Magazine article Public Sector

Does the Public Service Reflect Our Demographics?

Magazine article Public Sector

Does the Public Service Reflect Our Demographics?

Article excerpt

From the 2013 Census, we know that Asian communities are the fast- est growing ethnicity over the past decade. The Asian population has almost doubled since 2001 and increased as a percentage of the total population by over five per cent. Hindi is now our fourth most common language, reflecting that the Asian ethnicity is a broad grouping that takes in a wide range of communities.

The 2013 Census also confirms that Auckland is diversity central, with the nation's largest Pacific population and nearly two-thirds of New Zealand's Asian population living in the region.

In a world that is more interconnected than ever before, our diversity is a source of new opportunities and innovation. There is an incredibly strong business case that diversity at all levels in business gives us a wider talent pool to draw on, greater staff retention, consumer satisfaction, improved productivity, innovation, along with connec- tions to new countries, international markets and networks.

We need to ensure that our workplaces reflect our growing diversity and that includes our public services. It follows that greater diversity would assist the depart- ments to achieve Better Public Services targets.

As EEO Commissioner, my legislative mandate is with the state sector organisa- tions (through the State Sector Act 1988 and the Crown Entities Act 2004) who are required to be "good employers" with special regard to four target EEO groups: women, ethnic or minority groups, Maori, and people with disabilities.

Part of being a good employer includes a transparent, fair, gender-neutral remuner- ation system which is regularly reviewed; ensures equitable job opportunities and conditions; and recognises employee contributions.

Even though that first piece of legisla- tion that brought in the concept of EEO and the good employer requirement is over 25 years old, huge gains have not been made. EEO is about equality in the workplace for everyone and effective EEO programmes will inevitably result in greater diversity at all levels in an organisation.

A key indicator for equality at work is pay. The Human Rights Commission Census of Women's Participation 2012 reported that there were 22 government departments that had gender pay gaps bigger than the average pay gap in the labour market. Nine government depart- ments had more than a 20 per cent gender pay gap, including Treasury and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. …

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