Treasury outlines new diversity strategy, encouraging staff to 'be themselves'

By Shannon Jenkins

July 31, 2019

Source: Getty Images

The Treasury has released a new inclusion and diversity strategy in what looks to be one of Phil Gaetjens’ final actions before he steps into his new role in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in September.

Gaetjens wants staff to “be themselves”.

“The advice on policies and services we provide affects the lives of people across the country and beyond. To do this effectively and fairly, we must represent the modern Australian community across its many dimensions,” he writes in the strategy document.

“Evidence shows that diversity — of background, of life experience — brings different insights, creates challenge and encourages change and innovation. This, in turn, produces more accountable and trusted public services and better decisions — better because they are more attuned to the needs and interests of all within our communities. 

“I want all Treasury staff to feel they can be themselves at work, valued for the distinct perspective they bring, and able to go as far as their talents will take them — irrespective of their gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, faith, age or socio-economic background.”

A recent report released by the Lowy Institute found that women have headed Australia’s internationally-focused public service departments and agencies only four times in history. The Treasury has been led by men since its establishment.

According to data detailed in the report, in 2018, the Treasury’s senior executive service was comprised of 35% female and 65% male. While this is a vast improvement from the 11% (five females) recorded in 1996, it is still 10% below the APS average.

READ MORE: Lowy Institute: Lack of women in Australia’s international relations sector harms national interest

Source: Treasury Inclusion and Diversity Strategy

The Treasury is “more diverse than at any time in its history”, according to Gaetjens.

“At the most senior levels, we are moving closer to gender equality, but we know there is still more to do if we are to become truly representative of the people in our community and a leader and role model for others in diversity and inclusion,” he said.

According to the strategy, the Treasury workforce currently sits at 49% female, 1.2% Indigenous, 3% disability, 17% non-English speaking background, and 4% LGTBQI+.

The strategy’s priorities include:

  • Creating equitable and inclusive access for everyone in all aspects of the workplace.
  • Encouraging and harnessing diversity of thought, actions and motivations in our workforce.
  • Building a culture of inclusion where all Treasury staff feel accepted in the workplace.

Its principles are:

  • Diversity can strengthen our organisation, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Inclusive work practices and cultures support the workforce to realise the benefits of its diversity.
  • Building an inclusive and diverse workforce requires determination and effort. 
  • A cultural capability is needed at all levels of the organisation, and everyone is accountable for ensuring they adopt and foster inclusive workplace behaviours.

The process of implementing the strategy will be reported to Treasury’s Inclusive Workplace Committee (IWC).

The IWC’s role is to support diversity through its focus on women, those from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, Indigenous Australians, people with disability, and members of the LGBTQI+ community.

Senior Executive Service inclusion and diversity champions have been appointed to support and promote diversity pillars, the strategy said.

The current champion for gender equality is Deputy Secretary of the Fiscal Groups (and man) Simon Atkinson. Diane Brown, Division Head of the Financial Services Division is the LGBTQI+ champion; Deputy Secretary of the Macroeconomic Group, Meghan Quinn, is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander champion; Cultural and Linguistic champion is Maryanne Mrakovcic, Deputy Secretary of the Revenue Group; and finally, the Disability champion is Vicki Wilkinson, Division Head of the Social Policy Division.

Each pillar has key objectives .

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