This is advice on inclusive leadership, one of the five Papa Pounamu mandatory requirements that your agency is expected to plan and report on. Advice is available for each of the mandatory requirements.

The five mandatory requirements are designed to complement each other. In particular, the inclusive leadership requirement encompasses a commitment to the other four requirements as part of inclusive leadership development. The five mandatory requirements also work with existing diversity and inclusion commitments to make the most positive impact across all diversity dimensions.

What do we mean by inclusive leadership?

There are a range of definitions, traits and behaviours that are associated with inclusive leadership. For the purposes of this guidance when we refer to inclusive leadership, we mean leadership that values diversity and fosters inclusivity in their workplaces. Inclusive leaders ‘walk the talk’ 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 six signature traits of an inclusive leader: cognisance, curiosity, cultural intelligence, collaboration, commitment and courage.

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.

Why does inclusive leadership matter in the Public Service?

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

How do we build inclusive leadership in the Public Service?

It is expected that all senior public servants from tiers 1-3 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; and
  • consistently apply an inclusive leadership lens through their actions.

Senior leaders (tiers 1-3) will make it a personal priority to build their own diversity and inclusion capability. They acknowledge that this is an ongoing journey rather than a tick box exercise. To make positive progress in enhancing inclusive leadership across the Public Service we will need to intentionally plan, do and report.


Each agency will need to determine their approach to inclusive leadership and what learning options they will deliver or facilitate. This information should be relayed to those expected to complete the inclusive leadership learning.  All agencies should outline their planned approach in their forward annual plans.

Example:… our agency will facilitate in-house inclusive leadership workshops. 70% of all employees from tiers 1-3 will 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.


Public Service leaders recognise the value diversity brings. Leaders in tiers 1-3 undertake inclusive leadership learning and act as role models across the other four 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 our people 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.

Example:… tier 1-3 employees prioritise their inclusive leadership learning. They embed their learnings 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.


In your Annual Report you will be expected to include specific evidence or examples of action that demonstrates your progress in enhancing inclusive leadership within your agency.

Example…75% of all tier 1-3 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.

Inclusive leadership learning solutions

Many people leaders will already be undertaking inclusive leadership learning. Inclusive leadership learning can be completed in a variety of ways, the important thing is that the learning and action is ongoing. There is no one preferred option that agencies must use. Agencies, in consultation with their people leaders, are encouraged to do their own research to determine what is the best solution for their organisation. Some potential options are listed below:

  • Tailored or customised inclusive leadership learning solutions (often created in-house)
  • Off-the-shelf learning solution delivered by external providers e.g. DiversityWorks, Cerno etc
  • Leadership Development Centre have inclusive leadership learning embedded in their Common and Core learning programmes (targeted at transitioning leaders)
  • An inclusive leadership learning slide-deck that contains helpful resources can be requested here (this will require some customisation for leadership tiers 1-3)

For further information please visit https://www.publicservice.govt.nz/our-work/diversity-and-inclusion/ or contact diversityandinclusion@publicservice.govt.nz

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