Te āhua o te kokenga me te ahunga atu | How we’re doing and where we’re going

What’s going well

We have strengthened our leadership that is focused on building D&I in the Public Service. In 2020, the Deputy Commissioner of Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion role was established within Te Kawa Mataaho, Public Service Commission. Also, the Public Service Commissioner appointed the chief executive co-chairs of Papa Pounamu, Naomi Ferguson and Peter Mersi, as Functional Co-Leads for Diversity and Inclusion. These leaders work together to lead and support our Public Service agencies to achieve our D&I aspirations.


In the 2020/2021 year, all 39 agencies took action to improve their D&I maturity. The agencies that have done really well are those that thought strategically about D&I, had clear D&I goals, and a planned approach to deliver against the Papa Pounamu commitments. They also aligned their D&I work with the Public Service commitments to build Public Sector capability for Māori Crown Relationships, to build Positive and Safe workplaces and to address Public Service Pay gaps.

We also saw that those agencies that made changes to workplace systems and structures (in addition to training and development) were more likely to make good progress. Agencies have reported that there is good recognition of the importance of day-to-day behaviours and actions as being what makes the difference.

We’re seeing some good progress on increasing ethnic diversity. Māori, Pacific and Asian representation continues to grow - for more information see ethnicity in the Public Service. We also have for the first-time, information on how included our people feel at work at work. Te Taunaki told us that most people (78%) feel that the agency they work for supports and actively promotes an inclusive workplace - for more information see inclusion in the Public Service.

Agencies have taken positive steps to enhance cultural competence. Most agencies have put this front and centre of their D&I work and as a start, reported on the work that they are doing under the separate workstream on building Public Sector capability for Māori Crown Relationships using Whāinga Amorangi, developed by Te Arawhiti.

Employee-led networks (ELNs) are going strong. Previously the focus was on the ELNs for women in individual agencies. The Government Women’s Network (GWN) was established as a cross-agency network in 2015. By 2018, the network had a dedicated team to support them. In 2020, the GWN team evolved into the ELN team with an expanded remit to support all cross-agency employee-led networks including Pacific, Rainbow, Disability, Pan-Asian and more. This team is now located within Te Kawa Mataaho, Public Service Commission, and the networks they support have a membership of over 4000 public servants. The ELN team takes a system view and provides coordinated support to ELNs to increase their reach and impact. All 39 agencies contribute funding for this support, and some funding is provided directly to the cross-agency ELNs.

Where we can do more

There has been some good progress, but there remains more for us to do as we know that disparities remain within our Public Service.

Diversity in our workforce is improving, but this is happening at a slower rate than we would like. We want the whole of the Public Service, as well as each agency, to reflect all the communities across all diversity dimensions, including representation for Māori, Pacific, ethnic, gender, Disability and Rainbow. We’ve been focused on gender and now we’re concentrating efforts to increase Māori, Pacific and ethnic diversity and particularly want to improve the representation of Asian and ethnic communities.

We want to see our ethnic composition shift at all levels and specifically at leadership levels. This needs to happen across the system and it’s important that our workforces that are focused on, or contribute to, counter-terrorism efforts also reflect the New Zealand population and communities that we are here to serve. To achieve the shifts we want, we need better and more regular data collection on our existing workforce and on our recruitment and progression.

Most of our people reported that they felt included and valued at work – however we want this to be the experience for all our people. We also know that inclusion scores were, on average, lower for disabled people and our Rainbow communities. We can improve the inclusivity of our workplaces by further progressing the work that’s already been started through Papa Pounamu – for example broadening our cultural competence learning so we can grow our knowledge of Pacific, ethnic, Rainbow and Disability communities.

We can also do more to improve the uptake of training for bias and inclusive leadership and to then embed that learning through day-to-day behaviours and system changes. We want a clearer picture on what we’re doing and the impact it’s having – to achieve that, we’ll need to improve the way we evaluate, collect and report this information.

To address these areas, we’ll be directing our efforts as outlined below.

Where we’ll direct our efforts

We can see a real willingness and commitment to D&I. For the 2021/2022 year, we’ll be working with Public Service agencies to improve D&I planning, collaboration and reporting. Papa Pounamu has a strong focus on providing practical support and ensuring we take a joined-up approach as we further embed the Papa Pounamu programme for the following year.

D&I planning – we encourage and support all agencies to develop D&I plans and to share these with Te Kawa Mataaho and each other. This will help us to provide better support and connect agencies efforts across the Public Service. We want the D&I plans to focus on how they will build on the progress they’ve already made with the Papa Pounamu commitments and to be planning for the long-term. We also want these plans to outline how they will align the Papa Pounamu commitments with the separate work programmes for Public Service capability for Māori Crown Relationships, Positive and Safe workplaces, and Kia Toipoto – the Public Service Pay Gap Action Plan.

Increase collaboration – we encourage agencies that are further along on their D&I journey to partner with those that are at the earlier stages. We want all our agencies to continue to make progress in lifting their D&I capability, irrespective of where their starting point is. Many of our agencies have a range of helpful tools and resources that can be shared to support one another to make progress against the Papa Pounamu commitments. We also encourage agencies to work together to foster innovative solutions to sizing and resourcing issues that some of our smaller and mid-size agencies face.

Improving agency and system reporting - We need our reporting to tell us more clearly about what D&I efforts and initiatives are making the most impact. This will give us a better picture of what’s going well and where we need to do more. We will be working with our Public Service agencies to improve the ways in which we individually and collectively report against D&I efforts with a keen focus on impacts and outcomes.

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