Placing gender on the public sector agenda

Think governments are achieving gender diversity in the workforce? Think again.

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How five disconnects are holding back gender diversity

In a time of monumental change for governments and public sector organizations, the ability to draw on a diverse pool of talent — including a mix of genders, ethnicities, ages and backgrounds — is a critical factor in helping governments adapt to the changes disrupting the sector. There is strong evidence that diverse and inclusive leadership sparks better debate, stimulates innovation, and enhances problem-solving and decision-making. In short, it leads to improved performance and better outcomes.

In mid-2016, EY surveyed 80 government and public sector leaders from a range of countries. We wanted to understand their views on gender parity at the leadership level. The survey built on an earlier study involving interviews with 350 business leaders from seven sectors: automotive, banking and capital markets, consumer products, insurance, life sciences, oil and gas, and power and utilities.

Our research reveals overwhelming agreement that gender diversity is crucial to combating the challenges faced by the public sector. Despite valuing diversity, many public sector organizations are not addressing the gender gap in a way that will deliver the needed change. Sixty percent of respondents believe they do not have sufficient diversity of thought and experience within their leadership team.

EY - Placing gender on the public sector agenda

Through our research, we identified five disconnects that are holding back government and public sector organizations from achieving gender diversity on their senior leadership team.

  1. The reality disconnect: Public sector leaders assume the issue is nearly solved despite little progress within their own organizations.
  2. The data disconnect: Organizations don’t effectively measure how well women are progressing through the workforce and into senior leadership.
  3. The pipeline disconnect: Organizations aren’t creating pipelines for future female leaders.
  4. The perception and perspective disconnect: Men and women don’t see the issue of gender parity the same way.
  5. The progress disconnect: Different sectors agree on the value of diversity but are making uneven progress toward gender parity.

In this report, we explore each of these disconnects to better understand the key barriers that women face in moving ahead in their organizations. We also share our insights on what government and public sector organizations can do to accelerate the journey to gender parity.

“We are experiencing unprecedented change and digital disruption is feared by some and welcomed by others. But dramatic changes have happened before, and our history provides millions of success stories that in my view have one factor in common: we succeed when we work together and when we utilize knowledge and experiences from all available sources. We have a huge untapped knowledge pool — in all industries and in all countries. Improved gender diversity is an important part of the solution to master change and to turn disruption into opportunities and growth.”

Anne Grette, EY Nordic Government and Public Sector Leader
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