As highlighted in a recent article in The Mandarin, research from the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) 2016 shows that nationally, the public sector is ‘lagging’ behind other sectors regarding LGBTI inclusion. The article also advanced that leadership is an important factor in supporting LGBTI inclusion.
As the Executive Sponsor of LGBTI inclusion at the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Victoria (DPC) it is my role to foster inclusive leadership that facilitates action, a visible commitment and cultural change. Inclusive leadership is critical in embracing diversity and delivering inclusive workplaces.
The Victorian government values and celebrates diversity. It has affirmed the right to equality, fairness and decency for LGBTI Victorians and is committed to removing discrimination from Victorian laws, services and society.
A public sector workforce that reflects the communities it serves can provide better insight into policy and program development and deliver improved service delivery outcomes for the community.
DPC’s LGBTI Inclusion Plan was launched in September 2016 and aspires to promote workplace inclusion. Empowering our employees to be themselves is critical in supporting DPC’s role as a leader in whole of government public policy and service delivery.
Examples of recent initiatives that have been, or are in the process of being implemented to strengthen the culture of the Victorian Public Service to be more inclusive include the:
- Launch and promotion of an LGBTI Inclusive Language Guide;
- Development of activities around Transgender Day of Remembrance, Midsumma Carnival and IDAHOBIT Day; and
- Victorian Public Sector participation in the annual Pride March.
In 2015, the Victorian Public Sector Pride Network was established by staff from across Victorian Public Service departments and agencies to connect LGBTI staff and allies across the sector. The peer led network’s vision is to support and confidently promote all parts of the Victorian Public Sector as an employer of choice, decision maker and service provider for all LGBTI Victorians.
Over the past year, the network has run numerous events, visibility and inclusion initiatives, including stalls at the ChillOut Carnival in Daylesford and Melbourne’s Midsumma Carnival, a free LGBTI awareness training session open to all public sector staff, and various social and networking events. The Network has also worked with HR colleagues to improve LGBTI workplace inclusion.
All Victorian government departments are members of Pride in Diversity, Australia’s first and only national not-for-profit employer support program for LGBTI workplace inclusion.
In 2016, for the first time, the Victorian Public Sector had a contingent in the annual Midsumma Pride March. Marching next to staff were the Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality, secretaries, deputy secretaries and the Ombudsman.
In the 2016 AWEI, DPC achieved bronze tier status in recognition of its significant activity in the workplace equality space. This puts the department on a par with private sector employers such as American Express, Alcoa, Deloitte, KPMG and Medibank.
The network was nominated as a finalist for the 2016 GLOBE community awards in two categories: Connecting the LGBTI community, and Protecting our community.
Ultimately, including LGBTI communities means taking action. Attitudes and ideas that might be adverse to LGBTI inclusion can be the result of conscious and unconscious behaviours. It is our responsibility to challenge these ideas and work towards promoting inclusion for all employees. Simple actions can result in meaningful change.