The key to normalising inclusive work practices in the public service is through initiatives that are tangible, leader-led, team-based and responsive to the local challenges of each department’s ‘social system’.
These were the findings of a project commissioned by the Australian Public Service’s Secretaries Equality and Diversity Council involving ‘diagnostic workshops’ with six Australian government departments in an attempt to identify barriers, levers and strategies for embedding inclusive work practices in the public service.
In a communique from the council’s most recent meeting, it said the project identified four principles that public service departments could undertake:
- Identify and share best practice initiatives across departments;
- Ensure senior leaders meaningfully role model inclusive work practices;
- Improve local team routines by codifying inclusive work practices at the EL2 level; and
- Address core organisational processes that can be inhibited by exclusive practices built up over time.
But the council won’t, and can’t, enforce any specific strategies on departments, instead leaving them to consider what actions are relevant for their specific context.
The council has met nine times since its creation in 2016, discussing issues such as flexible work, support for victims of domestic violence, representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, experiences of conscious and unconscious bias by employees with disability and culturally and linguistically diverse, support for cross-APS LGBTI network activities, and inclusion practices used in the private sector.
The council was responsible for initiatives such as the Australian Public Service Diversity and Gender Equality Awards to highlight the efforts undertaken by individuals and teams, and the creation of the Indigenous Talent Council to help develop the careers of high potential Indigenous staff.
READ MORE: Creating inclusive leadership