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Australian Bureau of Statistics

Programs, policy and strategy

Gender Diversity Action Plan 2014-2017

The ABS introduced its Gender Diversity Action Plan 2014-2017 in November 2014, following a review by an external consultant which contained recommendations for improving gender balance particularly among senior leadership – all of which were adopted in the action plan. The action plan focused on recruiting and deploying for diverse leadership (using unbiased, best practice recruitment processes), working flexibly, staying connected with staff on long term leave (including alerting them to career and development opportunities while they're on leave) and building a more inclusive corporate culture. A Gender Diversity Working Group, with senior leadership representation, was established to oversee the successful implementation of the action plan.

Flexible Working Arrangements Strategy

The ABS introduced the Flexible Working Arrangements Strategy in November 2014. One of its aims was to better support work-life balance for employees by providing greater options and flexibility around working conditions, such as hours of work and teleworking. A series of information sessions were delivered to all staff, and targeted information, guidance and training was provided. Around one in five employees reported teleworking for periods of the time when it was last measured (APS Census May 2015), and we expect a higher proportion at the 2016 Census.  The ABS aims to increase the proportion to 65% by 2020.

Initiatives and networks

Under its Gender Diversity Action Plan, the ABS is committed to increasing awareness on unconscious bias among ABS senior leaders and recruitment selection panels. Last year, unconscious bias training was delivered to senior leaders (the Senior Executive Service) and recruitment selection panels, and a condensed one hour session was presented to all other ABS staff. The seminar covered the concepts that underpin unconscious bias, its effects in the workplace, and strategies for managing unconscious bias in the ABS.

The ABS undertook significant recruitment activity in 2015. Prior to the assessment of applications, in an effort to reduce the effects of unconscious bias in the selection process, identifiers (including name, gender, birthdate) were redacted from applications, CVs and referee reports. A recent review of the recruitment exercise at the APS and Executive Level classifications suggests that ABS has made improvements in attracting and placing women at higher rates than in the past, with 350 of the 613 successful applicants being women.

The strategies ABS adopted were very successful in terms of improving gender balance in our senior leadership. At the end of June 2015, 21% our SES were women. This has risen to 43% following a recruitment exercise for SES conducted in late 2015.