We recently moved our readers to a new system. You may need to reset your password here to login.
Not a member ? Join here for free.
Forgot your password?
Home Features Socio-economic background questions to boost diversity
Text size :
TAGS inequality, Ben Gummer
The class-conscious Brits have decided to find out whether their civil service bosses really are as posh as many believe. For all our reputed egalitarianism, perhaps Australians should too.
We know a fair bit about who our senior public servants are. They’re mostly white, and more likely to be male (though that’s changing).
Less often considered is the socio-economic background of Australia’s government executives. While the Australian Public Service definition of “diversity” mentions socio-economic background, there doesn’t seem to be much data collected about it.
Studies suggest Australia has higher social mobility and lower inequality than the United Kingdom and United States. Inequality is, however, continuing to grow, which will likely lead to lower social mobility — so should we be asking bureaucrats where they went to school and if they were ever in state care in an effort to ensure the public service is reflective of society at large?
No doubt socio-economic background is not quite as simple to measure as gender or Indigenous identification, but it seems the United Kingdom has figured out a way to wrangle with this sometimes sensitive question.
Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.
The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
David Donaldson is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He's previously written for The Guardian and Crikey and holds a masters in international relations.
Read Related Content
The wealthier your parents are, the more likely you are to end up earning a high income — and new research says Australia's intergenerational mobility is worse than previously thought.
The inequality gap is growing in Australia and both sides of politics — Left and Right — have a responsibility to close it. The former economist and Labor front-bencher lectured public servants on the challenge.