Communique No 4 - 16 June 2017

Communique No 4 - 16 June 2017

PM&C Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council
Friday, 23 June 2017

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council
  1. The Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council met in June 2017 to consider the experiences of people who identify as from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
  2. Prior to the meeting, many Secretaries took the opportunity to hold focus groups with staff from CALD backgrounds. Secretaries shared their insights and reflections from these discussions and identified the following key themes:
    • unconscious bias in the recruitment process;
    • unconscious and conscious bias in management practices;
    • individuals withholding their ‘true selves’ in the workplace;
    • the importance of mentors able to relate to CALD staff, and visible SES, support through communication and attendance at workplace events related to cultural observances; and
    • the key role of managers in facilitating inclusive teams and workplaces.
  3. To inform considerations of how to tackle these barriers, the Council invited representatives from the private and not-for-profit sectors to share their experiences in building diverse and inclusive workplaces.
  4. The Council was fortunate to be joined by Dr Alia Imtoual, Ms Mary Patetsos and Dr Emma Campbell from the Federation of Ethnic Community Councils Australia (FECCA). FECCA representatives noted that structural barriers and personal biases operate to hold people from CALD backgrounds back. For example, many highly qualified people in the not-for-profit sector, who are potential candidates for roles in the public sector believe that their experience will not be appropriately valued or recognised by the APS.
  5. FECCA representatives noted the potential value of exchange programs in providing people from CALD backgrounds with experience within the APS, while building knowledge of the transferability of skills between sectors. Exchange programs also have the potential to enhance APS staff’s knowledge of the not-for-profit sector and to provide junior staff with role models with whom they could readily identify.
  6. Ms Elizabeth Griffin from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) shared the structured, multi-pronged approach to embedding inclusion and diversity within the CBA. Ms Griffin emphasised the need to focus on strategies to promote inclusive workplace behaviours in order to unlock the potential of a diverse workforce. Ms Griffin noted the success of CBA’s MOSAIC Employee Network and the success of staff-driven initiatives such as the development of a corporate hijab.
  7. The Council agreed to a number of key actions to encourage greater inclusion of people from CALD backgrounds in the APS, including:
    • establishing an exchange program between the APS and the not‑for‑profit sector, designed to provide opportunities for people from CALD backgrounds, with an initial leaning toward CALD women;
    • encouraging recruitment agencies to consider candidates from CALD backgrounds for positions in the SES and for board appointments and provide appropriate text to the agencies;
    • appointing CALD Champions and standing up CALD Networks in agencies in which these do not already exist; and
    • undertaking broader collection of data to enable better reporting of representation.
  8. Finally, the Council endorsed the design of an APS Diversity and Gender Equality Awards program—a key element of the Balancing the Future: APS Gender Equality Strategy. The awards are intended to:
    • highlight commitment to diversity across the APS,
    • recognise improvements in APS workplace diversity outcomes, and
    • show-case best practice diversity employment initiatives.
  9. Award categories will recognise improved employment outcomes in regards to gender, disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, LBGTI and CALD focused diversity initiatives.
  10. Information on the timing, and nominations process, will be available in the next few weeks.