Multicultural Queensland Charter Speaker Series #1 – Robert Setter

Multicultural Queensland Charter Speaker Series #1 – Robert Setter


(audience applause) – Thank you. Tim, that
was far too (coughs) professional and impactful
for me to follow that. So, congratulations
and thank you (laughs). I don’t think so (coughs). It’s a great privilege
to be here today to talk at the invitation of
Multicultural Affairs Queensland, because it gives me an opportunity to share some of my thoughts as the Commissioner for
Public Service in Queensland, about the importance of
inclusive and diverse workplaces. And I guess to, in some ways, shout out about some of the things we are doing in that particular space. I’d like to start by, of
course, paying my respects to the Turrbal, the Yaggera
and the Jagera people who are the custodians of the land that we do come together on today. Of course, they give strength, inspiration, and courage
to all Queenslanders, as we work, live, and grow together to ensure an evermore inclusive, innovative, and cohesive Queensland. I also acknowledge the
Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe: the Minister for Local
Government, Minister for Racing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Now, there are, of course… There are many great
drivers and reasons why leaders strive for inclusive
and diverse workplaces. And there’s also much research available on the business case for
diversity and inclusion. Now, research by McKinsey in 2017, and published by Diversity
Counsel Australia, called Delivering Through Diversity reaffirms the global relevance
of a link between diversity and organisational performance. And it’s important to
note that in the U.S., research is showing that there’s an uplift of between 10 and 30%, in terms of return of investment
in the private sector, where diversity is being embraced and inclusion’s being practised. As early as 2013, Deloitte
research foreshadowed inclusion as meaning adaptation. Not tokenism, not assimilation
and simply tolerance of those who are difference to the norm. But in an inclusive workplace,
they said it’s not just about seeing diversity and
demographics across the office. Business gained value
from diversity of thought, they claimed. Now, diversity and
inclusion continues to be an economic, political,
and social imperative, certainly within the
Queensland public sector, and more broadly across Australia. The public sector is the
largest employer in Queensland, and we certainly are not
short on strategy and targets in terms of building
workforces and workplaces that better reflect the
Queensland community. We also, of course, it’s been
pointed out already today, have legislative obligations. By virtue of the very public service act that I’m responsible for implementing, public service employment
is to be directed towards promoting a diverse and
highly-skilled workforce, drawing from government
and non-government sectors. The Multicultural Recognition Act of 2016, and the Multicultural Queensland Charter provide us with an
opportunity to recognise the valuable contribution
of diverse groups in our community, and
to promote Queensland as a unified, harmonious,
and inclusive community. Importantly, beyond the legislation, our workplace cultures
and values reflect the way that we do business and deliver services. Inclusive and diverse workplaces will better ensure our aspirations, translate to outcomes and opportunities at the individual, the family, the community, regional,
and indeed the state levels. I’d like to share a short
video we’ve produced about how some of our public
servants view diversity, and about some of their
points of difference and their aspirations as I lead into the rest of the session. (bright music) – Good, step out of it! (music swells) – Proud Queenslanders, everyone. In 2016, the Queensland government Chief Executive Leadership Board, that’s the collective noun
we have for directors-general and commissioners in the
Queensland Public Service, agreed to diversity targets for the Queensland
Public Sector workforce, with each department chief executive now actually accountable through
their performance agreement for annual improvement. Now this became an issue… (coughs) Well, it was brought to
my attention, actually, when I returned to the Public Service after the 2012-2014 period, of the… previous to the last term government, where there was a major downsizing of the Queensland Public Service by
about 14,000 public servants. Now, that in itself as a
policy objective is fine, but the way they went about it, and the crude nature of the reduction actually severely impacted the diversity of the Public Service. And the data is there for all to see, that the dip-off in numbers,
where the actual impact came, were on all of those who were
different in the workplace whether they were Indigenous, whether they had identified
as having a disability. This may have been a coincidence, but the data is so compelling, it actually sent a signal to me about the need for us to recommit to a truly inclusive
and diverse workforce. So we now have women in
senior leadership positions, a target of at least 50% by 2022. Of having Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islanders represented in the
public service workforce, of at least 3% by then. Non-English speaking backgrounds
of at least 10% by then. And people with a disability at least 8%. If we were to achieve those,
we would have a workforce that at least, in 2017 terms, was reflective of the community
that Queenslanders serve. Now we’ve made already, by simply setting targets and having a united and confirmed approach
to driving greater diversity in the Public Service,
significant achievement in… The early indications are very positive. Women in senior officer
roles and equivalent are actually at 55%, up some 7.4% since December 2015. So our talent pipeline from a
gender perspective is strong. However, women at the senior
and chief executive levels reflect not as badly as those
figures that Tim shared, is about 35%, up marginally
since December 2015. So we have some way to go to
have true diversity of gender within our senior executive
and chief executive ranks. In the Torres Strait Islander… When I was in the public service last time in the late 2000s, the
numbers were quite strong at around 6 or 7% of the
public sector identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The figure is now, in December, was 2.09%. So there’s been a major impact in terms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders seeking to be employed
in the Public Service, and indeed, the great
travesty of the inner capacity of the system to retain, sustain, develop, and nurture them. When it came to people with a disability, we identified at 2017 at 2.79%. This too was down from some… I think it was 6 or 7%
from memory, in the 2000s. So again, a significant impact. And people say to me that’s because people no longer identify. And I think that’s a travesty
in terms of the culture that’s been created in service, where people feel unsafe or
unsure to actually identify that they have a disability, or that they do have, indeed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, or indeed, that they actually
speak and think differently. So, while we’re trending in the right way, we have a long way to go. And even when you think of
the simple ageist element, 55% of employees… I’m sorry, 21% of employees
are actually over 55 years, and yet only 5% are under 25. So in terms of the
public sector workforce, not only being reflective of
the diverse society we’ve got, we are clearly skewed to the
upper end of the age profile, and with that brings
great challenge, I think, to system change. So how do we, indeed, continue to drive a more inclusive and diverse workforce in the Queensland public sector,
and equip all Queenslanders to access work opportunities
with government? Now, we’ve implemented an overarching inclusion and diversity strategy, these are all on the PSC website, to build our workforce and workplaces to better reflect that community. So awareness, and sharpening the focus of our managers and leaders
is but one strategy. We support individual
agencies, importantly, to take their own approaches
to diversity and inclusion. I’m very much of a view that we need to allow individual agencies, reflective of the nature of
the services they provide and the workforce they wish to grow, to optimise opportunities unique
to their particular profile and their service delivery. But together overall, the board is committed to collaborate and work together to achieve by 2022 that workforce that is
reflective of our community. We’re doing a number of
things in partnership for the first time in
the last couple years. Not the least of which with Multicultural Development Australia, about connecting
government graduate mentors with MDA refugee client mentees. This develops graduates’ coaching skills, while demonstrating the benefits of engaging and collaborating
with the community. The programme encourages
Queensland government’s future leaders to respect the
variety of community voices and champion diversity of
thought in decision-making. Promoting the work and welcome programme run by MDA and the Queensland government places refugees to Australia in paid employment for 12 weeks. Now these are what some
would say are baby steps, and I would accept that that’s true. But again, I would argue that that’s steps in the right direction. We raise awareness of diversity through the Queensland public sector Inclusion Champions of Change, we have members through our
Head of Premiere and Cabinet, around the Queensland Male
Champions of Change nationally… This is really about developing
a compelling narrative to attract and retain
the best talent we’ve got in the Queensland Public Service though our employee value proposition, Be Here for Queensland. And if you haven’t checked it out on YouTube and others, please do. And of course through
White Ribbon we’re creating White Ribbon accredited workplaces right across the
Queensland Public Service, which is really for me about respectful and equitable relationships, at home and in the workplace. In addition, we continue to develop our leadership capability, including our Leader Connect
initiatives, and many others. But I want to close, I guess, with reference to a new initiative that is using the notion of
using data to drive behaviour. We have developed an inclusion index for the Queensland Public Service, and we’re rolling it out by agency. Now, this is really drawing on
our employee opinion surveys, which has become a key test
of the culture and climate of the Queensland Public Sector over the last couple of years. Now this is really… We’re trying to consolidate our view about how the diverse
groups in our workforce actually feel about fairness,
innovation, diversity, respect and what to identify the barriers to them being the best they can be. All with an eye to
understanding and influencing leadership and management
processes and practises, and above all focusing on
meaningful behavioural change. Now, the index looks to give insight to three current states
of elements of diversity. One is the diversity of background and understanding of the
demographic characteristics: age, gender, disability, cultural
background, sexual orientation, and whether they are real barriers to success in the workplace. I’m pleased to say that, from our initial index assessment in 2017, majority of workers don’t
actually feel cultural background is as great a barrier to success as some other of these indicators. Diversity of thoughts and
ideas is the second dimension that we’re focusing on. The extent to which members
of our public service are open to new ideas
and innovative thinking, as well how people feel free
to contribute different ideas. And this is highly
patchy across the service about the extent to which
individuals feel empowered, and indeed have the trust and confidence to express their ideas
and able to contribute to the innovation that’s there. So, some way to go in that space. And the third dimension is really about inclusion and respect. This represents the psychosocial safety, and the way relationships
support diversity and inclusion. It’s about how people feel
about being treated fairly, and consistently in their workplace. How people treat each other with respect, how my manager treats… And I have to say,
again in this dimension, the notion of a workplace
that is not truly valuing… that is discriminating in its approach, and the feeling of a lack of
fairness in the workplace, remains a true challenge
and barrier, I think, to the Public Service exercising the behaviours
it needs to behave in an inclusive way where people feel safe and confident enough to come to work and be the best that they can be. I think we all have an obligation, and certainly in the
Queensland Public Service. I look to the Queensland senior
executive, chief executives, and the senior officer network, to lead and work
differently into the future. And that’s really about
welcoming and embracing diversity to be truly diversive and
adaptive of difference. Now even though I suspect I’m
preaching to the converted, I think you too, every one of
you, can make that difference. And if you’ve heard today, from the Public Service perspective, we’re not short on strategies,
or plans, or processes to improve ambitions. However, this effort’s
only of value if indeed, each and every public servant
in the Service really… regardless of where they
work, the role they’re in, the classification they’re
in, their age, or their gender actively respects and values differences every day, and in every way. The secret behind the
performance of diverse teams is not necessarily in the inputs, that is adding diverse team members, but in the throughput. The extent to which team
members understand one another and seamlessly build upon
each other’s contributions. A team that is diverse on paper
could still easily default to the opinions of the few
aged white men in the room. We must resist that at all costs. And we aged white men in the room must be both conscious of that and quite deliberative about
resisting that temptation. Now, assimilation has
to be actively resisted. This is my final comment. A genuinely diverse culture requires intentional cultivation. And in my view, that needs
to be at the heart of what organisations do to realise
truly inclusive workplaces. That’s certainly the ambition of the Queensland Public Service. Thanks.