3 Leaders

3,115
senior executives in the government sector

An important initiative in the first years of the NSW Public Service Commission has been to simplify the executive structure. The Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (GSE Act) was introduced in part to create a simpler structure that could better support executive mobility. This work was further strengthened by the implementation of the Government Sector Employment Legislation Amendment Act 2016 (GSELA Act), which aligned the senior executive employment arrangements of the NSW Health Service, Transport Service and NSW Police Force with those of the Public Service.

Table 3.1: Senior executives in the public sector, census headcount, 2017–18

Service 2017 2018 Change 2017 - 18(%)
Public Service 1,939 2,051 5.8
NSW Health Service 154 160 3.9
NSW Police Force 67 66 -1.5
Teaching Service 0 0 0.0
Transport Service 1,401 560 -60.0
Other Crown services 669 278 -58.4
Total government sector 4,230 3,115 -26.4
State owned corporations 245 235 -4.1
External to government sector 48 51 6.3
Total public sector 4,523 3401 -24.8

At June 2018 there were 3,401 senior executives in the public sector, with 3,115 in the government sector. This is a decrease of 26.4% compared to the previous year. The decrease is largely due to a reclassification of Transport Senior Managers, affecting the Transport Service, and Sydney Trains and NSW Trains within other Crown services.1 The Transport executive cohort previously included both Transport senior executives and Transport senior managers (whose remuneration has historically been higher than a Clerk Grade 11/12). Since the alignment of Transport’s executive employment arrangements under the GSELA Act, Transport senior managers ceased to be considered senior executives.

If Transport senior managers were included in the senior executive total, the change from the previous year would become a 6.7% increase.

The largest increase in senior executive numbers is seen in the Public Service.

 

 

Figure 3.1 shows the increase in senior executive numbers in the Public Service relative to the size of the cohort when the executive reform began. This highlights that increases in 2018 have taken the executive numbers to their highest level since the reforms were introduced in 2014. It should be noted that while there was an increase of 112 senior executives in 2018, as a part of the reforms around 1,400 Senior Officer roles have been removed that were paid over the level of Clerk Grade 11/12 and overlapped with the senior executive cohort.

Table 3.2: Senior executives in the Public Service, census headcount, 2017–18

Cluster 2017 2018 Change
Education 265 315 50
Family & Community Services 236 203 -33
Finance, Services & Innovation 259 287 28
Health 97 98 1
Industry 241 271 30
Justice 272 268 -4
Planning & Environment 278 311 33
Premier & Cabinet 185 191 6
Transport 1 1 0
Treasury 105 106 1
Total 1,939 2,051 112

The number of senior executives increased across most services. The largest increases were in Education (50), Planning and Environment (33), Industry (30) and Finance (28). Department representatives noted that the increases relate primarily to restructuring and realignment to work priorities, and resourcing new programs and projects such as for school infrastructure, housing affordability and resources regulation. In contrast there was a decrease of 33 senior executives in the Family and Community Services cluster due to the transfer of disability services to private providers under the NDIS.

Within the Public Service in 2018, 2,040 senior executives were employed under the four-band structure of the GSE Act as Public Service senior executives (PSSEs). These accounted for 99.5% of all senior executives employed in the Public Service.

 

 

More than three in four PSSEs were in Senior Executive Band 1. This distribution is reflected in the structure of the aligned executive services in the NSW Health Service, Transport Service and NSW Police Force. Senior Executive Bands 1 and 2 comprised 95.3% of PSSEs (see Figure 3.2) and 93.0% of the aligned executive services (see Figure 3.3).

 

 

Alignment of the employment arrangements of the executive cohorts is a key enabler of executive mobility in the sector. Collectively, the alignment of the PSSE and aligned services executive cohorts has increased the size of bands 1 to 3 by almost a third (30.3%).

 

 

Premier’s Priority for diversity in the senior leader cohort

Percentage of female senior leaders

33.4%
2014
33.8%
2015
36.1%
2016
37.4%
2017
38.7%
2018
Target
50%
2025

Number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander senior leaders

57
2014
55
2015
63
2016
71
2017
87
2018
Target
114
2025

One of the Premier’s Priorities is to improve diversity among public sector senior leaders. The priority includes targets to double the number of Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander senior leaders and achieve gender equity among senior leaders by 2025.

There has been steady improvement towards achieving the targets. The proportion of female senior leaders increased by 1.3 percentage points to 38.7% in 2018. Female representation in each band has increased each year since 2014: up by 10.2 percentage points in Band 2, and 8.4 percentage points in bands 3 and 4 over the entire period. While female representation in senior leader roles becomes progressively lower in the higher bands, in 2018 the proportion of female leaders in band 2 roles increased above that in band 1 roles for the first time. Increases occurred in the Education, Finance, Health, Industry, Justice and Transport clusters.

 

 

Table 3.3: Female senior leaders by band, 2014-2018

Female senior leaders 2014 (%) 2015 (%) 2016 (%) 2017 (%) 2018 (%)
Senior officers and Band 1 33.9 34.4 36.6 37.7 38.8
Band 2 30.9 31.2 35.0 37.4 41.2
Bands 3 and 4 22.2 20.8 24.8 28.3 30.6
Total 33.4 33.8 36.1 37.4 38.7

At a cluster level, the proportion of female senior leaders has increased across most clusters since 2014. Family and Community Services was the only cluster that did not register an increase, affected by the transfer of disability services to private providers under the NDIS. The largest increases since 2014 were in Finance, Services and Innovation (10.2 percentage points), and Education (9.3 percentage points). Three clusters achieved the target of having 50% female senior leaders: Education (55.1%), Premier and Cabinet (54.6%), and Family and Community Services (54.1%). Clusters with the lowest representation were Transport (28.0%) and Justice (24.9%), where males are more dominant in the workforce composition more broadly.

Table 3.4: Female senior leaders by Cluster, 2014-20183

Cluster 2014 (%) 2015 (%) 2016 (%) 2017 (%) 2018 (%)
Education 45.8 46.8 51.6 53.0 55.1
Family & Community Services 58.1 57.2 60.3 56.8 54.1
Finance, Services & Innovation 33.5 34.3 34.4 39.7 43.7
Health 35.8 37.5 39.0 39.9 40.4
Industry 42.7 44.2 44.2 44.6 45.9
Justice 22.8 22.9 23.7 23.9 24.9
Planning & Environment 32.1 32.9 34.7 39.8 37.5
Premier & Cabinet 48.9 47.6 51.7 51.0 54.6
Transport 19.9 21.4 22.0 26.6 28.0
Treasury 38.1 36.7 39.0 45.7 42.8
Total 33.4 33.8 36.1 37.4 38.7

Despite this progress, projections based on current turnover and gender ratios in recent appointments indicate that the sector will fall short of the target if this pattern continues, with only 40.9% female senior leaders in 2025. This modelling indicates that the target would be reached in 2025 if six in every 10 senior leader appointments were female.

The number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander senior leaders increased between 2017 and 2018, from 71 to 87. The Education, Transport, and Family and Community Services clusters accounted for much of the increase. Apart from a slight decrease in 2015, the number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander senior leaders has increased each year since 2014, with the total increase at 52.6%.

Table 3.5: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander senior leaders by band, census headcount, 2014–2018

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Senior officers and Band 1 52 51 57 63 78
Bands 2, 3 and 4 5 4 6 8 9
Total 57 55 63 71 87
 

 

Figure 3.6 highlights that while most of the increase in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cohort occurred in the lower salary range (26 appointments), there has been a net increase of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander senior leaders in senior executive bands 2 to 4 since 2014. Significant progress has been made towards the target of doubling the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. If the current rate of increase continues, this target will be achieved by 2023.

It should be noted that increases in the proportion of female and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander senior leaders in 2018 occurred in conjunction with an increase in the number of senior executives overall. Sustained increases in representation without corresponding increases in the size of the overall leadership cohort may be more challenging to achieve.


Notes

1 The Transport Service comprises agencies Transport for NSW, Roads and Maritime Services, and State Transit Authority. Other Crown services includes Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and the Office of Transport Safety Investigations
2 Excludes executives under other employment arrangements (3.2%)
3 Records are mapped to show earlier years’ data in the current cluster structure; data that does not map to current is excluded (0.2% of records in 2014–16)