Chapter 4: Principle 1: Strong leadership drives reform

Key findings of ADF Review

To support and drive the cultural reform envisaged by the ADF Review, strong, clear and consistent leadership is essential. This commitment must be widely communicated and reinforced at all levels of the organisation through policies, practices, rewards and sanctions. Progress must be monitored at the most senior levels regularly and transparently. Every member of the ADF needs to know that its chain of command takes cultural reform seriously and affords it priority and resources.

The Audit’s findings in respect of the implementation of each recommendation follow.

Recommendation 1
The Chiefs of Services Committee (COSC) should take direct responsibility for the implementation of the Review’s recommendations, make decisions, monitor key metrics and take corrective action.

 

Intent of Recommendation 1

The ADF Review considered that cultural reform of the scale envisaged must be led and driven by the most senior levels of the organisation, not just in the initial phase of implementation, but in an ongoing way. Tracking progress means that metrics must be established, implementation must be monitored and any emerging issues acted upon swiftly and authoritatively.

Implementation actions

Recommendation 1 is being implemented. On 12 October 2012, COSC issued a DEFGRAM announcing that COSC agreed to the implementation of the 21 recommendations of the ADF Review.1 The DEFGRAM states that implementation of the ADF Review has been integrated into Pathway to Change.

Recommendation 1 was agreed ‘in principle’ in respect of COSC’s critical role in the implementation of the ADF Review’s recommendations. However, as the Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force Advisory Committee (SCAC) and the Defence Committee (DC) are responsible for overseeing the implementation for Pathway to Change, it is also critical that these committees are involved in implementation.

Audit findings

The Audit welcomes the acceptance of the ADF Review’s recommendations and the involvement of the other high level committees overseeing Pathway to Change. The Audit received evidence that COSC is updated on matters pertaining to the implementation of particular recommendations and has made key decisions in relation to progress.

To improve the effectiveness of the total reform agenda COSC should be briefed in a more overarching way at each meeting, rather than in the current issue-specific or recommendation-specific way. Decisions are being sought, and made, on particular issues as they arise but there has been little wider feedback across all recommendations to date. The Performance Framework (discussed in the section on Recommendation 2) may provide a useful basis for regular ongoing reporting to COSC.

Recommendation 2

COSC should articulate and communicate a strong and unambiguous commitment to the effect that:

  • Targets are required to create an environment that is optimal for, and takes full advantage of, the strengths of both men and women.
  • Leaders will be held to account for the wellbeing and culture of their teams.
  • Every sexual offender and harasser will be held to account, together with leaders who fail to appropriately address the behaviour.
  • Flexible working arrangements underpin capability and are an important recruitment and retention tool.
  • Women are essential to the sustainability and operational effectiveness of the ADF because they contribute to a diverse workforce which strengthens the ADF’s ability to be an effective, modern, relevant and high performing organisation.

This statement should be supported by a performance framework to ensure high performing defence environments where both men and women can thrive. The performance framework should be incorporated into all leader development, including individual performance appraisals, and formal development occurring in training organisations and recruit schools, and will be reinforced at all levels of the organisation. The consequences of non-adherence to the framework will be actioned including through limiting career advancement opportunities.

 

Intent of Recommendation 2

Recommendation 2 was designed to secure strong and unequivocal commitment from Defence leadership and to actively promote broad organisational understanding of diversity, both as a core Defence value and as an operational imperative linked to capability and operational effectiveness.

Implementing a cultural reform program of this scale requires the strategic integration of performance metrics into day to day systems and processes, including training and development; promotions; and performance appraisals. In this way, changes are operationalised and embedded in the organisation to ensure their sustainability. Broad commitments and statements about valuing diversity are essential, but insufficient without these practical organisational anchors.

Implementation actions

As part of the Information DEFGRAM issued on 26 November 2012, COSC issued a Foundation Statement which, as proposed by the ADF Review, articulated a strong and unambiguous commitment to the implementation of its recommendations. The COSC statement affirms that ‘the senior leadership in Defence is deeply committed to cultural reform’ and restates the words of Recommendation 2.2 The Foundation Statement concludes by explaining that:

These statements have been agreed at the highest levels of Defence and are not open to negotiation – they will underpin targeted activity to progress Review recommendations to ensure the Australian Defence Force is a high performing environment where both men and women can thrive.

The Foundation Statement was signed by the CDF, VCDF, each Service Chief and the Acting Secretary of Defence.

In addition to the Foundation Statement from COSC, each Service committed to a range of initiatives to achieve the intent of the recommendations and Pathway to Change. These will be further detailed throughout this Report.

At its 19 September 2013 meeting, COSC endorsed a Performance Framework for Gender Inclusion in the ADF.3 This was designed to encapsulate the Review’s key outcomes and to ‘provide both clear strategic intent regarding Review recommendations, as well as practical implementation guidance to personnel at all levels of the organisation’.4

Each Service has reinforced COSC’s commitment to reform in a variety of ways as explained in the following section.

Navy

In January 2013, Navy established the position of Deputy Director Diversity and Inclusion to drive organisational reform outcomes through the development of a comprehensive Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Strategy (2013-2018).5 Navy’s diversity goals are to:

  • Attract, recruit, develop and retain talented, diverse individuals
  • Create a culture of inclusion in Navy to leverage existing diversity
  • Integrate diversity and inclusion principles into all Navy people, policy, processes and practices.

The D&I Strategy is to be underpinned by a D&I Statement6 which is designed to demonstrate Chief of Navy’s (CN) commitment, support reform and provide personnel with an unequivocal indication of CN’s expectation of the desired culture and behaviours. At the time of writing, the statement is still in draft and the strategy is under development.

In further support of this recommendation, Navy states that it will be re-instating its Navy People Plan which ‘will reinforce the discipline and importance of Navy managing a totally integrated workforce and serve to reinforce and support the messages regarding professionalism and behaviour’.7 The Navy People Branch is also currently reviewing the standards of human resource management expertise and professionalism that is expected of those with workforce management responsibilities and it is anticipated that ‘explicit standards and expectations of HR professionalisation will be developed’.8

Army

Chief of Army (CA) stated that the ‘primary goal for Army is to substantially increase the proportional representation of women... from the current 10% to 12% in mid-2014, with a view to maintaining that rate of growth into the future’, meaning from 3000 to 3600 by mid-2014.9 CA states that this will be achieved by ‘increasing the rate of enlistment of women, maximising their participation across Army, intensively managing their opportunities at all ranks and increasing their retention’.10 These objectives are further supported by the introduction of the Army Executive Council for Gender Diversity, and Unconscious Bias training.

In addition to ‘courage, initiative and teamwork’, the value of ‘respect’ has been added to Army values,11 explained as ‘respect for ourselves, our colleagues, our community and our history of service to the nation; acknowledging that each one of us has earned the right to wear the Rising Sun Badge and the responsibility to uphold the values and traditions it symbolises’. CA has described the value of ‘respect’ as being ‘the glue that binds the other three together’.12

Army Career Management has issued guidance for completion of officer performance appraisal reporting.13 The guidance suggests that the assessing officer’s report must highlight aspects of performance that differentiate the relevant officer from their peer and that, if necessary, ‘the commentary should describe any particular weakness in detail’.

Army has achieved considerable progress in addressing flexible work arrangements. The CA Statement of Intent has been released; a Commander’s Handbook has been developed and promulgated; and workshops and base visits have been undertaken. Army has also established a Flexible Work Cell to manage all formal and informal flexible work arrangements in Army; while training on flexible work is currently being developed for inclusion in all officer and soldier training. These initiatives will be addressed more fully under Principle 4.

The development of Army’s Enhanced Career Management model for soldiers aims to ‘maximise opportunities to attract and retain Army’s soldiers’.14 This innovative approach to career management is aimed at enhancing capability by providing ‘balanced, flexible and rewarding career opportunities that meet the expectations of the individual and provide actionable options to the chain of command’.15

Air Force

In September 2012 the Chief of Air Force (CAF) launched the New Horizon program. In his communications about New Horizon CAF ‘draws a line in the sand for our new beginning’16 and describes the launch activities as ‘merely the first step in what will be a long term program of cultural reform in Air Force’.17 Air Force states that New Horizon addresses the Review recommendations.18

There have been two ‘key lines of effort’19 in relation to New Horizon:

  • CAF launched a new Air Force values statement in September 2012 which ‘sets clear expectations of the standards acceptable to Air Force’. The launch and subsequent workshops engaged over 80% of Air Force and resulted in the development of codes of conduct or behavioural compacts at the unit level.20 CAF followed up with a Minute to all Group Captains (GPCAPTs) and above Reservists on 12 December 2012 introducing New Horizon in which he declared his expectations of leadership in upholding the new Air Force values. This launch of New Horizon is supported by a detailed action plan which covers communications, visits, merchandising, organisational changes and enhanced training and workshops.21
  • Ensuring that the cultural evolution envisaged by New Horizon is supported by aligned and effective personnel systems and processes. Air Force asserts that this is a continuation of efforts over the last 10 years and is ‘the critical foundation piece for future program success’. Air Force is ‘investing up-front’ in those areas most likely to result in meaningful, enduring and systemic cultural change but acknowledges that ‘there is still much to do in communicating and educating the workforce on our policy changes, and subsequently achieving the consistent, deep penetration of new attitudes and behaviours required to be a better Air Force’. This is identified as the next priority.22

Air Force undertook a cultural assessment project in 2013 in order to establish a baseline of elements of Air Force culture ‘that members like and dislike’.23 There were over 3300 responses to this survey which provides some guidance to senior leaders on what Air Force is doing well and where it needs to ‘prioritise New Horizon program initiatives’. Whilst the Audit is supportive of this approach it only received very brief information about the results of this Air Force survey and is unclear whether it will be repeated on an annual basis.

Air Force has developed the Air Force Leadership Companion as a key initiative of New Horizon.24 The Brief for CAF states that ‘following the Skype incident and subsequent reviews, Air Force staff in concert with the Centre for Leadership and Ethics identified a deficiency in Air Force leadership doctrine’.25 The Companion now includes ‘the concept of Social Mastery as an equally important tenet of Professional Mastery, alongside Technical (specialisation/mustering) and Combat (Air Power) Mastery. The sub-tenets of Character, Professional Ethics, Followership, and Leadership within Air Force are the primary focus of the Companion’.26 The Companion ‘emphasises that Air Force personnel, at every level, need to possess the strength of character necessary to identify and prevent ethical shortfall’.27

Air Force has reinforced the importance of adhering to its values by including a new mandatory performance objective in senior officer appraisals.28 The objective reads:

Visibly demonstrate the Air Force values both in word and action. Create and lead a workplace culture based on accountability at all levels for behaviour that is consistent with the Air Force values.

Air Force has also drafted a Values and Ethics Program Course as part of the Air Force Professional Military Training which will be ready for distribution to students commencing in 2014.29 This new program will make explicit reference to the cultural reform strategy and expectations of behaviour.

Audit findings

The COSC Foundation Statement is a powerful and timely document which should leave no doubt in any member’s mind about the commitment of the most senior ADF leadership to cultural reform. This forms a solid start upon which to build reform.

The Performance Framework for Gender Inclusion in the ADF underpins the COSC Foundation Statement. The Framework is a detailed and comprehensive document which clearly outlines accountabilities and responsibilities at all levels in the organisation with respect to each of the six key areas of focus, being:

  • Leadership support for gender inclusion
  • Targets to support increased participation by women
  • Career progress
  • Career and personal support
  • Workplace flexibility
  • Appropriate behaviour.

The Framework provides tangible and measurable evidence against which to track the intent of the ADF Review’s recommendations and will be a pivotal element of implementation and monitoring. The delay in its development, however, is regrettable. The Audit acknowledges that it was developed in close consultation with the Services and was reliant on their timely feedback.

Given that the Performance Framework has not yet been implemented, it is unclear how it will be communicated and ‘reinforced at all levels of the organisation’, or how the ‘consequences of non-adherence to the framework will be actioned including through limited career advancement opportunities’ as required by Recommendation 2. For each area of focus there is a ‘reporting/documenting achievement’ strategy listed, but it is too early for the Audit to assess the quality and scope of information that will be used to satisfy this reporting accountability.

It is imperative that the Performance Framework is widely promulgated and reinforced in order for it to have visibility and relevance. The Audit was not provided with any documentation in this regard so it requested further information from Defence on this matter.30 On 4 December, 2013 the Audit was advised that:

Defence is currently developing an implementation plan and comms strategy, but each Service will assume responsibility for roll out in their respective service; Comms plan and Implementation strategy will be forwarded for COSC approval in the New Year.31

As a central piece of the accountability mechanisms for the implementation of the ADF Review recommendations, the Audit looks forward to this matter being prioritised as a matter of urgency and, though it is not yet operational the Framework will be referred to throughout this Report as a guide to what is intended to be achieved.

The Audit trusts that, from 2014, reporting to COSC will be done in a systematic and regular way using the Performance Framework in order to ensure that progress is visible and that corrective action is taken in a timely manner, particularly as there is still much to be done ‘on the ground’ with regard to communication, messaging and education.

Recommendation 3

COSC should publish a ‘Women in the ADF’ Report each year, as a companion document to the ADF Annual Report. The companion document should publically report on the progress of the implementation of the Review’s recommendations and key metrics including, but not limited to:

A. Women’s participation

  • Number and proportion of women recruited in each Service (via ab initio, mid-career/lateral entry, recruit to trade, recruit to area, from the Reserve and other specific recruitment initiatives)
  • Number and proportion of women in each Service and rank
  • Number and proportion of women:
    • at executive level in each service
      » in the pipeline in each service
      » in targeted occupations which are highly gender segregated
  • Number and proportion of women’s promotions by Service and at each rank
  • Gender balance on key decision making bodies within ADF
  • Retention of women:
    • Gap between men and women’s retention and separation rates
    • Number returning to work from paid and unpaid maternity and parental leave
    • Number of men and women taking career breaks
  • Measures of occupational segregation
  • Outcomes of gender pay audits
  • Number of women accessing mentoring/sponsorship.

B. Women’s experience

  • Gender disaggregated data from key organisational surveys including:
    • Defence Attitude Survey
    • Exit Surveys
    • Climate, Culture and Pulse surveys.

C. Access to flexible work

  • Number of men and women accessing formalised flexible working arrangements across all ranks
  • Number of applications submitted for flexible working arrangements

Proportion of applications for flexible working arrangements that are approved.

D. Sexual harassment and abuse

  • Number of complaints
  • Types of complaints eg sexual harassment, sexual assault

Relevant demographics of complainant and respondent eg work area, rank

  • Number of complaints dealt with internally:
    • Number investigated
    • Number resolved
    • Time taken from receipt of complaint to finalisation
  • Cost per complaint:
    • Internal
    • External.

This data is to be reported by Service and work location or base.

 

Intent of Recommendation 3

The intent of Recommendation 3 was to encourage transparent, regular reporting that could provide the ADF and the Australian community with meaningful, comprehensive and timely data on the treatment of women in the ADF. Its intent was also to provide the ADF with metrics by which to track progress, identify problem areas and take corrective action. It was envisaged that the 2012-2013 ‘Women in the ADF’ Report would provide an important baseline against which to measure progress over time.

Implementation actions

On 25 June 2013 the Deputy Secretary, Defence People, wrote to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner seeking further clarification on Recommendation 3. The Deputy Secretary indicated that significant resources had been committed to ensuring that it was fully achieved, but flagged that there may be some gaps in the reporting for 2012-2013, such as flexible employment reporting. The Deputy Secretary raised four issues and sought clarification.

The Commissioner responded welcoming the clarification and noted that:

Our responses are not meant to be prescriptive or limiting in any way and I would encourage you to interpret them broadly and beneficially if in doubt. We provide these answers to assist in the practical implementation of the recommendations and they are in no way meant to influence or impact on the audit.

The issues, the Commissioner’s response and information about how these were addressed are presented below.

The first ‘Women in the ADF’ Report was subsequently produced and presented information in four areas, as required by Recommendation 3 of the ADF Review:

  • Women’s participation
  • Women’s experience
  • Access to flexible work
  • Sexual harassment and abuse.

The ‘Women in the ADF’ Report also included information of relevance to the ADF Review’s recommendations regarding broadening the talent pool from which leadership is drawn (Recommendation 6); growth targets for women recruited into each Service (Recommendation 9); and setting an annual growth target for the number of flexible work arrangements (Recommendation 13).

The Audit notes a number of issues with the Report as detailed below.

Content of the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report

Women’s participation

The ‘Women in the ADF’ Report provides excellent information on women’s participation. The Audit looks forward to tracking progress in the future as information becomes available on particular recruiting initiatives and numbers of women accessing mentoring/sponsorship opportunities.

Occupational segregation

In relation to measures of occupational segregation Defence sought the following clarification:32

Recommendation three, sub para A requests data outlining ‘the number and proportion of women in targeted occupations which are highly gender segregated’, while separately requesting data on ‘measures of occupational segregation’. We believe that detailing the number and percentage of women in every occupational group in the ADF will fulfil both of these data requirements. Can you please advise if this will meet your expectation?

The Commissioner’s response stated that:33

The intent of this part of the recommendation was to create a tool which would allow Defence to identify potential workforce concerns, and areas in which women’s representation is low. The two possible concerns with this approach are:

  1. That ‘occupational groups’ may not be defined with enough clarity to enable areas to be identified, and area specific solutions examined.
  2. The information may be presented in a way which is difficult to understand (eg large tables full of numbers and statistics where ‘highly gender segregated’ occupations are not highlighted
It would be important to ensure that these concerns were addressed in any work done in this area.

Table 3 of the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report provides data on the ADF permanent force by gender, occupational group and rank group (Officers and Other Ranks) as at 30 June 2013. This is an excellent and informative snapshot of Defence’s workforce and the Audit expects that this data will inform decision making and action to address occupational segregation.

However, in order to strengthen the material provided, the Audit suggests that some detail is provided in the ‘Notes’ as to what is included in each of the occupational groupings. This will also serve to target interventions.

The Audit also notes that across the ADF, 923 personnel appear as ‘uncategorised’. Of these, 85.4% are men.34 All but three of these personnel are Officers. It would be very helpful to provide a breakdown of this significant group.

Gender pay audit

Defence sought the following clarification on this issue:35

Recommendation three, sub para A notes a requirement to report the outcomes of a gender pay audit. This recommendation will prove very difficult to achieve in a succinct manner, noting the large number of job roles and differing pay scales across each service. Unlike other organisations where there may be variance of pay between individuals undertaking similar roles, the pay scales in Defence are strictly mandated by the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal (DFRT). The DFRT is an independent assessment body which determines pay scales according to ‘work value’. As there is no scope within this system for individual pay negotiations, can you please clarify your intent regarding this particular aspect of the Women in Defence Report?

The Commissioner’s response stated that:36

The intent of this recommendation was to gain clarity on the roles and seniority that women hold in the organisation, and how this is reflected in pay-scales. It also sought to examine whether there is evidence that a range of other issues that our consultations have shown that women in the ADF face (eg. occupational segregation, taking time out of the workforce and reaching their rank ceiling) could contribute to a gender pay gap.

The Review understands that the DFRT determines pay scales and there is no scope for individual negotiations within what they have decreed. However, this does not mean that gender pay gaps do not exist.

What we are seeking to understand is whether roles in which women are well represented are determined to be of lower ‘work value’ than other roles in which men are well-represented, and how this plays out across the organisation. This information is important for the Defence leadership to view and understand.

Some data is provided in the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report on the gender pay audit.37 Though the Audit is aware that Defence remuneration considerations are not based on gender, the issue that the ADF Review recognised was that, as a highly occupationally segregated workforce in which ‘women are disproportionately represented in lower ranks and in occupational groups that are lower in pay grade’,38 there will be differentials between the pay received by men and women.

Analysis of this data is required to determine whether or not Defence has a gender pay gap.

Flexible work

The Audit is aware of measures to improve access to flexible work and to capture flexible work data (see Recommendations 13 and 14) and looks forward to this information being reported in future years.

Sexual harassment and abuse

On the specific issue of the cost of complaints, Defence sought the following clarification:39

Recommendation three, sub para D requests data pertaining to the ‘cost per complaint’ for internal and external complaints. Defence’s financial systems make cost capture at individual activity levels highly problematic, if not impossible. As such, we don’t anticipate being able to meet this element of your recommendation in reporting this year. It would be useful to facilitate a meeting between your team and key Defence People Group/financial experts to understand what is achievable now and into the future.

The Commissioner’s response stated that:40

We look forward to further clarity and an explanation of what DPG and your finance people believe is achievable. However it is imperative that all the costs associated with sexual harassment and abuse are known and presented transparently, and this includes financial costs.

As flagged, this element was not reported in the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report. The Audit urges Defence to investigate how it can capture the costs associated with sexual harassment and abuse as, when these ‘hidden’ costs are made explicit, organisations better understand the impact of sexual misconduct and turn their attention to trying to diminish and manage these costs.

Overall, the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report presents a range of information which indicates that the experiences of men and women are different. A few examples follow:

The top three reasons women leave the ADF (see Table 21 of the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report) are:

  • Lack of control over life
  • Desire for less separation from family
  • Impact of job demands on family/personal life.

The top three reasons men leave the ADF are:

  • To make a career change while still young enough
  • Better career prospects in civilian life
  • Desire for less separation from family.

Air Force is appropriately focusing on Aviation as a category in which women are underrepresented (11.2%). However women are also significantly underrepresented in the Aviation category in both Navy (5.3%) and Army (6.6%) (see Table 3).

Nearly twice as many women (22.8%) than men (12.5%) believe that reporting sexual harassment, sex discrimination or sexual abuse would have a negative impact on their career (see Table 40).

Many more women (26.7%) than men (18.4%) agree that people within the Service who harass others usually get away with it (see Table 40). Many more women (34.6%). than men (20.1%) report that they have been the subject of workplace bullying (see Table 41).

How the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report is published

Defence sought the following clarification on this issue:41

Recommendation three states that the Women in ADF report should be a ‘companion document’ to the Annual report. We feel that making the report an integral part of each annual report will ensure it has a legacy beyond immediate review actions. As such, we intend to include the report as an appendix in the Defence Annual Report, rather than as a separate companion document. The intent is not to diminish the report, rather, to elevate the importance of the data by ensuring it forms an integral component of each year’s report.42

The Commissioner’s response stated that:

Our concern with this approach is that people do not always read appendices, and the information contained is often perceived as not integral or critical to the main report. A companion document does not necessarily need to be confined to immediate review actions. We would prefer to see two reports come out at the time that the annual report is released.43

The ‘Women in the ADF’ Report was subsequently released as a separate document, while the Defence Annual Report includes a brief overview about how Defence is addressing the outcomes of the ADF Review.44 As at 6 January 2014, however, the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report is difficult to find. The Annual Report includes a reference to it being available online.45 At http://www.defence.gov.au/annualreports/index.htm the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report is included as ‘Online Content’, along with a range of other information such as complaint handling and reporting, environmental performance and the capital investment program, but it is deeply nested and not easily accessible.

The listing of online content is preceded by the following statement:

The following information is supplementary to the Defence Annual Report 2012-13 and is referred to throughout the printed and PDF versions of the report in orange bold italic font links. These links are not yet active. The full report, including the supplementary information will be available in an interactive online format by the end of November. Please use the supplementary information below for the time being.46

The intent of Recommendation 3 is that the information in the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report be a vehicle for the ADF to report publicly on progress on the implementation of the Review’s recommendations and key metrics. It is intended to provide information to Defence and the Australian public in an accessible and transparent manner. Its location and means of access at the time of writing, however, does not give it the prominence it warrants, as it does not stand as ‘an integral part’ of the Annual Report as requested by the Commissioner.

Whist the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report was released at the same time as the Defence Annual Report and was not produced merely as an appendix, the lack of prominence it has been given has nevertheless rendered it almost invisible to anyone other than those who know about it and have time to search for it. The Audit commends the ADF on the production of the Report but trusts that, in future years, this work is given more prominence and that accessibility is significantly improved.

Audit findings

The Audit agrees that this first ‘Women in the ADF’ Report:

provides a strong baseline for future reporting regarding women’s participation and experience in the ADF. This baseline will enable Defence to accurately track trends regarding women’s employment and experience, identify areas of concern and highlight successful initiatives across the three Services. This process will ensure that the current momentum towards cultural reform is maintained into the future.47

The ‘Women in the ADF’ Report is intended to be a public document which provides meaningful and accessible information to Defence and the public about the representation and experience of women in the ADF. The ‘Women in the ADF’ Report is dense and data rich, with the information being drawn from a number of existing databases in Defence and represents substantial effort. Defence is therefore to be congratulated on the extensive work undertaken to collate and present the information.

The intent of Recommendation 3 is to provide meaningful and accessible information to Defence and to the public about the representation and experience of women in the ADF. For Defence, this can enable the tracking of progress of cultural reform and informs strategic and operational decision making. For the public, this can inform the Australian community, researchers and other interested parties on these issues.

While the Audit commends the ADF for commencing regular reporting on the experience of women in the ADF it suggests that its accessibility and comprehensibility be strengthened in the future.

The Audit is confident that the ADF will continue to improve the value of this important document by releasing it in a more comprehensible and accessible format, and by employing more in depth analysis and discussion of the data it contains to enable it to become a more useful management and decision making tool. The Audit also acknowledges that the Report will benefit in future years from the addition of comparable data from the Unacceptable Behaviour Surveys.

Finally, the Audit urges Defence to closely examine the data in the ‘Women in the ADF’ Report and to use this report to inform action and decision-making.

Recommendation 4

COSC should ensure that commanding officers are accountable for a healthy organisational culture, for being regularly available to engage directly with members and for taking any corrective action as required. This includes effective management of alleged incidents of harassment, discrimination and unacceptable behaviour, managing flexible work arrangements (FWA), meeting FWA targets, and involvement in mentoring and sponsoring members. The ADF will administer regular climate surveys to assist commanding officers understand and improve organisational culture and performance. The last survey prior to the conclusion of the posting should inform the commanding officer’s Performance Appraisal Report (PAR).

 

Intent of Recommendation 4

Recommendation 4 was founded on recognition that Commanding Officers must be accountable for creating and maintaining a healthy organisational culture. This includes being available, on a regular basis, to engage directly with members about workplace concerns and inappropriate behaviour. This should be done with a view to early identification and expeditious resolution. In order to shape and reinforce the desired organisational behaviour and modelling, it is also critical that a healthy culture is an active component of performance appraisals and that assessments be based on agreed criteria and data, rather than impressions.

Implementation actions

Recommendation 4 was agreed to in principle.48 Rather than full implementation, COSC agreed to monitor its key elements to inform performance management through existing reporting tools and the accountabilities and responsibilities of leadership support for gender inclusion within the Performance Framework previously outlined.

This item was again presented to COSC at its September 2013 meeting.

The briefing paper drafted by the ODU for the September 2013 COSC stated that climate surveys occur within the Services using a variety of tools49 but are not conducted annually as a matter of routine. The paper explained that neither Recommendation 4’s requirement to administer climate surveys regularly to inform COs, nor that survey data be used at the conclusion of posting to inform an individual’s PAR, could be achieved by the Services. This was indicated to be due to a range of factors including resourcing, external influences and the inappropriateness of these tools as a measure of individual performance.

The paper concluded by stating that ‘attribution of unit culture to a specific individual and subsequent performance and career consequence is ethically indefensible’.50 The Audit believes that leaders have a key responsibility for generating and sustaining culture and communicating core values and beliefs within an organisation. Research supports this contention.51

In relation to the ADF, COSC noted that the Services have existing survey mechanisms that monitor unit climate but which are not administered annually and that ‘there is no prescriptive way to legitimately compare CO performance by survey to inform performance appraisals and attribute career consequence’.52

In order to satisfy this recommendation, the ODU proposed that COSC ‘agree to pursue use of existing reporting mechanisms’53 and that implementation could commence for the 2014 reporting period once the required education and communications were in place.

Evidence of particular implementation actions by each Service follow.

Navy

Navy states that considerable work has been completed on enhancing CO accountabilities through NGN culture projects.54

The brief for CN on this issue notes that Navy meets the intent of Recommendation 4 through the use of Navy Officer Performance Appraisal Reports, attendance at Leadership Development workshops, selection processes, training and organisational culture evaluation. The brief outlines a number of mechanisms through which Navy assures COs remain accountable and concludes that ‘collectively, analysis of the above information provides a barometer for command and management, and a means to objectively assess the performance of COs in executing their unambiguous cultural responsibilities and accountability’.55

Army

CA’s directive regarding Army values and the standards of behaviour required of Army personnel details expectations of behaviour and advises that failure to adhere may result in disciplinary action and/or the imposition of administrative sanctions.

The Director Of Career Management – Army (DOCM-A) guidance will be updated in January 2014 and will direct assessing officers to consider the performance of a CO when dealing with unacceptable behaviour, promoting and adhering to Army culture and values and flexible work arrangements.

These requirements are also reinforced during the pre-command courses attended by COs prior to assuming command appointment.

Air Force

Air Force has provided evidence of progress on Recommendation 4 from a variety of perspectives:

  • A review of Command project is underway and is examining the objectives and subject matter of the Air Force Commanders course and ensuring all appointed COs complete the RAAF COs course prior to assuming any CO appointment.
  • A review of Air Force Command capability is being undertaken. This will ‘identify the measures to appropriately define, recognise and support the generation of Air Force’s command capability and the elements that should inform the selection and training of Air Force commanders’.56 The final report was due in October 2013 but has not been provided to the Audit.
  • Chief of Air Force hosted an Air Force Commanding Officers’ Call from 12-16 August 2013.
  • Air Force is currently researching a 360 degree feedback tool to guide the development and mentoring of Commanding Officers.57 Air Force’s ‘Appointment to Command’58 is a clear and powerful articulation of CAF’s expectation that Commander’s will lead cultural reform, create an environment of mutual respect and trust, be self-disciplined and communicate effectively with their personnel.
  • As noted in Recommendation 3, Air Force has included a new mandatory performance objective in senior officer appraisals. More holistically, however, it is also currently developing a new PAR system, the need for which has been evident for some years.59 Like the other Services, Air Force is now taking the opportunity of the various reviews and the commitments in Pathway to Change as the lever to move to a new PAR system.60
  • In addition to the Air Force Cultural Assessment Project (‘AFCAP’), (noted in Recommendation 2), Air Force has also included two additional items in their Safety Culture survey which measure respondents’ perceptions of negative organisational behaviours, being ‘Experienced bullying/harassment’ and ‘Authorities responsive’. Results indicate that 20% of women (compared with 14% of men) agreed61 that they had experienced bullying/harassment at this unit’. In response to whether respondents were confident that inappropriate behaviour would be acted upon by senior authorities in the unit if they became aware of it, 79% of women agreed compared with 84% of men.62 However, the report provided to the Audit states that ‘it is difficult to establish the generalizability of the results due to variations in response rates across work/demographic groups’.
  • RAAF’s Group Equity Coordinator checks open cases of unacceptable behaviour incidents on the Complaint Management, Tracking and Reporting System (ComTrack) weekly and provides briefings accordingly.

Audit findings

The Audit acknowledges that there are a variety of climate surveys and assessment tools in use across Defence. The purpose of these instruments is usually to ‘take the temperature of the unit’s culture’ in order to address issues arising and target interventions, as surveying regularly can keep command informed of any changes and help to assess whether particular interventions are having the desired impact. This is critical information for a CO and the command team.

It is also true that there can be external influences on the results of climate surveys63 and that a CO cannot be held accountable for some of these influences. The issue for a CO, however, is not that they are necessarily responsible for these ‘external’ issues, but how they address and manage them, and how they prevent them in the future.

The analysis conducted for COSC was limited to the instruments currently in use. The Audit agrees that these instruments are in place for different purposes and may not be the appropriate instruments by which to hold a CO accountable. However, individual accountability is critical and there may be other approaches or instruments that could potentially assist in this area to effect cultural change.

The Audit is therefore disappointed that, one year on from the tabling of the Report, the Services have not found a way to hold COs directly accountable for their work unit’s culture and the particular elements detailed in the recommendation. Nor have the Services found a way of using this information to inform performance appraisals and career decision making, suggesting that the status quo has been maintained.

Though each Service presented evidence to the Audit on how they have attempted to implement Recommendation 4, and though each particular approach has merit, on the whole the Audit finds that only limited progress has been made.

In terms of Service specific findings, the Audit supports the extensive and ongoing work that Navy has undertaken through its NGN program. It is clear from the evidence provided that these initiatives are having a positive impact on organisational culture.64 However, the Audit considers that further work and improvement can be made in this area. NGN is a broad cultural change initiative which, among other things, aims to ‘enhance people management performance’, ‘enable timely action to address shortfalls’, ‘facilitate alignment of organisational and individual goals’, and ‘promote a people focussed culture.’ These are broad organisational cultural imperatives and directions. The intent of Recommendation 4 is specific and individualised and is therefore appropriately measured through performance appraisal instruments.

Through its examination of documentation, consultations and discussions with personnel and events reported in the media, the Audit is aware of examples of failures in leadership, unhealthy organisational cultures and disaffected individuals in some locations. Rather than relying solely on what is in place through NGN in relation to Recommendation 4, the Audit suggests that Navy actively engage with its intent to identify additional ways COs may be held accountable.

The Audit also finds that Army’s changes to performance reporting are limited. Whilst the system has been enhanced,65 there is nothing explicitly stated on how COs will be ‘be held to account for the wellbeing and culture of their teams’ as required by the recommendation.

A review of the RAAF Commander’s course is being undertaken by a senior Air Force member. This is heavily reliant on consultation with Air Force members, with some reference to Army and Navy points of contact for pre-command training. The Audit considers that this work may benefit from some external input and assessment.

Air Force has not settled on which cultural assessment tool it will use to inform its PAR process. The Safety Culture survey tool provided to the Audit is a limited instrument in relation to assessing the overall culture of a unit. It is unclear whether – and if – the AFCAP tool will be used as the instrument against which to measure a CO’s performance and the extent to which data can be localised.

Similarly, the role of Group Equity Coordinators and the reporting of UB data has been established for some years.66 The Audit is unclear why this has been provided as evidence of progress of implementation of Recommendation 4 and is unsure how, and to what extent, this is taken into account at the local level or in relation to a CO’s PAR.

The key element of Recommendation 4 is individual accountability. Many of the initiatives implemented at the Service level are positive and, taken together, will be powerful tools to promote a healthy organisational culture. The missing element, however, continues to be personal and professional accountability and the impact this has on career progression. The Audit urges Defence and the Services to recommit to the implementation of Recommendation 4 as a priority.

Conclusion – Principle 1

Many of the building blocks upon which to achieve cultural reform are now in place. The ADF’s leadership quickly and decisively accepted the ADF Review’s recommendations and promulgated a Foundation Statement supporting the intent and principles of the cultural change program and gender equality. The Audit has no doubt about the strong commitment of senior leadership to reform.

The key mechanism by which to monitor and track progress, the Performance Framework, is robust and has been developed with significant input from the Services, but is still not operational. As the Report will detail, the ADF has invested a great deal of effort into progressing initiatives, some of which are being evaluated. To date, however, there has been no single coherent accountability mechanism by which to monitor impact, report comprehensively, or evaluate success against agreed criteria. The Audit encourages Defence to implement the Performance Framework as a matter of priority.

The ‘Women in the ADF’ Report has been published and includes a great deal of valuable information, providing an important and public baseline against which to track and report on progress. It contains data collated from various Defence databases and the Audit acknowledges the ADF’s efforts in this regard. There are a number of gaps in information which the Audit trusts will be addressed in future reports. The ‘Women in the ADF’ Report is not as easily accessible as the ADF Review intended and it would be improved by better presentation, further analysis and interpretation.

The ADF is a dispersed, complex, fast paced organisation. The intent of many of the ADF Review’s recommendations is to embed the commitment to cultural reform into everyday practice through policy, practice, and individual accountability. Generally the Services responded to Recommendation 4 by referring to broad cultural change programs, with some minimal changes to performance reporting. This is necessary but insufficient. Holding senior individuals to account for playing their part in achieving broad organisational reform is an essential, but missing, element.

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Chapter 4: Endnotes

  1. Department of Defence, Information DEFGRAM No 812/2012: Chiefs of Service Committee Foundation Statement Regarding the Implementation of the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force Phase 2 Report, 26 August 2013.
  2. The Audit notes a minor change of wording from ‘Flexible working arrangements underpin capability’ to ‘Flexible working arrangements enhance capability’. The Audit does not view this as a significant change.
  3. Chiefs of Service Committee, Agendum Paper 69 of 13: Framework for Gender Inclusion in the Australian Defence Force – Implementing Recommendations from the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force – Phase 2 Report, 2012, 22 July 2013, provided to the Audit by ODU, 29 October 2013.
  4. Defence People Group, Performance Framework for Gender Inclusion in the Australian Defence Force, October 2013, p 2, provided to the Audit 29 October 2013.
  5. Draft Navy D&I Strategy (2013-2018).
  6. Director of Navy Plans and Programs, Decision Brief for CN: CN Diversity and Inclusion Statement, June 2013.
  7. Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Navy Audit Summary Report in Response to the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force (Phase 2 Report) 2012, 30 August 2013, p 4. The Audit has not been provided the Navy People Plan and cannot comment on the extent to which this will address the recommendation.
  8. Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Navy Audit Summary Report in Response to the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force (Phase 2 Report) 2012, 30 August 2013, p 4.
  9. Chief of Army, Army Gender Diversity Plans, Minute, OCA/OUT/2012/R11956695, 6 August 2012; Chief of Army, Army Gender Diversity Developments, letter to Sex Discrimination Commissioner, 8 August 2012; Chief of Army, Enhancing Capability Through Gender Diversity, CA Directive 16/12, R11887082, 20 August 2012.
  10. Chief of Army, Enhancing Capability Through Gender Diversity, CA Directive 16/12, R11887082, 20 August 2012.
  11. Chief of Army, The Introduction of ‘Respect’ as Army’s Fourth Value, CA Directive 31/13, R15040840, 4 July 2013. The value of ‘Respect’ has been added to the existing values of ‘Courage, Initiative and Teamwork’.
  12. Chief of Army, Respect – the Fourth Value (Speech, Townsville, 4 July 2013).
  13. Directorate of Officers’ Career Management – Army, Guidance for the Completion of AE359 Performance Appraisal Report (ePAR).
  14. Chief of Army’s Senior Advisory Committee, Chief of Army’s Senior Advisory Committee Submission: Enhanced Career Management – Army (Soldiers), June 2013.
  15. Chief of Army’s Senior Advisory Committee, Chief of Army’s Senior Advisory Committee Submission: Enhanced Career Management – Army (Soldiers), June 2013.
  16. Chief of Air Force, New Horizons – Air Force’s Cultural Reform Program, RAAF Minute OCAF/OUT/2012, 12 December 2012.
  17. Chief of Air Force, New Horizons – Air Force’s Cultural Reform Program, RAAF Minute OCAF/OUT/2012, 12 December 2012.
  18. Royal Australian Air Force, Air Force Summary Tracking Sheet, 2013, p 1; Nous Group, Air Force New Horizons Personnel Strategy and Plan, 21 December 2012, p 5.
  19. Chief of Air Force, letter to Sex Discrimination Commissioner, 26 August 2013.
  20. A number of examples of these were provided to the Audit as evidence.
  21. Royal Australian Air Force, New Horizon – Air Force Adaptive Culture Post 14 Sep 12 Action Plan Summary, Version 7, 25 July 13.
  22. Chief of Air Force, letter to Sex Discrimination Commissioner, 26 August 2013.
  23. Royal Australian Air Force, Recommendation 4 – Supplementary Information: Air Force Cultural Assessment Project 2013 Overview; Organisational Development Unit, email to the Audit, 11 December 2013.
  24. Royal Australian Air Force, The Royal Australian Air Force Leadership Companion, June 2013.
  25. Director General Personnel – Air Force, Brief for CAF: Air Force Leadership Companion, AB12021423, March 2013.
  26. Director General Personnel – Air Force, Brief for CAF: Air Force Leadership Companion, AB12021423, March 2013.
  27. Director General Personnel – Air Force, Brief for CAF: Air Force Leadership Companion, AB12021423, March 2013, p 8.
  28. Chief of Air Force, Senior Officer Appraisal – Mandatory Performance Object, CAF Directive 01/13, 21 November 2012.
  29. Royal Australian Air Force, Senate Estimates Brief: Cultural Reform Initiatives – New Horizons Program, Minute, DGFPERS-AF/OUT/1013, May 2013; Director General Personnel – Air Force, Values and Ethics PMET CLOs based on Broderick Recommendations, June 2013.
  30. The Audit made this request for further information on 27 November 2013.
  31. Organisational Development Unit, email to the Audit, 4 December, 2013.
  32. Deputy Secretary, Defence People, correspondence to the Audit, 25 June 2013.
  33. Sex Discrimination Commissioner, correspondence, 11 October 2013.
  34. The ‘Notes’ state that for Officer (which comprise 920 of the 923 personnel noted) this will include senior officer but the figures are not limited to senior officers.
  35. Deputy Secretary, Defence People, correspondence to the Audit, 25 June 2013.
  36. Sex Discrimination Commissioner, correspondence, 11 October 2013.
  37. Australian Human Rights Commission, Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force: Phase 2 Report (2012), p 13, Table 16.
  38. Australian Human Rights Commission, Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force: Phase 2 Report (2012), p 13.
  39. Deputy Secretary, Defence People, correspondence to the Audit, 25 June 2013.
  40. Sex Discrimination Commissioner, correspondence, 11 October 2013.
  41. Deputy Secretary, Defence People, correspondence to the Audit, 25 June 2013.
  42. Deputy Secretary, Defence People, correspondence to the Audit, 25 June 2013.
  43. Sex Discrimination Commissioner, correspondence, 11 October 2013.
  44. Department of Defence, Defence Annual Report 2012-13, Chapter 6: ‘Women in the ADF’ Report, 2013, Chapter 4. At http://www.defence.gov.au/AnnualReports/12-13/default.asp (viewed 6 January 2014).
  45. Department of Defence, Defence Annual Report 2012-13, Chapter 6: ‘Women in the ADF’ Report, 2013, p 106. At http://www.defence.gov.au/AnnualReports/12-13/default.asp (viewed 6 January 2014).
  46. Department of Defence, Defence Annual Report 2012-13, Chapter 6: ‘Women in the ADF’ Report, 2013. At http://www.defence.gov.au/AnnualReports/12-13/default.asp (viewed 6 January 2014).
  47. Department of Defence, Defence Annual Report 2012-13, Chapter 6: ‘Women in the ADF’ Report, 2013, p 105. At http://www.defence.gov.au/AnnualReports/12-13/default.asp (viewed 6 January 2014).
  48. Deputy Secretary Defence People, Audit Evidence for Australian Human Rights Commission: Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force – Phase Two Report – 2012, provided to the Audit on 26 August 2013.
  49. For example, PULSE Surveys, 360 degree assessments.
  50. Chiefs of Service Committee Outcomes, Agendum 69 of 13: Framework for Gender Inclusion in the Australian Defence Force – Implementing Recommendations from the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force – Phase 2 Report, 2012, 18 October 2013, Attachment C, at [4c], provided to the Audit by ODU, 29 November 2013.
  51. For example, J Oakland and S Tanner, ‘Successful Change Management’ (2007) 18(1-2) (January–March) Total Quality Management, pp 1-19; McKinsey & Company, Women Matter: Gender Diversity, A Corporate Performance Driver (2007) p 21.
  52. Chiefs of Service Committee Outcomes, Agendum 69 of 13: Framework for Gender Inclusion in the Australian Defence Force – Implementing Recommendations from the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force – Phase 2 Report, 2012, 18 October 2013, Attachment C, at [6], provided to the Audit by ODU, 29 November 2013.
  53. This includes widening access to other Defence databases like HRMES, MARS, ComTrack.
  54. Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Navy Audit Summary Report in Response to the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force (Phase 2 Report) 2012, 30 August 2013, p 6, reference to CP 13, CP 13.4 and CP 1.
  55. Director General Navy People, Noting Brief for CN: Recommendation 4 – Broderick Review (Phase 2), Reference R15279129, August 2013.
  56. Chief of Air Force, Senior Officer Appraisal – Mandatory Performance Object, CAF Directive 01/13, 21 November 2012.
  57. Royal Australian Air Force, Audit Evidence: Recommendation 4, 2013.
  58. The Appointment to Command is provided to all COs upon taking up their role. Example provided to Audit.
  59. Director General Personnel – Air Force, Brief for CAF: Development of new Performance Appraisal System, AB14041593, June 2013.
  60. Director General Personnel – Air Force, Brief for CAF: Development of new Performance Appraisal System, AB14041593, June 2013.
  61. This is a combined figure of those who ‘slightly agree’, ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’, Air Force Safety Culture Survey 2013 – Perceptions of Negative Organisational Behaviours.
  62. This is a combined figure of those who ‘slightly agree’, ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’, Air Force Safety Culture Survey 2013 – Perceptions of Negative Organisational Behaviours.
  63. Chiefs of Service Committee Outcomes, Agendum 69 of 13: Framework for Gender Inclusion in the Australian Defence Force – Implementing Recommendations from the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force – Phase 2 Report, 2012, 18 October 2013, Attachment C at [4(c)], provided to the Audit by ODU, 29 November 2013. Paragraph 4(c) lists these as ‘changing operational context, unforseen personnel impacts and resource constraints etc’.
  64. Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Navy Audit Summary Report in Response to the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force (Phase 2 Report) 2012, 30 August 2013, pp 6-10.
  65. Primarily in response to an identified ‘lack of consistency and a tendency toward inflation’ (Directorate of Officers’ Career Management – Army, Guidance for the Completion of AE359 Performance Appraisal Report (ePAR)).
  66. Director General Personnel – Air Force, Branch Level Instruction – Air Force Group Equity Coordinator, November 2011.