A safe and accessible city

City of Sydney named Inclusive Employer by Diversity Council Australia

From gender equity to cultural inclusion, our diverse and connected workplace is recognised.

New Starter Welcome Forum October 2022 Credit: Chris Southwood, City of Sydney

The City of Sydney has been recognised as an Inclusive Employer by the Diversity Council Australia. An inclusive workplace is defined as one where diverse people are respected, connected, and can progress and contribute to organisational success.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion are long held values at the City of Sydney. Working with Diversity Council Australia has helped us to translate these values into more deliberate action that will benefit our workplaces and our employees.

Our inclusion in the Diversity Council Australia list reflects the work we have done over many years to create and maintain a safe, respectful and collaborative workplace,” said Director of people, performance and technology Susan Pettifer.

We began our organisational diversity and inclusion journey about 15 years ago, starting with gender equity. At that time, local government was a very male dominated industry, and there were very few women in leadership positions.

We worked systematically on gender until we achieved some results before tackling LGBTIQA+ inclusion, followed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employee inclusion, disability inclusion and cultural inclusion.

Gender equity’s most tangible outcomes

The number of women employed by the City of Sydney has grown from 29% in 2005 to 43% in 2022. Women now make up two-thirds of our senior leadership team and half of our team managers are women.

In 2023, we extended paid parental leave to 26 weeks and paid partner leave for non-primary carers to 6 weeks. Leave for secondary carers supports them to take on a more active parenting role with newborn or adopted children.

In 2018, we paid superannuation for up to 52 weeks of parental leave. This can contribute to closing the gender wealth gap as women accumulate on average half the superannuation of their male counterparts.

We have an active employee network for women, support for breastfeeding women, and mentoring programs.

We were the first local government in Australia to publicly report on gender pay gaps. For 6 years in a row, we have defied Australian trends with a pay gap in favour of women. Our 2022 gender pay was 5.3% in favour of women.

We know that not all women or men experience the workplace equally: we are now focusing on intersectionality. Our focus has moved to understand the work experiences and career opportunities of women from culturally diverse backgrounds, women with a disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce strategy 2023-2026 was published in June 2023. The strategy’s objectives are to support, recruit and invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and create a culturally aware and skilled workforce.

“We actively seek Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates, removing barriers where possible. This has included hosting dedicated recruitment open days and help with job applications. We’re also working with our employees to establish culturally appropriate policies and procedures,” Susan said.

Our stretch reconciliation action plan 2020–2023 is our second and most ambitious reconciliation action plan – putting the City of Sydney on the third level endorsed by Reconciliation Australia. It supports equity, opportunity and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Listening to the voices of others, finding ways for everyone to belong

In employee consultations that informed our new purpose and values, it was evident how important inclusion is to our employees and how proud they are to work in diverse teams.

This feedback was so strong, it became the foundation of our ‘Better together’ value.

Better together means we do our best when we listen to the voices of others and work as a team. We value diverse experiences and perspectives and work hard to make our workplaces and communities places where everyone feels included.

“To acknowledge and celebrate this, we have just introduced care and cultural leave. It allows employees to use up to 3 days of their accrued sick leave every year for health and wellbeing, and cultural and religious days or events of significance.

This leave reminds us that we celebrate our diversity and find ways for everyone to belong. Our inclusive employer status is an incredible reflection of this commitment and acts as a motivator for us to continue to improve.

Of course, there is much more to do. We recognise that this type of change takes time and must be embedded into the ‘machinery’ of the organisation’s systems, behaviours and processes for the change to become enduring” Susan said.

Interested in a career at the City of Sydney? Take a look at our current open opportunities.

Published 8 November 2023, updated 13 May 2024