Papa Pounamu’s requirement for inclusive leadership encompasses Public Service organisations’ commitment to the other 4 requirements as part of inclusive leadership development.

Te tikanga o te Hautūtanga Ngākau Tuwhera What inclusive leadership means

There is a range of definitions, traits and behaviours that are associated with inclusive leadership. In the Papa Pounamu work programme, inclusive leadership means leadership that values diversity and fosters inclusivity in the workplace. Inclusive leaders role model good behaviour through their everyday actions even when it can be challenging. They encourage others to do the same. This type of inclusive leadership aligns well with the Deloitte 6 signature traits of an inclusive leader: cognisance, curiosity, cultural intelligence, collaboration, commitment and courage.

Six signature traits of inclusive leadership — Deloitte Insights

Inclusive leadership is a mindset, and we know that through continual learning and commitment to inclusive actions that we can encourage Public Service leaders to be and act more inclusively.

Te hira o te Hautūtanga Ngākau Tuwhera Why inclusive leadership matters

Inclusive leadership helps to create and support diverse and inclusive workplaces that better reflect the communities we serve. Inclusive leadership is one way we can make the changes we need to build a leading, unified and trusted Public Service that serves Aotearoa New Zealand and its people.

Inclusive leaders help to distribute the responsibility of leading change across the system, rather than imposing it from above. We want to build on and use our collective strength to best deliver the services that New Zealanders rely on. Inclusive leadership in workplaces delivers better outcomes by bringing forward a wider range of solutions.

Te whakatipu i te Hautūtanga Ngākau Tuwhera i roto i te Ratonga Tūmatanui How to build inclusive leadership in the Public Service

It is expected that all senior public servants from tiers 1 to 3 will undertake inclusive leadership learning. Inclusive leadership learning should help leaders to:

  • recognise and mitigate against bias in their day-to-day practices
  • recognise, respect and value cultural differences and worldviews of others
  • build positive working relationships with the people they work alongside and the people they engage with
  • support and value the voices of all employees
  • consistently apply an inclusive leadership lens to their actions.

Senior leaders (tiers 1 to 3) should make it a personal priority to build their own diversity and inclusion capability and acknowledge this is an ongoing journey.

To make positive progress in enhancing inclusive leadership across the Public Service organisations must intentionally plan, do and report.

  • Planning

    Each organisation needs to determine its approach to inclusive leadership and what learning options it will deliver or facilitate. This information should be relayed to those expected to complete the inclusive leadership learning.  All organisations should outline their planned approach in their forward annual plans.


    “Our organisation will facilitate in-house inclusive leadership workshops. We expect 70% of all employees from tiers 1 to 3 to have completed those inclusive leadership workshops by June 2021. We expect our executive leadership team to be leading the way with over 80% having completed the offered inclusive leadership workshops or equivalent learning by June 2021.”

  • Doing

    Public Service leaders recognise the value diversity brings. Leaders in tiers 1 to 3 undertake inclusive leadership learning and act as role models across the other 4 Papa Pounamu requirements. They champion diversity and inclusion and equity programmes and create a workplace culture that encourages others to build their diversity and inclusion capability. Inclusive leaders work hard to foster an inclusive environment that make all public servants feel valued and respected. They understand the differences between representation and participation and promote working together so we can fully realise the benefits of a diverse, inclusive and unified public service.


    “Tier 1 to 3 employees prioritise their inclusive leadership learning. They embed their what they have learned in their day-to-day actions. They make sure the people they work with and for are supported and valued. They also take action to address existing barriers to diversity and inclusion and are accountable for progress. They genuinely put diversity and inclusion at the heart of what they do.”

  • Reporting

    In your annual report you will be expected to include specific evidence or examples of action that demonstrate your progress in enhancing inclusive leadership within your organisation.

    Annual Reports and other End-of-Year Performance Reporting — Guidance for reporting under the Public Finance Act 1989 — The Treasury (PDF 1.2 MB)


    “Over 75% of all tier 1 to 3 employees (including 85% of our executive leadership team) have completed inclusive leadership workshops or a form of equivalent learning. All people managers have access to our inclusive leadership workshop and we are beginning to see good uptake of this learning from people leaders across all levels.”

  • Case study

    Inclusive Leadership: New Zealand Defence Force 

    The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is made up of three services - the Royal New Zealand Air Force, New Zealand Army and Royal New Zealand Navy, and a civilian workforce. NZDF has a Directorate of Diversity and Inclusion that designs and oversees work programmes relating to progressing an inclusive culture for the NZDF. Alongside this work, the NZDF is committed to increasing the participation of women in our workforce (both in uniform and in leadership roles), being an LGBTTIQA+ inclusive workplace, as well as also increasing its cultural diversity by growing and supporting Māori and Pacific leaders. 

    The Institute for Leader Development (ILD) oversees leader development across the NZDF and maintains the leadership framework which recognises seven levels of leadership. Each level has an associated leadership programme with the aim of growing effective and inclusive leaders within the NZDF.

    Over the past year the ILD has updated its leadership framework to include a bicultural focus and strengthened diversity and inclusion learning outcomes. The NZDF bicultural leadership framework is based on six elements related to strengthening how leaders and teams’ function and create positive work environments. The updated framework has recently been endorsed by senior leaders and will be launched in 2023. 

    To support on-going learning, NZDF curates a virtual library of D&I resources that will support the discussion on inclusive leadership and its implications for diversity and inclusion; the Directorate of Diversity and Inclusion also has a virtual library of diversity and inclusion resources

Ngā rauemi Hautūtanga Ngākau Tuwhera Tools and resources for inclusive leadership

  • Inclusive leadership learning solutions

    Many people leaders will already be undertaking inclusive leadership learning, and it can be completed in a variety of ways — the important thing is that the learning and action are ongoing. There is no one preferred option that organisations must use. Organisations, in consultation with their people leaders, are encouraged to do their own research to determine what is the best solution for their organisation. Options could include:

    • tailored or customised inclusive leadership learning solutions (often created in-house)
    • ready-made learning solutions delivered by external providers, for example:
    • the Leadership Development Centre’s Common and Core learning programmes, which have inclusive leadership learning embedded in them (targeted at transitioning leaders):
    • contact us to request an inclusive leadership learning slide deck (this will require some customisation for leadership tiers 1 to 3):

Public Service leaders

The Public Service needs a diverse group of strong and capable senior leaders, unified around a spirit of service who can work across the system to better serve New Zealanders.

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