21 September 2022


A diverse and inclusive Public Service is essential to the work we do to serve the people and communities of Aotearoa New Zealand. To provide better services that improve the lives of all New Zealanders – and to have their trust and confidence – we must show that we value and reflect our diverse communities.

For more than five years we have been focused on building a diverse and inclusive Public Service and have made some significant gains in that time. But we know that there is still work to do. In 2021 we ran the first Public Service Census, Te Taunaki, to learn more about the diversity and inclusion of our people. About 40,000 public servants across 36 agencies responded to the survey.

The results show that the majority of people in the Public Service (about 80%) feel part of an inclusive, supportive work environment. To know that so many of our public servants feel included at work was encouraging, but we want this to be the experience for all our people. This report explores how feelings of inclusion vary for different groups and communities within the Public Service workforce. Understanding this helps us to gain a better picture about what’s working well and where we need to do more.

One of the examples to support this are the factors that are linked to higher inclusion such as having flexible work options, being more senior in an organisation and/or having higher pay. But results did show that having a mental health condition, being a disabled employee, or belonging to a rainbow community was linked to lower levels of inclusion. Responses from Māori, Pacific and smaller ethnic communities also tended to indicate lower levels of inclusion. With respect to gender, results showed that men tended to have higher inclusion than women or people with multiple/other genders. There wasn’t a strong link between feelings of inclusion and factors such as religion, migrant status, qualification level, or caring responsibilities.

When asked what would improve inclusion, people indicated the importance of having supportive leaders/managers and team members. Some of the comments also highlighted the positive impact of the Public Service becoming more inclusive over time.

Many people (72%) said they had access to Employee-led-Networks that were relevant to them. Access was higher for some groups, including Rainbow communities, those of Pacific ethnicity, and women. Minority groups tended to feel more valued for the range of cultural expertise they bring to their job. Those of European ethnicity were the lowest, while Asian and Pacific ethnicities felt the most valued.

Te Taunaki gives us just a start at understanding the effects of intersectionality on feelings of inclusion, but further work is needed to explore the combined effects of diversity dimensions.  

While we are proud of our progress to date, the census responses from public servants who don’t feel included cannot be overlooked. We are committed to doing more work and Te Taunaki will provide an important benchmark and deeper understanding of where the focus needs to be. Today, the Public Service has a comprehensive approach to achieving diversity, equity and inclusion which includes three main work programmes[1]. Further deep-dive conversations with the Cross-Agency Rainbow Network (CARN), the We Enable Us disabled persons network and the Ministry for Ethnic Communities will help us build a more in-depth understanding of the next steps we need to take.

These programmes and initiatives are key components, supported by the Public Service Census findings, that will help us achieve our goal of improving inclusion in our workplaces and for New Zealand’s public servants. 

[1] The Papa Pounamu work programme sets priorities for growing Public Service diversity and inclusion capability; the Kia Toipoto(PDF, 952 KB) and Pay Equity work programmes provide plans to address pay gaps and workplace inequities; the Positive and Safe Workplaces programme helps agencies to create work environments where people enjoy working, are respected and can contribute to their potential.