Legislative Council Wednesday 3 June, 2020
Ms FORREST question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT -
With regard to the promotion of gender equality in the State Service;
1. What specific programs and measures have been taken to promote gender equality throughout the State Service;
2. What training and education programs related to gender equality have been undertaken and provided to State Service employees;
a. How many employees have engaged in these programs in total and percentage of staff terms for each agency or division within an agency;
3. What training and education programs related to gender equality will be offered to State Service employees; and
4. Are employees encouraged to attend such programs; and
a. If so, how are the supported to attend?
A key measure across the Tasmanian State Service (TSS) in relation to gender equality has been against the goal set in 2016 to achieve gender equity in the senior executive with a target of at least 40% of senior executives to be women by 2020.
This target has been achieved well ahead of that timeframe, with women making up 45.45% of the Senior Executive as at March 2020.
It is recognised that we still have work to do, to ensure a truly representative, diverse and inclusive workplace, and that work will continue across the Service.
To date, a range of initiatives that promote the value and importance of a diverse workforce has been introduced across the TSS, and include:
• A commitment by Heads of Departments in 2016 to gender diversity;
• Heads of Departments and deputy secretaries across all TSS departments completed training and coaching in diversity and inclusive leadership, and have been implementing strategies in their departments to be more inclusive;
• The TSS was party to a University of New South Wales inter-jurisdictional study on the effects of unconscious bias in middle managers;
• Forums have been run, targeting women in the TSS, which feature successful female TSS employees talking about their career experiences, and providing opportunities for women across departments to meet and network;
• A publication titled Women in the Tasmanian State Service was released last year to coincide with International Women’s Day, which celebrated the stories of 16 women working in various roles of Government;
• The TSS partnered with the Local Government Association of Tasmania, TasCOSS and TASPLAN to conduct the inaugural International Women’s Day Cross-Sectoral Awards, recognising and celebrating the achievement of women across those sectors; and
• Through the recently negotiated Public Sector Unions Wages Agreement the TSS implemented improved family friendly provisions. Importantly this included superannuation benefits for employees on parental leave, an increase in paid maternity and adoption leave from 14 weeks to 16 weeks and an increase in partner leave from 1 to 3 weeks.
The Department of Premier and Cabinet’s State Service Management Office is also finalising a whole-of-service policy on flexible work.
These examples are from a whole of Service perspective. Departments are also undertaking a range of specific gender equality related activities, following on from the Heads of Departments’ commitment to gender diversity and as part of broader Diversity and Inclusion programs.
The data in response to question 2(a) on the number of TSS employees and the percentage of staff in each agency or division within an agency who have engaged in training and education programs relating to gender equality is not available and would take considerable time and resources to obtain.
However, there has been a number of training and educational programs conducted relating to gender equality at a whole of Service level as a result of the Heads of Departments’ 2016 commitment, including:
• Since its inception in 2016, the course ‘Being bold: how women can improve their power and influence in the public sector, which was developed by the Tasmanian Training Consortium (TTC) in conjunction with the Swinburne Institute, has had 171 TSS employees participate.
• A pilot of the ‘Confidence to Lead’ program for women in the Senior Executive, to build the confidence in senior women to be heard and to influence discussions had 22 participants.
• Two Women Supporting Women Forums have been held, with a total of 185 participants.
• Two Women Supporting Women Networking events, featuring Christine Nixon and Zina O’Leary, had 90 participants.
• The “Turning it Around’ International Women’s Day Luncheon had 35 TSS attendees.
• Gender Equity in the Tasmanian State Service had 136 participants.
Initiatives have also been occurring within departments, such as specific Women in Leadership Programs, delivery of unconscious bias training (both online and face to face sessions), a Champions of Change Program supporting mentors for female managers, participation in the prevention and elimination of family violence training and education programs which have incorporated a strong gender equality focus.
Departments will continue to offer a range of training and educational programs relating to gender equality and more broadly inclusive workplaces.
The TTC had been developing a future training module for selection panels on recruiting for diversity and addressing biases, the progress of which has been impacted by COVID-19. However, as training activities become feasible again it is likely the TTC will be able to continue to deliver its programs and build on previous success.
Employees across departments are encouraged and supported to attend training opportunities in relation to gender equality.
At a broad level this occurs through promoting these activities through a number of networks and internal departmental advertising.
The most common and appropriate way to encourage and support employees to attend training and professional learning opportunities is through ongoing discussions between employees and managers, relating to their performance and development.
Approaches may vary, however some departments may get new employees to undertake targeted training through induction activities or make certain training mandatory for managers/supervisors. For example, the Department of Justice led program ‘Understanding biases in decision making’ which involved a compulsory four hour, face to face training for all managers, team leaders and recruiters (approximately 200 employees).