High-performing organisations are characterised by their commitment to diversity and culture of inclusion, which typically comes down to treating employees fairly and providing them with equal access to opportunities.10 Evidence shows that diverse and inclusive organisations are much more likely to meet business goals. Employees who feel included are also more likely to think that they work in a high-performing organisation. The results show that when there is high diversity and low inclusion, or low diversity and high inclusion, the business outcomes are never as impressive.11

The NSW public sector is at a crossroads when it comes to diversity under the GSE Act. Agencies are required to incorporate diversity into their workforce plans at a time when there is a growing recognition of the value of diversity to service quality and business outcomes. As noted in the Foreword, the definition of diversity is now broader but is still undefined.

In the remainder of this section we review how NSW is performing in terms of workforce diversity, based on our latest research findings. The main focus in 2014 has been on strategies relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees, people with a disability and the participation of women at senior levels.

According to the Agency survey, 63% of agencies have an approach to diversity that extends beyond the traditional equal employment dimensions, although only 8% report implementation at a highly developed level. Diversity is incorporated into workforce plans (a new requirement of the GSE Act) in 59% of agencies, with 7% reporting that their plans are highly developed. The main way agencies support diversity is through training and regular reporting. Just under 50% of agencies promote diversity as a way of achieving greater innovation and improving service quality, with 4% reporting this as a highly developed practice. Another 40% recognise the need to promote diversity, with implementation either planned or commenced.

Perceptions recorded in the People Matter survey are generally positive about equity and diversity in the public sector (See Figure 6).

Figure 6: Employee perceptions of equity and diversity

Figure 6 is a horizontal bar graph showing sector responses to six statements on equity and diversity comparing five  questions to results from 2012. In both 2012 and 2014 85% agreed with 'equal opportunity is provided in my organisation' 88% with 'my organisation is committed to creating a diverse workforce (eg in terms of gender, disability, age, cultural background) and 91% with 'cultural background is not a barrier to success in my organisation'. 82% agreed with 'age is not a barrier to success in my organisation' down from 86% in 2012; 85% agreed with 'disability is not a barrier to success in my organisation' down from 86% in 2012 and 94% agreed with 'sexual orientation is not a barrier to success in my organisation.'

Employees who are Aboriginal, have a disability, speak a language other than English at home or provide care for others outside of work reported having less equal employment opportunities than colleagues who did not identify with any of these groups. These findings are consistent with the 2012 People Matter survey findings.

A comparison of the Agency and People Matter surveys found few links between well-developed practices in agencies and related scores in the People Matter survey. While it would be unwise to assume this means practices are ineffective, the results highlight the need for closer evaluation of the success of agency policies and practices.

10. Corporate Leadership Council (2013), Creating Competitive Advantage through workforce diversity

11. Deloitte et al (2012), Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup? A new recipe to improve business performance

The Public Service Commission acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which our office stands.