and taking part in organisational decisions and change is central to their empowerment.

Annual round-table discussions, Leader Change webinars, crowdsourcing ideas and CSIRO Connect all-employee events helped to provide more visibility, transparency and two-way feedback between CSIRO senior leadership and its team.

Through extensive engagement, we also defined the CSIRO Experience to differentiate CSIRO as an employer of choice, improve our employee experience to retain and develop critical science capability, and attract new people to world-class science, engineering and digital research for Australia’s future. It brings together what our research told us makes CSIRO an incredible place to work, from meaningful and impactful work, great people and teams, pay and working conditions, learning and career development, and an inclusive culture and genuine work and life flexibility.

We focused on the delivery of new learning and development initiatives in three key priority areas to enable a more digital and diverse environment. We created a Digital Academy to support our future workplace. This program offers data-focused learning across a range of programming languages, data analysis, curation and cyber security topics, through a selection of learning delivery modes. The second priority area targeted more collaborative and inclusive team practices. Our objective was to enable our people to work together more effectively to solve complex problems and build critical skills, which will support our role as a catalyst in the innovation system. The programs included an Inclusive Leader Program for mid-level leaders and a First-Responder training program to support victims of Family and Domestic Abuse. Finally, in our continued focus on leadership, we successfully piloted the Productive Collaborations program, the Leadership Shadow program for senior leaders, and the Executive 360 Feedback and Coaching Program for the Executive and CSIRO Leadership teams, to develop self-awareness, personal insight and build their leadership capability and effectiveness.

Investment in leadership development across all levels increased again this year by nearly 20 per cent, with more than 1,500 days of leadership development accessed by CSIRO leaders. Highlights included participation in our Ready to Lead program growing by more than 400 per cent. This program achieved ‘highly commended’ in the Best Implementation of Blended Learning Solution (Large Enterprise) category at the Australian Institute of Training and Development’s 2018 Excellence Awards.

Across all leadership programs we reached 48 per cent female participation, which significantly exceeded our 30 per cent minimum requirement. In addition, more than 400 leaders accessed 360-degree feedback, communication and collaboration style inventories, psychometric tools and coaching.

CSIRO Early Research Career Postdoctoral Fellows

Our CSIRO Early Research Career (CERC) Postdoctoral Fellowship program develops the next generation of leaders in the innovation system. These Fellowships enhance the person’s research capability so that they are better able to pursue a career in science at CSIRO or beyond.

We employed 417 CERC Postdoctoral Fellows over the course of the past year.

Table 2.2 provides a point in time comparison with previous years of the number of CERC Postdoctoral Fellows.

Table 2.2: CERC Postdoctoral Fellows as at 31 May 2019

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
CERC Postdoctoral Fellows 303 229 248 310 331

Mobility and agility

CSIRO continued its secondment and mobility program, Switch, where we quickly appoint staff to areas where they are most needed. Now in its second year, there were 20 Switch secondments, increasing the exchange of people and know‑how between research, industry and government.

Diversity and inclusion 

To deliver on our purpose, we need a diverse and inclusive team. One of our key priorities is to increase the diversity of our employees and to embed diversity and inclusion into the entire organisation. This year, we launched the 2019–22 Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. We’re committed to creating an environment where each individual is included and supported and can realise their full potential. We’re achieving this through a workplace culture that accepts, values and enables difference.

For the first time, we marched in the annual SydneyGay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade to demonstrate and celebrate that we are diverse, inclusive and a great place to work, for everyone. We introduced the inaugural CSIRO Diversity and Inclusion Award and completed the gender pay equity model, using insights from this initiative to address gaps in pay and inform future salary decisions.

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