Making diversity in local government a priority

News story
Commissioner Dr John Byrne spoke about making diversity mainstream to Local Government Professionals at their Annual State Conference at Crown Casino on 3 November.
Dr Byrne speaking in front of EOC banner

Dr Byrne spoke about the tyranny of the competitive assessment of merit in recruitment processes and how it was holding organisations back from reaching their full potential to serve an increasingly diverse public.

"Despite statistics showing us how diverse our population is, most of the societal influence still lies with the one demographic – that is white, Anglo Celtic, heterosexual men with no obvious disabilities," Dr Byrne said.

He said this demographic had traditionally made decisions on behalf of a population which many of them may know very little about. 

Dr Byrne said if we wanted to dismantle these structures to make institutions better reflect mainstream society, then organisations had to put diversity targets in place when it came to recruitment.

"Recruitment panels need to better reflect the society we live in," he said.

“Panels need to put forward several candidates who meet the selection criteria for the CEO to select one who meets organisation objectives, including diversity targets.

Dr Byrne said a competitive assessment of merit was not appropriate since it did not counter conscious and unconscious bias, resulting in an organisation that did not reflect the diversity of the community it served and leading to diminished credibility, relevance and productivity.

He encouraged the audience to gaze inwards at their organisations to reflect on strategies for making their own executive and management teams more diverse.

"Organisations need to put in place meaningful policies and procedures to enact change, not just for the effectiveness of the organisation, but the future of our society," he said.


Page reviewed 10 November 2021