Diversifying the workforce

In this section:

Diverse workforces and inclusive cultures, along with leadership are drivers of employee engagement. Diverse representation within the sectors ensures diverse groups in the community remain engaged with public policy, and their views are visible and considered. Diversity, particularly in officers who deliver front-line services, strengthens community perceptions of empathy and trust.

Increasing disclosure

It is important public authorities understand the diversity profile of their workforce and leverage this to improve policy development and service delivery. Self-disclosure of one’s diversity status is voluntary and there are many factors that may encourage or deter an employee from disclosing in the workplace.

Over the past 18 months, the Commission and the DEOPE have been encouraging disclosure as part of inclusive practices, with some positive results. 

When asked if their workplace culture makes people feel comfortable enough to disclose their differences, 69 per cent of the public sector employees surveyed agreed. Authorities are proactively collecting diversity information from staff, with 85 per cent reporting having strategies in place over the last year to encourage disclosure. This effort has contributed to an increase in valid responses to the Commission’s diversity surveys, meaning a more accurate picture of the diversity profile of the sectors.

While authorities have progressed well in relation to disclosures and more inclusive cultures there is more work to be done. Authorities need to focus on attracting, recruiting, retaining and developing diverse talent at all levels to see representation rates begin to increase.

Collecting gender-diverse information

The Commission’s HRMOIR data collection process for the public sector can capture the indeterminate/intersex/unspecified gender option—also referred to as gender ‘X’. This year, the EEO survey which the Commission administers on behalf of the DEOPE, was also improved to enable collection of gender diversity information.

Public authorities are encouraged to improve their data collection tools and systems to allow genders beyond male and female to be captured. Survey data reveals that 37 per cent of authorities currently provide the option for employees to identify as a gender other than male or female, with public universities leading the way.

Reducing unconscious bias

Unconscious bias is the ingrained stereotyping that informs our decision making, but of which we are unaware (AIM, 2012).

Public authorities are implementing strategies to address the effects of unconscious bias in recruitment. Almost all (95 per cent) public sector agencies report their recruitment documentation is non-discriminatory and 94 per cent say their human resource processes are equitable. The majority of agencies reported using diverse selection panels (87 per cent) but training around unconscious bias was less common. 

Placement of the sectors’ effort aligns with recent Australian research which suggests it may be more valuable to direct attention on reducing bias away from the application process to other stages of recruitment, including how positions are advertised, hiring panels are selected and interviews are conducted (BETA, 2017). 

Diversity representation across the sectors 2017

Type of authority Females Aboriginal Australians People with disability
People from 
CaLD backgrounds
24 years and under
45 years and 
Public sector 72.3%






Local governments 54.4%


















Increases and decreases in the representation rate between 2015/16 and 2016/17 are measured as percentage points (pp).


Employee insights - Satisfaction, engagement and diversity


  • 84% of employees say they are satisfied with their current job
  • 74% are satisfied with their current employer
  • 80% say they are proud to work in the public sector


  • 68% feel a strong personal attachment to their organisation
  • 62% agree their organisation motivates them to help achieve its objectives
  • 62% agree their organisation inspires them to do the best in their job
  • 73% are proud to tell others they work for their organisation
  • 66% would recommend their organisation as a great place to work

    70 is the engagement index across the public sector

Diversity and inclusion

  • 77% agree their organisation is committed to creating a diverse workforce
  • 86% agree their workplace culture welcomes people from all diversity groups
  • 76% agree their organisation values differences in people 

Our analysis

Young employees are the most engaged, with those approaching retirement not far behind.

Females and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are most proud of working in the WA public sector.

Aboriginal Australians are more likely to see their senior leaders as effective and are more satisfied with career opportunities.

People with disability are less engaged than the sample, being more likely to perceive:

  • recruitment and promotion decisions as unfair
  • their immediate supervisor does not have good people management skills
  • their immediate work group does not work well with other areas of the organisation.
 For more data from the 2017 Employee perception survey, see the State of the sectors statistical bulletin 2017

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Page last updated 19 October 2017