Communique No 6 - 8 December 2017

Communique No 6 - 8 December 2017

PM&C Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council
Thursday, 14 December 2017

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council

The Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council met in December 2017 to discuss the inclusion of people who identify as from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community within the Australian Public Service.

The meeting was informed by analysis of the 2017 APS Employee Census results. The collection of the 2017 APS Employee Census was the first opportunity that staff had been given to formally share their identification as part of the LGBTI community. Four per cent of staff identified as LGBTI+ with a further 3 per cent of staff preferring not to identify as part of any community.

The Council welcomed Ms Georgie Harman, CEO, Beyond Blue and Boss-Deloitte Top 50 LGBTI Leader, to share her perspective of the benefits of inclusion initiatives to support staff who identify as LGBTI to be ‘Out’ in the workplace.

Ms Harman noted that the meeting occurred on a significant day for the LGBTI community—as Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) had provided Royal Assent to the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017.

Ms Harman shared a range of statistics, outlining the significant productivity, staff turn-over, employee commitment and employee wellbeing outcomes that could be achieved by supporting staff who identify as LGBTI to be Out in the workplace. These statistics can be found on the Pride in Diversity website. Ms Harman noted the mental burden that concealing this characteristic placed on staff who had to repeatedly decide whether to be open, to obfuscate or to conceal their identity.

The Council noted that the corporate sector were expending significant effort in LGBTI inclusion initiatives and agreed that visible role models, events to mark days of significance for the community and respectful relationships between managers and colleagues were essential to including staff who identify as LGBTI.

The Council then welcomed representatives from the Australian Federal Police. The AFP has been at the forefront of undertaking leading practice LGBTI inclusion initiatives within the public sector since 1996.

The AFP has consistently been ranked top public service employer and in the top 10 employer overall in Pride in Diversity’s Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) benchmarking exercise since 2013.

Assistant Commissioner Ray Johnson noted that these inclusion initiatives had been critical to developing trust relationships (which are essential to fighting crime) with the LGBTI community.

AC Johnson noted that for the LGBTI community the number of staff who formally identify with corporate systems as part of the community is a good measure of their inclusion, because feeling confident to be Out in the workplace is a good sign that staff are treated with respect and are included within the workplace. AC Johnson stated that recent Pride in Diversity research suggested that only 46 per cent of Australian LGBTI employees are Out at work.

Staff from the AFP also shared their perspective of the importance of LGBTI inclusion initiatives stating that awareness of these initiatives was a key attractor and motivator to work in the organisation.

The Council noted the benefits of participating in the AWEI. AFP staff advised that the benchmarking tool provided practical examples of how to build more inclusive systems and processes. The Council also noted the importance of building alignment of intent from senior leadership through to line area managers to drive cultural change.

The Council agreed that common themes were emerging from their discussions with individual diversity groups, and that further discussion was required about how to address these common themes and create lasting cultural change across the APS.