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					An Evaluation of The University of Western
 Australia’s Workforce Diversity Strategy




                       Equity and Diversity Office
                                       April 2004
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                             Executive Summary
The Workforce Diversity Strategy was developed in the context of the University’s
demonstrated commitment to maximising the opportunity for all Western Australians
to participate equitably in employment. Launched in 2001, the Strategy has involved
the establishment of a Diversity Job Bank comprising a network of relevant
employment service providers representing three identified priority areas, namely,
Indigenous Australians, people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
and people with disabilities. A variety of employment opportunities have been offered
through the WDS across a range of organisational units at UWA. Ninety staff have
been offered employment under the auspices of the WDS and, in recognition of the
outcomes achieved, the Strategy won the prestigious national accolade of the Prime
Minister’s Employer of the Year Award for the Employment of People with
Disabilities in both 2002 and 2003.

It was intended that the WDS would be evaluated three years after its inception and,
accordingly, a qualitative review was undertaken in late 2003 involving both
employers and staff recruited through the initiative. Both employers and staff were
surveyed in relation to various aspects of the WDS and this report is a compilation of
their responses. Employers were generally supportive and provided constructive
feedback with respect to both strengths and weaknesses of the initiative. While there
was overwhelming support for a proactive affirmative action employment strategy,
respondents were divided with respect to the shape of such an initiative. Employees
unanimously endorsed the continuation and expansion of the WDS and revealed high
levels of satisfaction with management, colleagues and the UWA environment.

The report recommends, based on the above findings and the benefits of greater
workforce diversity, the continuation of the Strategy in its current format with a range
of mechanisms designed to focus and streamline operational aspects of the Strategy.
These recommendations aim to address the identified gaps, thereby building on the
achievements of the Strategy and extending the University’s commitment to
encouraging greater workforce diversity.




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              Summary of Recommendations
Recommendation 1

Undertake a targeted University-wide awareness raising campaign at all levels of the
organisation, particularly senior Managers, with a view to developing a deeper
understanding of:

      employment diversity and its intersection with race, disability, Indigeneity and
       organisational social responsibility
      Equal opportunity, diversity and discrimination, cultural awareness and
       managing for diversity
      Human rights and organisational social responsibility
      Operation of the WDS including procedure for advertising, selection and the
       role of the Equity and Diversity Office

Recommendation 2

Maintain the core elements of the WDS in its current format but allow for greater
flexibility with respect to pathways of recruitment at the University. This could
include:
     a pool of suitable candidates, updated quarterly, appointable at HEE 3 using
        standardised position descriptions
     targeted recruitment from the priority areas e.g. Muslim women, mature aged
        Indigenous staff, youth from priority areas, recently arrived refugees
     Expand the WDS to include higher level positions within the general staffing
        stream and positions within the academic stream, with a particular focus on
        Indigenous Australians
     A centrally-funded Traineeships Scheme which would articulate to direct
        employment at UWA
     offer work experience placements of at least eight weeks duration
     greater use of the UWA Casual Pool as a diversity recruitment strategy

Recommendation 3

Continue to approve specific requests for relaxing the mandatory WDS recruitment
requirement where an area is clearly able to demonstrate that exclusive WDS
recruitment would adversely impact efficiency or for which there is not a readily
available pool through the WDS.

Recommendation 4

More stringent work ‘fit’ assessments to be conducted in areas where this trend has
been reported as a workplace issue e.g. pre-commencement visits, information
sessions as a precursor to group recruitment exercises, comprehensive fact sheet
containing detailed description of the position to enable prospective applicants make
more informed choices and judgements.



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Recommendation 5

Increase the frequency of meetings held with WDS recruits with a view to providing a
sharper skills focus in relation to both personal and professional development.

Recommendation 6

Design, in collaboration with Organisational and Staff Development Services,
appropriate training and development strategies for employees recruited through the
WDS.

Recommendation 7

Broaden the scope and membership of the WDS Reference Group to align
accountability within a community engagement and social responsibility framework.
This would include more senior representation from both academic and administrative
units, DJB staff representation and representatives of the local Indigenous, CALD and
People with Disabilities communities.

Recommendation 8

Actively encourage WDS recruits whose employment is ceasing to avail themselves
of an exit interview in order that their reflections of the employment experience at
UWA can be recorded.

Recommendation 9

Monitor the career progression of WDS employees from a longitudinal perspective to
assess promotional and career development trends.




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                                      PART 1

1.     Context

1.1 Background

The University is committed to developing strategies that will not only maximise
opportunities for all Western Australians to actively participate in employment, but
also enhance service delivery to an increasingly diverse student population. The
Workforce Diversity Strategy (WDS) was developed in this context and is premised
on the understanding that achieving true workforce diversity represents a continuous
process of culture change and involves ‘widening the door, not lowering the bar’.
The Strategy has identified as a priority enhancing the workforce representation and
distribution of Indigenous Australians, people of culturally and linguistically diverse
backgrounds and people with disabilities.

The Workforce Diversity Strategy, launched by a representative of the Premier of
Western Australia in March 2001, has involved the establishment of a Diversity Job
Bank (DJB) comprising a network of employment service providers in the identified
priority areas. A variety of employment opportunities have been offered through the
DJB with a view to ensuring sustainable outcomes, and the majority of all
recruitments at Levels 1-3 in the general staffing stream are now managed through the
job bank. Staff have been employed in either an ongoing capacity or have had fixed-
term contracts of at least six months duration. Several WDS recruits have entered the
University workforce at higher levels and there has been one appointment to the
academic stream.

A core element of the Strategy involved advertising a position through the DJB when
vacancies arise. During the first eighteen months of the WDS, positions were
advertised concurrently through both the DJB and generic channels i.e. ‘The West
Australian’ and UWA Human Resources General Staff Vacancies Page. In November
2002, the University made a further commitment to the WDS and, under the auspices
of the Vice Chancellor’s Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee, modified its
existing recruitment policy to require that all entry level positions be filled through
the DJB in the first instance. This had an immediate positive impact on the WDS and
resulted in significantly better employment outcomes.

In 2002 and 2003, the WDS won the prestigious national accolade of the Prime
Minister’s Employer of the Year Award for the Employment of People with
Disabilities in the higher education sector. The success of the WDS can be attributed
to strong leadership and senior management commitment, an ongoing awareness
raising program and culturally appropriate support strategies for participants.

The WDS was developed with the intention of running for an initial three year period,
with an evaluation to be carried out at the end of this period. Accordingly, the Equity
and Diversity Committee and the Workforce Diversity Strategy Reference Group
requested that a comprehensive evaluation be carried out with a view to determining
the future shape of the University’s response to workforce diversity.


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1.2 Demographic information

The Strategy has achieved significant outcomes (See Attachment 1) to date. Since
2001, 90 staff have been recruited, comprising 18 Indigenous Australians, 37 people
of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and 35 people with disabilities.
More than two thirds of staff recruited through the WDS have been women, which
complements UWA’s strong gender equity track record. This recruitment has
occurred within the general staff stream, comprising around 1,600 employees. The
positions have been varied and include ongoing positions, fixed-term contract
positions, traineeships, cadetships and supported teams within a wide range of
organisational units at UWA. In keeping with the developmental intent of the
Strategy, approximately thirty staff have either been promoted or offered ongoing
employment within a relatively short period of time. The Strategy has achieved an
encouraging retention rate and of those WDS staff no longer employed within UWA
(due either to cessation of their contract or other reasons), approximately a third left to
pursue other educational outcomes or alternative employment.

2. Methodology
It was determined that a questionnaire targeting both employers and staff recruited
through the WDS would be the most appropriate data collection tool.

2.1    Survey development

The Equity and Diversity Office developed two survey instruments for both
employers and staff employed through the WDS in accordance with the aims and
objectives of the evaluation. The items in the survey were sourced from a range of
workforce diversity and generic human resources instruments and literature e.g. UWA
Working Life Survey, Diversity Improvement Management Plan.

A draft of both surveys was canvassed with the Director, HR, members of the WDS
Reference Group, employee representatives and key employment service providers.
The surveys were modified to include their suggestions.

2.2    Survey Description

Both surveys were largely qualitative in nature as there was consensus among
members of the Reference Group that it was important to provide participants with the
opportunity to respond freely to the survey items.

The Employer Survey (See Attachment 2) had four questions. The questions sought
information on whether respondents had participated in the WDS, their impressions
about the various aspects of recruitment through the WDS, the extent of their support
for the WDS to continue as a core program at UWA and, finally, any feedback in
relation to the WDS.

The WDS Staff Survey (See Attachment 3) also had four questions. The questions
largely assessed satisfaction around managerial competence, workplace culture,
perception of promotional prospects and support provision. These respondents were


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also requested to report the manner in which the WDS had impacted their personal
and professional lives and, finally, to suggest strategies that could strengthen and
improve this initiative.

Participants in both surveys were also given a covering letter from the then Deputy
Vice-Chancellor in his capacity as Chair, Equity and Diversity Committee, which
briefly described the WDS and its achievements to date, outlined the aims of the
survey and encouraged their participation.

2.3       Survey Administration

2.3.1 Employers

The Employer survey was sent to all Deans, School Managers, UWA Librarian and
other senior Administrative Heads.

There were thirty eight employers who returned the survey. It was difficult to
compute an exact response rate as certain areas (School Managers within a Faculty
and Library) provided a composite response for their respective areas as a whole.
Notwithstanding this observation, it would be safe to surmise that this figure
represents a high response rate, given that most DJB staff have been recruited to the
Faculties, Library and certain areas within Central Administration.

2.3.2 Employees

Staff employed under the Strategy were requested to provide feedback through two
mechanisms:

         A focus group held at the November 2003 meeting of the recruits where the
          purpose of the evaluation was explained and participants were requested to fill
          out the survey
         An email sent to all recruits requesting their participation in the evaluation.
          They were given the option of either returning it electronically as an email
          attachment or returning it via fax or the internal mail at UWA.

There were twenty four employees who returned the survey. Once again, this
represents a high response rate as this figure is approximately two-thirds of the staff
employed through the WDS still currently employed at UWA.

3.        Summary of responses
3.1       Overview

The nature of feedback from both the questionnaire administered to the employers and
the staff recruited through the WDS was largely positive. The following section
describes the key findings distilled from the feedback received from UWA employers
and employees recruited through the WDS. (Sections 6 and 7 in Part Two contain a
detailed and complete record of the feedback received from both UWA employers and
employees recruited through the WDS).



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Employer’s perspective

From an employer perspective, feedback was generally supportive with respect to all
facets of the WDS. While there was overwhelming support for an ongoing and
sustainable diversity employment strategy, there were contrasting views as to how this
objective could be achieved. Some employers also raised specific concerns about
certain aspects of the WDS, including the philosophical basis underpinning it. The
evaluation has framed a range of recommendations designed to address specific
concerns raised about various aspects of the Strategy.

The following is a summary of the key comments that were made in relation to the
Strategy:

3.1.1 Advertising through the WDS

The majority of respondents were positive about the advertising component of the
WDS citing benefits including cost savings and meeting organisational social
responsibility through targeting specific groups. The key issues identified related to
the perceived length of the process, potential delays if the WDS route failed to source
a suitable applicant and a lack of understanding of the WDS recruitment process.

Comment:

The concerns raised with respect to both length of process and potential delays are
legitimate as efficiency is a critical organisational issue. However, it is important to
note that an advantage of the DJB is its flexibility and capacity to respond to the
requirements of the employer. In some instances, turnaround times are very quick to
suit the needs of the employer. It is this very amorphous nature of the process that is
an advantage as it allows for the initiative to be responsive. While it is acknowledged
that in the event where the DJB process may not yield a successful outcome would
add another two or so weeks to the process, this inconvenience should be balanced
against the stated organisational commitment towards the WDS. It is understood that
these instances have been infrequent and have never occurred in an area on more than
one occasion.

Concerns expressed in relation to a lack of understanding of the logistics of the WDS
recruitment process have been acknowledged and will be incorporated within the
response to this evaluation. The document outlining the policy framework for the
WDS, ‘DJB Policies and Procedures’ has been circulated to the heads of all
organisational units within UWA.

Recommendation 1

Undertake a targeted University-wide awareness raising campaign at all levels of
the organisation, particularly senior Managers, with a view to developing a
deeper understanding of:

      employment diversity and its intersection with race, disability,
       Indigeneity and organisational social responsibility



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      Equal opportunity, diversity and discrimination, cultural awareness and
       managing for diversity
      Human rights and organisational social responsibility
      Operation of the WDS including procedure for advertising, selection and
       the role of the Equity and Diversity Office

   Recommendation 2

   Maintain the core elements of the WDS in its current format but allow for
   greater flexibility with respect to pathways of recruitment at the University.
   This could include:
       a pool of suitable candidates, updated quarterly, appointable at HEE
          3 using standardised position descriptions
       targeted recruitment from the priority areas e.g. Muslim women,
          mature aged Indigenous staff, youth from priority areas, recently
          arrived refugees
       Expand the WDS to include higher level positions within the general
          staffing stream and positions within the academic stream, with a
          particular focus on Indigenous Australians
       A centrally-funded Traineeships Scheme which would articulate to
          direct employment at UWA
       offer work experience placements of at least eight weeks duration
       greater use of the UWA Casual Pool as a recruitment strategy

Recommendation 3

Continue to approve specific requests for relaxing the mandatory WDS
recruitment requirement where an area is clearly able to demonstrate that
exclusive WDS recruitment would adversely impact efficiency or for which there
is not a readily available pool through the WDS

3.1.2 Selection process through the WDS

Many respondents were positive about this component of the WDS citing time
savings owing to a smaller pool and a good field that had been quality managed. The
key issues identified related to the limited pool of candidates, perception of pressure
exerted to employ through the WDS and the amorphous nature of the process.

Comment:

The DJB process draws on a smaller, more targeted base as positions are circulated
through specialist employment channels i.e. Indigenous, multicultural and people with
disabilities recruitment agencies. It is therefore not surprising that the pool of
candidates will generally be smaller than a pool drawn from an advertisement placed
in the mainstream press. Concerns expressed in relation to the amorphous nature of
the process have been acknowledged and efforts have been made to redress repeated
operational inconsistencies in the program. The recommendations also contain
practical suggestions to strengthen this aspect of the process.




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It is worthwhile noting that some employers indicated that a smaller pool was
advantageous as the potential applicants had already been ‘vetted’ by their respective
agencies.

Recommendations 1 and 2 apply.

3.1.3 Quality of staff recruited through the process

Many respondents were positive about this aspect of the WDS as it opened pathways
to recruitment at UWA to people from non-traditional sources e.g. people with
disabilities, Indigenous Australians. The key issue identified related to a perception
that staff recruited through the WDS are not of the same quality as those attracted
through an open advertising process owing to a smaller pool and limited skills base.

Comment:

Some respondents reported a perception that the WDS was compromising the quality
of staff recruited at UWA. It is important that this issue be addressed in the context of
a general discussion of how merit and competence are assessed at UWA (See 5.1). It
can be observed here that traditional concepts of merit do not place the same value on
diversity of background and experiences that are valued in a proactive recruitment
strategy designed to better reflect community demographics in the UWA workplace.
It is also important to recognise the need to make a tangible contribution within
organisational units towards meeting equal opportunity, diversity and broader social
responsibilities. All appointable WDS recruits are required to meet the essential
criteria for the position. The onus lies, within the context of UWA’s stated
commitment to social responsibility, on local management to address a ‘quality’
shortfall where one has been identified and develop the WDS recruit. Equal
opportunity is not about treating and assessing everyone in a similar manner – rather,
it is about appropriately different treatment to ensure equality of outcomes,
recognising the labour market is not a level playing field.

Recommendations 1 and 2 apply.

Recommendation 4

More stringent work ‘fit’ assessments to be conducted in areas where this trend
has been reported as a workplace issue e.g. pre-commencement visits,
information sessions as a precursor to group recruitment exercises,
comprehensive fact sheet containing detailed position description to enable
prospective applicants make more informed choices and judgements.

3.1.4 Level of training and support required for the WDS recruit to undertake
the duties required

The majority of respondents were of the view that DJB staff did not require additional
support other than that required for any new member of staff with comparable
experience. They also indicated satisfaction with the level of support provided where
special needs were to be considered and they lacked the expertise to progress the
matter. The view was also expressed that excessive support needs were often


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indicative of a poor ‘fit’ for the job and that a more rigorous selection process would
ameliorate this issue.

Comment:

The comments above reflect a strength of the WDS in that, unlike some affirmative
action strategies based solely on group membership, this Strategy judiciously
combines identified need with a broader assessment of merit and skills. All suitable
candidates are required to meet all the essential criteria for the position and must be
deemed appointable.

The process is currently being further streamlined with a view to improving the ‘fit’
between a candidates’ abilities, skills and experience and the requirements of the job
through the implementation of strategies that enable the staff member better align
their skills, experience and expectations with the requirements of the position.

Recommendations 1 and 4 apply.

Recommendation 5

Increase the frequency of meetings held with WDS recruits with a view to
providing a sharper skills focus in relation to both personal and professional
development.

Recommendation 6

Design, in collaboration with Organisational and Staff Development Services,
appropriate training and development strategies for employees recruited
through the WDS.

3.1.5 Use of alternative employment options eg. Traineeship/Cadetships

The responses in this category were largely positive among those who had experience
with either of these categories of employment. The only issue identified was that the
administrative requirements of the schemes had at times been burdensome.

Comment:

This issue has already been addressed through representation to the relevant
government bodies administering both schemes in the Federal and State Government
sectors. Employers participating in the Traineeship and Cadetship schemes more
recently have reported positive feedback in relation to all aspects of the process.

3.1.6 Support provided by the Equity and Diversity Office

The majority of the participants reported positive experiences in this area. The key
issues identified related to the perception of pressure exerted by the Office, greater
support for staff rather than management when issues arose and a desire to see the
Office more proactive in coordinating the training and development program for the
WDS staff member.


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Comment:

The Equity and Diversity Office validates the perceptions expressed above by some
participants in the employer category. The Office acknowledges that this perception
may have arisen through the enthusiastic marketing of the WDS as a core social
responsibility initiative of the University, particularly during the first eighteen months
when employer participation was voluntary.

Equity and Diversity Office staff are clear that, while they advocate for and
administer the WDS, objectivity and the observance of procedural justice are critical
for the credibility of the Strategy. In all instances where issues have arisen subsequent
to the employment of a DJB recruit, Equity and Diversity Office staff have
endeavoured to work constructively towards a positive outcome for both management
and the staff member concerned.

Finally, concerns expressed in relation to the training and development program for
the WDS staff member have been noted and will be incorporated within the response
to this evaluation. The Equity and Diversity Office is mindful of its boundaries in this
area as the WDS is premised on the notion of ‘mainstreaming’ where the primary
onus lies on managers to respond effectively to a diverse range of developmental
needs with appropriate support and resourcing from the Office.

Recommendations 1, 5 and 6 apply.

3.1.7 Manner in which the WDS has particularly added value to your work areas
and The University of WA in general

The responses were very positive with participants citing a wide range of benefits,
namely, adding diversity to the staffing profile to better align it with the student base,
encouraging the organisation to deepen its experience in relation to diversity,
particularly cross-cultural sensitivity and an opportunity to define the ‘merit’ concept
more broadly. Finally, the Strategy has afforded the organisation an opportunity to
demonstrate leadership and good practice in the area of organisational social
responsibility.

3.1.8 Would you like to see the WDS continue as a core recruitment program at
UWA? Please indicate reasons why for both an affirmative or negative position.

This item drew a mixed response from participants. While the majority of respondents
were supportive of the concept of an employment diversity strategy, there was a broad
range of views expressed (presented in the section below) in relation to the form of
such an initiative.

3.1.9   Would you suggest any changes to the Workforce Diversity Strategy?




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Participants provided a range of constructive responses to this issue. There were two
key themes running through the responses:

      That the WDS should be retained in its present format and expanded. Greater
       attention should be given to operational aspects such as job matching,
       screening applicants and post-recruitment training and support.

      The contrary view that the WDS should operate under a mixed model with
       management prerogative to be exercised in terms of advertising exclusively
       through the WDS or concurrently with advertisements in the West Australian
       and other media

      Participants from both schools of thought supported the implementation of a
       centrally-funded traineeship scheme where staff are able to prove their ability
       and pick up valuable systemic knowledge prior to articulation into more
       permanent employment at UWA

Comment:

While a large number of participants in the employer category supported the
continuation of the WDS in its current format, a significant number (i.e. almost a
third) indicated a preference to revert to the original choice-based model. The WDS
operated for the initial 18 months under a choice-based model and the outcomes were
patchy owing to a natural tendency to recruit traditionally and against historically
determined criteria. These employment outcomes improved significantly following
the policy amendment requiring all ‘suitable’ positions to be advertised through the
WDS in the first instance. Affirmative action research consistently indicates that
targeted strategies should be strengthened and sustained in order to achieve
meaningful outcomes in the long term.

Recommendations 1, 2 and 3 apply.

Recommendation 7

Broaden the scope and membership of the WDS Reference Group to align
accountability within a community engagement and social responsibility
framework. This would include more senior representation from both academic
and administrative units, DJB staff representation and representatives of the
local Indigenous, CALD and People with Disabilities communities.

Employees’ perspective

The feedback from the WDS staff unanimously endorsed the continuation and
expansion of the WDS and revealed high levels of satisfaction with management,
colleagues and the UWA environment. While there was a smattering of responses that
alluded to a culture that was not welcoming and supportive, these participants
indicated they had been able to either manage the situation and positively impact
organisational culture or that they had secured a position elsewhere in the University.
The following is a summary of the key positive aspects identified:



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      Opportunities for career progression, continuous learning and skills
       development

      Professional validation including skills recognition

      Development of a clear sense of identity, belonging and community

      Managerial competency including clear sense of direction, appropriate training
       and support and cultural sensitivity

      Positive culture where staff are valued, recognised and able to achieve their
       full potential

      Unanimous view that the WDS should be continued and expanded to gain
       University-wide coverage and employment opportunities at higher levels

      Positive impact in terms of reshaping the culture at UWA

There were a minority of respondents who aired some concerns. Given the nature of
the WDS, it is important that these ‘voices’ are heard:

      There was a reported perception of a lack of cultural sensitivity in the work
       place. One respondent named this set of behaviours as being racist and
       indicated that they had felt ostracised by the broader group who, in their
       perception, had aligned with the more senior staff member allegedly
       displaying these behaviours

      An observation reported several times was that in some work environments,
       respondents had been tagged as ‘diversity’ people which may have led to a
       underestimation around their abilities and their recruitment on merit

      Some respondents indicated that, while the lunch time meetings were useful in
       terms of networking and information exchanged, it was important to have a
       sharper focus in terms of personal and professional development

      Some respondents expressed concern in relation to their capacity for
       promotion citing both perceived attitudinal and structural barriers within
       UWA.

Recommendations 5 and 6 apply.

Recommendation 8

Actively encourage WDS recruits whose employment is ceasing to avail
themselves of an exit interview in order that their reflections of the employment
experience at UWA can be recorded.




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Recommendation 9

Monitor the career progression of WDS employees from a longitudinal
perspective to assess promotional and career development trends.

4.     Analysis
The findings of this study indicate a generally positive response to the WDS at UWA.
Employers were, for the most part, positive in relation to the WDS. Many cited
diversity benefits such as enhanced client services when the staffing profile better
reflected the community, tapping into talent from non-traditional sources and
demonstrating leadership in diversity best practice. While there was overwhelming
positive support for an affirmative action strategy, there was a mixed response
regarding the question of the continuation of the WDS in its current format. The
challenge for the organisation at this point is to develop a response that builds on the
achievements of the WDS and further extends the University’s commitment to
encouraging greater workforce diversity, whilst also effectively addressing the
operational concerns expressed by some employers.

While the preceding section provided an assessment of the WDS, the following
factors must be taken into consideration in determining the future shape of the
program:

Leadership in Organisational Social Responsibility

The implementation of the WDS supports the University in meeting its
responsibilities as a leading institution in Western Australia. Agencies such as UWA
that actively contribute towards the social dimension of triple bottom line accounting
accrue the benefits of enhanced reputation and relevance and client satisfaction. The
Strategy has made available the opportunity for tangible improvement to the lives of
individuals within the identified communities. This effect has wider positive
ramifications when these individuals promote the University within their own
communities, thus opening up channels of communication where meaningful
connections can be made with constituencies whose voices are often not heard e.g.
new and emerging ethnic communities, Indigenous Australians,

Culture change – Mainstreaming equity.

The University recognises that integrating equity into the broader organisational
management framework enhances both the efficiency and effectiveness of the
program. The ‘mainstreaming’ of equity, as in the case of the WDS, recognises that
this initiative can be met within existing budgets across the University’s
organisational units. This enhances the capacity of various organisational units to
capture the benefits of workforce diversity and further develops organisational
competency in the area of effective workforce diversity management.

Working in partnership with agencies

The University has demonstrated a tangible commitment towards working in
partnership with other agencies in order to achieve the WDS objectives. It has


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actively participated in joint ventures with other agencies in all spheres of both
government and non-government e.g. The University has, in the implementation of
the WDS, worked in close partnership with recruitment networks in the disability,
Indigenous and cultural diversity sectors. Similarly, the Equity and Diversity Office is
represented on the peak multicultural services body in WA, the Metropolitan Migrant
Resource Centre.

Reputation and branding

In keeping with its established reputation as being amongst the leaders in the field of
equity best practice, UWA has featured prominently in recent times with respect to
showcasing the WDS and other complementary initiatives at a variety of state,
national and international gatherings e.g. WA Public Sector Diversity Forum,
EOPHEA (Equal Opportunity Practitioner’s in Higher Education) 2003 conference
and an International Human Rights and Diversity Conference. The University has also
been advised that other agencies in the WA public sector and in the higher education
sector nationally are adopting the UWA model.

Small number of positions offered under the WDS

The number of positions offered through the WDS as a percentage of the total number
of general staff positions at UWA is miniscule. In 2003, there were approximately
300 positions offered within the general staffing stream and 27 positions were offered
through the WDS, thus giving a figure of a less than 10%. It is very unlikely, given
that the WDS is reviewed regularly and applies primarily to HEE 1-3, that a situation
will arise where there will not continue to be a mix of staff recruited through a range
of levels.

5.     Conclusion

It is clear that the WDS has made a significant contribution to all facets of life at
UWA. It is encouraging to note that the employment diversity principle was almost
unanimously supported by employers who believed the University should continue to
demonstrate leadership in this important area. However, feedback received through
the employer’s data and anecdotal experience suggest that there are pockets where
diversity and organisational social responsibility are seen as being well intentioned
but superfluous to core business in the final analysis. It is important that the future of
the Strategy continues to build on the goodwill displayed and enrols management in a
further conversation around race, disability, Indigineity, diversity and organisational
social responsibility. Deepening the dialogue will assist in enlisting more widespread
support for the goals of the WDS and ensure that the University remains focussed on
achieving real employment outcomes for the identified groups.

There was widespread support among the employer body for the continuation of an
affirmative action employment strategy. Philosophical support for the WDS has also
been expressed anecdotally and through various other university platforms. However,
both research and practitioner experience indicate that, unless the organisation makes
a tangible commitment in terms of real jobs, employment outcomes are negligible and
largely unsustainable in the longer term. Several organisations have amended their



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advertisement and recruitment strategies in terms of diversity-friendliness but, in the
absence of systemic change and targeted initiatives, there has been little or no impact
in terms of change in staffing profile. Conversely, organisations (e.g. Qantas, WA
Department of Conservation and Land Management, Westpac) that have implemented
a multi-pronged initiative encompassing targeted recruitment and retention strategies
have clearly demonstrated success in the long term having been rewarded with a
growing number of committed and high achieving staff that better reflect the
Australian community.

It is also important to discuss the notion of merit in the context of assessing the
performance and determining the future shape of this workforce diversity initiative.
In a higher education context, merit is generally assessed as being a decision-making
process involving objective, rational and measurable criteria. Employment decisions
based on this notion of merit believe that these criteria are largely neutral and
constitute a key component in a ‘fair’, ‘just’ and reasonable recruitment process.
There is also a view held that incorporating equity and diversity considerations in a
discussion of merit my contaminate the process, thereby adversely impacting the
quality of staff recruited. These widely accepted truisms often ignore the fact that
merit is not an objective concept and is largely determined by socio-historical factors
that have shaped the organisation over time. The processes of UWA are driven by the
core assumptions underlying the dominant paradigm i.e. male, white, Christian and
able bodied. Given that staff recruited through the WDS would, for the most part, fall
outside the historical construction of merit, their quality and unique contribution (e.g.
language skills, cultural experience, Indigeneity, different perspectives) may not be
fully appreciated. It is therefore important that a broader interpretation and more
inclusive definition of merit be adopted which recognises the different experiences
and perspectives of staff recruited through the Strategy together with our social
responsibility as a leading institution in this State. .

The above discussion highlights the fact that while there are some legitimate concerns
with respect to the operation and strategic direction of the WDS, there are compelling
reasons (See Section 4) to consolidate and extend the achievements of the Strategy. It
is therefore recommended that the WDS continue in its present format with
appropriate adjustments to streamline the operation of the initiative.

It is anticipated that the nine recommendations outlined in the body of the report will
strengthen this initiative through addressing the identified employer concerns and
further embedding the WDS within the diversity and leadership framework at UWA.




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Attachment 1
Total number recruits employed through the UWA Workforce Diversity Strategy –
February 2001 – 2004 (by gender and priority area)


February 2001 to February 2004
                                    People with       Culturally
                  Indigenous                                               Male           Female
                                    Disabilities       Diverse
 Numbers               18                37                35                30               48
  Overall
                                         90                                33%              67%
   Total
** Note: A significant proportion of men have been recruited into non-traditional areas such as
administration, reception and counter work and the UWA Library

Workforce Diversity Strategy Staff through UWA

Faculty of Agriculture, Landscape and Visual Arts                                    3

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences                                      0

Faculty of Economics and Commerce (UWA Business School)                              5

Faculty of Education                                                                 4

Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics                                    4

Faculty of Law                                                                       0

Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences                                                6

Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry                                                    19

Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences                                         3

Library                                                                              19

Administration                                                                       27

Total                                                                                90
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Attachment 2

WORKFORCE DIVERSITY STRATEGY – EMPLOYER SURVEY




            WORKFORCE DIVERSITY STRATEGY REVIEW - 2003



UWA implemented the Workforce Diversity Strategy (WDS) in 2001 as part of its
commitment towards maximising opportunities for all Western Australians to access
and actively participate in rewarding employment. The WDS has achieved impressive
outcomes in a short period of time and has offered a mix of employment options to
more than seventy people from the identified priority areas: Indigenous Australians,
people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with
disabilities.

The University through the WDS has been recognised as being a leader in
employment diversity practice. The University received the impressive accolade of
winning the Prime Minister's Employer of the Year Award in 2002 for its strong
commitment to the employment of people with disabilities and have recently been
advised that we are a finalist for the 2003 Employer of the Year Award.

In recognition of its outstanding success to date, the Vice-Chancellor's Equity and
Diversity committee formed the view that UWA could build on its achievements by
conducting an evaluation of the Strategy. It is anticipated that the findings of the
evaluation will contribute significantly towards shaping the future of UWA's
commitment to workforce diversity. The WDS policy document can be found at
www.hr.uwa.edu.au/equity/welcome/workforce_diversity_strategy.

Could you please respond to the following survey and return your completed
evaluation form to Ms. Anne Martin, Human Resources (M 350) by Friday 24th
October 2003.

Thank you in advance for your participation.




Robert Farrelly,
Director,
Human Resources,

12 October 2003


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PLEASE INSERT YOUR RESPONSE (IN BOLD) AFTER EACH QUESTION.


Q1.       Has your section/unit recruited through the Workforce Diversity Strategy (WDS).

                Yes                              Number of Recruits
                No. Go to Question 4 and 5.


Q2. Please describe your experience with respect to the WDS on each of the following aspects:

      o   Advertising through the WDS


      o   Selection process through the WDS


      o   Quality of staff recruited through the WDS.


      o   Level of training/support required for the WDS recruit to undertake the duties
          required.


      o   Use of alternative employment options e.g. Traineeships/Cadetships (if applicable).


      o   Support provided by the Equity and Diversity Office.


Q3. In what way do you think the WDS has particularly added value to your work area and to
    the University of Western Australia in general?


Q4. Would you wish to see the WDS continue as a core recruitment program at UWA?
           Yes
           No

      o   If NO, please state your reasons.


      o   If YES, what suggestions would you make to strengthen the WDS?


Q5. Would you suggest any changes to the Workforce Diversity Strategy and why?




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Attachment 3

WORKFORCE DIVERSITY STRATEGY – STAFF EVALUATION

UWA implemented the Workforce Diversity Strategy (WDS) in 2001 as part of its
commitment towards maximising opportunities for all Western Australians to access
and actively participate in rewarding employment. The WDS has achieved impressive
outcomes in a short period of time and has offered a mix of employment options to
more than seventy people from diverse backgrounds.

In recognition of its outstanding success to date, the Vice-Chancellor’s Equity and
Diversity committee formed the view that UWA could build on its achievements by
conducting an evaluation of the Strategy.

Please respond to the following brief survey describing your experience as a staff
member recruited through the WDS. All responses will be treated
CONFIDENTIALLY.

      Your views on the UWA working environment (both generally and your
       specific area)


      Your views about your immediate supervisor/management in your area



      Your views about your opportunities for professional growth and career
       development



      Whether you have personally experienced and/or seen and heard colleagues
       making unwelcome comments, gestures, jokes which may be considered
       offensive in relation to race, gender, age, disability etc


      Your views about the Workforce Diversity Strategy and it’s impact on you
       both professionally and personally



      Any other general thoughts/suggestions in relation to the Workforce Diversity
       Strategy




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