Workplace diversity program

What is diversity?

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It involves understanding that each individual is unique, and recognising our individual differences. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to valuing individuals and groups free from prejudice, and fostering a climate of inclusion.

Diversity includes knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups. These include but are not limited to age, ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, as well as religious status, gender expression, educational background, geographical location, income, marital status, parental status, and work experiences.

The benefits of workplace diversity

Organisations which embrace diversity and inclusion are more productive, creative and innovative, have higher morale, are able to attract and retain employees from a larger talent pool and maintain a positive business reputation with customers and suppliers.

How diverse is the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA)?

Our workplace diversity program is directed at preventing employment-related disadvantages in the agency on the basis of disability, gender, race or ethnicity, being an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander or being a member of a group identified as having an employment related disadvantage. It is also about celebrating the richness of history, culture, experience and perspectives of our employees and harnessing this diversity to provide a better service to our clients and create an interesting and dynamic workplace.

In most of the major diversity categories we meet or exceed Australian Public Service benchmarks for similar sized agencies.

  • Almost 11% of our employees come from a non-English speaking background
  • More than 16% work part time
  • Almost 3% identify as having a disability
  • 1.4% of our employees identify as indigenous
  • The gender mix is quite even and we have a broad range of ages, although by APS standards are a younger agency
  • Our employee census results reflect an inclusive and mature approach to diversity issues and an ongoing opportunity to develop more knowledge and understanding.

Our commitment to workplace diversity is reflected in the Chief Executive assuming the role of diversity champion.

Our diversity objectives

From this strong foundation our objectives will continue to:

  • Attract, develop and retain a diverse workforce
  • Promote fairness and respectful treatment
  • Support a balance between work and personal responsibilities
  • Harness the diverse experiences and perspective of our workforce
  • Build an inclusive workplace environment.

Our diversity framework

Our workplace diversity program provides an overarching context to other plans and strategies in the workplace diversity space.

Our diversity action plan

To achieve our diversity objectives, the diversity action plan will focus on key areas and actions and initiatives will be aligned to each one.

Focus

Action

Timeframe

Further awareness raising

  • Acknowledge and celebrate three days which recognise a diversity related group or event

Ongoing - Annually

  • Explain the benefits of diversity to all new employees during their induction

Ongoing

  • Review and refresh the diversity elements of the employee induction package

December 2014

  • Publish regular articles and case studies which inform on diversity issues in the Insights@AFSA newsletter

Ongoing –Quarterly

  • Promote the role and identity of Harassment and Equity Contact Officers and ensure new staff are aware of the information and support they provide

Ongoing

  • Implement the cultural competency elements of the Agency Multicultural Plan

December 2014

Fostering individual commitment

 

  • Ensure all personal development plans reflect the APS Values, Employment Principals and Code of Conduct

Ongoing

  • Model respectful behaviour in the workplace

Ongoing

  • Encourage participation in diversity events and sharing of personal stories and experience

Ongoing

Improving recruitment outcomes for indigenous employees

  • Update our indigenous employment strategy

June 2014

  • Implement the “people” measures within the AFSA Reconciliation Action Plan

Ongoing – Quarterly

  • Participate in APSC Indigenous Human Resources Forum

Ongoing

Improving recruitment outcomes for employees with a disability

  • Update our Disability Employment Strategy

December 2014

  • Participate as a member of the Australian Network on Disability

Ongoing – Bi monthly

Ongoing development of manager capability

  • Ensure the Managers’ Toolkit on the the intranet is updated with the latest information on diversity issues

Annually

  • Provide cultural awareness training tailored to individual needs and circumstances

Ongoing

  • Refer to diversity issues where relevant in meetings and learning and development activities

Ongoing

Encouraging uptake of available development opportunities

  • Broadly advertise development opportunities throughout the organisation

Ongoing

  • Ensure part time staff and staff on extended leave are kept informed and considered for development opportunities which arise

Ongoing

Continued support to the balance of work and personal responsibilities through the Enterprise Agreement and our policies

  • Negotiate and implement a new Enterprise Agreement which supports a diverse, satisfying and safe workplace

July 2014

  • Review and development of our policies and guidelines to give effect to the terms of the Enterprise Agreement

December 2014

  • Give favourable consideration to reasonable requests for flexible work arrangements

Ongoing

  • Plan within teams to fairly and effectively manage, workloads, attendance, annual leave and flex time

Ongoing

Maintain accessibility

 

  • Ensure new sites and site upgrades provide an environment which is accessible to all members of staff and the wider community

Ongoing

  • Update diversity page on the intranet to ensure current information is readily available to all staff

Annually

Performance measures

The success of implementing a diverse and inclusive workplace culture cannot be measured by numbers alone as it is also a matter of culture, competence and commitment.

We will comprehensively review our workplace diversity program every four years.

Annually an evaluation of the effectiveness of the program against objectives will be undertaken and will consider a range of performance indicators including:

  • The outcomes of the Employee Census
  • Information received through employee exit surveys
  • Information gathered by the Harassment and Equity contact officer network
  • Monitoring of the percentage of staff who have undertaken diversity training;
  • The number of diversity events held at our sites; and
  • The reflection of APS Values and Employment Principles in the personal development plans of employees.

Bi-monthly reports will be provided to the Operations Management Committee on identified workplace diversity issues.

Legislative and policy framework

Our Enterprise Agreement supports a diverse and flexible work environment which recognises the value of workplace diversity and fosters a balance between personal and work related responsibilities. Provisions include flexible working arrangements, home based work, leave provisions which support carers’ responsibilities and cultural events, purchased leave arrangements, a commitment to the prevention of harassment and discrimination and to a safe and healthy work environment. The enterprise agreement provisions are supported by our policies.

The Public Service Act 1999 (the Act) sets out the Values, Employment Principles and Code of Conduct that apply to all APS employees. The Act highlights the responsibility of agency heads to provide workplaces that are “free from discrimination, patronage and favouritism; and recognise the diversity of the Australian community and foster diversity in the workplace”.SES employees have a particular responsibility under section 35 of the Act to promote the Values, Employment Principles and compliance with the Code of Conduct within their own agencies by personal example and other appropriate means.

The Australian Human Rights Commission highlights the requirement for all employers to create a workplace free from discrimination and harassment in compliance with a range of state and federal laws.

Legislation that applies to our organisation includes:

  • Age Discrimination Act 2004
  • Disability Act 1992
  • Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Act 1999
  • Fair Work Act 2009
  • Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Act 1986
  • Maternity Leave Act (Commonwealth Employees) 1973
  • Public Service Act 1999
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1984
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984
  • Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011

Stakeholders and contributors

Everyone has a stake in workplace diversity and a contribution to make:

Our clients

  • In accordance with the Client Service Charter, our clients can expect professionalism, responsiveness and easy access to services. Service delivery is enhanced by having a workforce which reflects the diversity of the public we serve.

Senior management

  • Provide workplaces that are welcoming and inclusive and leverage the capabilities and experiences of staff
  • Model behaviours that foster and promote diversity in the workplace

Supervisors and managers

  • Create an environment which supports the sharing of new ideas
  • Recognise, value and support the individual skills, experiences and perspectives of their teams
  • Support staff to reach their full potential

Individuals

  • Uphold the APS Values, Employment Principles and Code of Conduct
  • Treat colleagues and clients with courtesy and respect and be conscious how actions and words may impact others
  • Share skills and knowledge
  • Challenge stereotypes and personal bias and think objectively
  • Participate in any survey or census
  • Speak out if behaviour is witnessed that doesn’t support our diversity objectives
  • Ask for assistance if a disability or injury is acquired and support may be needed