Summary of report prepared by the Knowledge Institute Ltd for the State Services Commission in 2006. The full report is available on request from the State Services Commission - tel 04 495 6323.

Purpose

1 This document summarises key findings from the independent reviewers' report, dated February 2006, which formed one aspect of the "Review of EEO Policy to 2010" project. It also provides contextual information related to the policy and outlines next steps.

Summary of report prepared by the Knowledge Institute Ltd for the State Services Commission in 2006. The full report is available on request from the State Services Commission - tel 04 495 6323.

Purpose

1 This document summarises key findings from the independent reviewers' report, dated February 2006, which formed one aspect of the "Review of EEO Policy to 2010" project. It also provides contextual information related to the policy and outlines next steps.

Background

2 EEO Policy to 2010: Future Directions of EEO in the New Zealand Public Service (the policy) was launched in 1997 as part of the Government's ongoing commitment to the implementation of equal employment opportunities (EEO) in the workplace.

3 A review of EEO progress published in 1995 by the State Services Commission indicated that there was a need to refocus and revitalise EEO in a devolved Public Service environment. As a result of this review, the State Services Commissioner convened a steering group of chief executives to plan for the future direction of EEO.

4 EEO Policy to 2010: Future Directions of EEO in the New Zealand Public Service was the outcome of this work and it was endorsed by all Public Service chief executives and approved by Government.

5 The policy aims to ensure continuing Public Service leadership in EEO. It explicitly shifted the responsibility for EEO leadership in the Public Service from SSC to all chief executives, supported by SSC.

6 The policy defines the long-term outcome for EEO as the elimination of all forms of unfair discrimination in employment. It identifies that this will be achieved when three conditions prevail in organisations:

  • Inclusive, respectful and responsive organisational cultures which enable access to work, equitable career opportunities, and maximum participation for members of designated groups and all employees;
  • Procedural fairness as a feature of all human resource strategies, systems and practices;
  • Employment of EEO groups at all levels in the workplace.

7 Key features of the policy are:

  • Four areas of EEO focus - leadership, organisational culture and strategic human resource management, employment of EEO groups, and monitoring and evaluation; and
  • A requirement that each department will specify its expected EEO achievements, against which progress will be measured, as a deliberate part of its overall employment strategy.

8 The policy defines a number of key objectives under each of the four areas of focus - these objectives define the expectations of departments in relation to EEO practice and its integration with departments' business and organisational strategies.

9 The policy is explicit in articulating the need for flexibility to ensure implementation is appropriate for each department.

The Midpoint Review

10 As part of the overall implementation plan for the policy, a midpoint review (for 2005) was undertaken to assess how effective the policy and its implementation had been in meeting the policy's stated objectives. The review's findings serving are to serve as the basis for possible refinement of the policy and its implementation.

11 The review's scope focused on the following:

  • What progress has been made in achieving the objectives of the policy
  • How effective the policy has been in contributing to the progress made in achieving the objectives of the policy
  • How external/contextual factors have affected progress towards the policy's objectives
  • How the progress achieved compares with the practices and results achieved in similar jurisdictions over the same time frame, and
  • The lessons, barriers and issues in the progress made to date, and what is needed to achieve/maintain optimum achievement of the policy's objectives.

12 Following a tendering process, a team of consultants with evaluation expertise were contracted to undertake those aspects of the review that could not be dealt with by SSC resources.

13 The consultants employed a range of information sources and investigative techniques for the review, which included:

  • Case study interviews with a number of organisations who have implemented the policy - these interviews were focused on collecting rich in-depth data about departmental experiences trying to implement the policy intent
  • Literature review - which included: a significant review of departmental, international and unpublished literature on relevant EEO subjects
  • Departmental self assessment reports for 2005, and
  • HR Capability Survey data.

Key Findings

Progress In Achieving The Policy Objectives

15 Key findings in relation to the progress that has been made in achieving the objectives of EEO Policy to 2010 are:

  • There is unevenness across departments in relation to progress in achieving the objectives of the policy - some department have made good progress, others less so.
  • There is insufficient clarity in most departments about the organisational and wider benefits and rationale that underpin diversity in the public service. Most departments are not linking EEO with business objectives - instead it is viewed primarily as a function of the human resource management team, rather than a leadership or senior management responsibility across the department.
  • There is a need to focus on the representation of key EEO groups in senior positions and in policy areas.
  • Little internal monitoring and evaluation of EEO activities occurs other than the self-assessment process required by SSC. However this process is regarded more as a compliance exercise, than as an opportunity for organisational learning.

Effectiveness of the Policy

16 Key findings in relation to the effectiveness of the policy in contributing to the progress made are:

  • The policy's existence has helped support and reinforce existing activities and practices. However its impact on driving better results is less obvious, with lack of awareness of the policy itself being a contributing factor.
  • The policy document has the potential to provide clear guidance to departments, providing SSC's advice improves significantly.
  • Failure to establish the chief executives' standing committee has probably negatively impacted on the effectiveness of the policy.
  • EEO group target setting has not been viewed by departments as useful in helping departments drive EEO progress.
  • The effectiveness of target setting may be limited by a lack of high quality guidance for departments, and the fact that it is viewed as a compliance activity with no clear link to organisational goals and performance.

External/Contextual Factors

17 Key findings in relation to how contextual/external factors have affected progress towards the policy's objectives are:

  • Public service expansion and labour market conditions appear to have had little impact, positive or negative, in relation to the relative representation of EEO groups.
  • Contextual factors such as the perception of the EEO 'brand', pressure of competing priorities, and the role played by SSC are likely to have had a significant effect on EEO progress.
  • The Government-initiated review of targeted programmes has created uncertainty about pursuing any programmes or activities that target particular groups.

International Comparisons

18 Key findings in relation to the New Zealand Public Service's progress in comparison with similar jurisdictions are:

  • The significant differences in political, policy, social and economic contexts, apart from Australia, make meaningful comparisons of no real use.
  • There are initiatives and monitoring tools used in some jurisdictions that could add to the array of useful resources.

Optimum Achievement of Policy Objectives

19 Key findings in relation to what is needed for optimum achievement of the policy's objectives are:

  • The need to shift the focus of attention to the impact that EEO can have on departmental performance - clarifying the intervention logic of diversity is critical to making this happen.
  • A stronger advisory and leadership role for SSC to help departments develop the capability for diversity planning, integrate diversity into wider human resource capability management, and lead effective implementation going forward.
  • Lessening the emphasis on the current four target groups and broadening the understanding of the application of diversity.

Next steps

14 In terms of developing an approach going forward, a focus on integrating EEO principles across other key work such as the Employer of Choice and Excellent State Servants Development Goals will be helpful. The current separation of EEO/diversity from other work focussed on organisational cultures and practices is a challenge that needs some focus.

15 In addition, SSC proposes to review the tools and processes used, and the quality of advice provided. This suggests quite a shift in the current focus, which is currently perceived to be compliance oriented.

16 Proposed changes to the policy and its implementation will be identified by 30 June 2006, with the aim of implementing these changes by 31 December 2006. This work will be done in consultation with departments. The EEO Commissioner will also be consulted to ensure consistency between the Public Service framework and the work being led by the EEO Commissioner in the wider State Services.

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