Awards for leaders of diversity and gender equality within the Australian Public Service

Awards for leaders of diversity and gender equality within the Australian Public Service

PM&C Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council
Wednesday, 08 November 2017

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Banner with multiple colours featuring two images of colourful circles and part circles and the following words: APS Diversity and Gender Equality 2017

Departments and agencies across the Australian Public Service (APS) are building more diverse workforces, to better reflect Australia’s diverse population, and more inclusive teams to harness different skills and perspectives in delivering outcomes to the Australian people.

This was the message this morning (8 November) from Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Head of the APS, Dr Martin Parkinson, who gave the opening address to the 2017 Diversity and Gender Equality Awards ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery.

The awards—created and hosted by the Australian Public Service Commission–are  designed to recognise staff across the APS who are living and enabling change to the development of a more inclusive culture. Award categories were:

  • Individual award
  • Department/Agency award
  • Network award
  • Gender equality award.

Details of award recipients and nominees are available on the APSC website.

Dr Parkinson began his address by acknowledging the efforts of staff and teams implementing changes across the APS. 

He outlined the business case for diversity and inclusion in the APS, citing evidence demonstrating that businesses with more diverse workforces and more inclusive work practices achieve better results.

‘The edge that more diverse and inclusive businesses have over their competitors is one we should cultivate in the public sector too,’ Dr Parkinson said.

Speaking to the award winners, APS staff and managers, he reminded them that more change is needed.

‘In the 2016 Census, people born overseas, or who had at least one parent born overseas, made up almost half (49%) of our entire population,’ Dr Parkinson said.

‘Think of the SES staff you know. Are half of them from a culturally diverse background? An even simpler metric: women are just over half the population. Are they half the SES you know?’

He told the audience the APS must learn how to better value and include each other’s unique experiences and talents.

‘And it’s important to say that we’re not just talking about gender or cultural diversity, sexuality or disability, but about different styles of thinking, working and leading as well,’ Dr Parkinson said.

He spoke about the importance of engaging directly with staff to get a better understanding of organisational culture and outlined four key issues the APS needs to address:

  • unconscious bias in the workplace
  • the positive impact of visible leadership on diversity and inclusion
  • the need for mentors and sponsors at senior levels
  • and a need to build manager capability.

Finally, he reminded the audience that the required change cannot come from managers and human resources teams alone.

‘I’m a firm believer in leadership at every level,’ Dr Parkinson said.

‘We can all lead from wherever we are. Every single person, at every level, has accountability to include others and challenge bad behaviour when they see it.’

He called on the APS to build a more inclusive workplace that truly values diverse experience and perspectives, one that reflects the diverse and pluralistic society it serves.

The full speech is available at APS Gender Equality and Diversity Awards.