Part 6: Diversity, inclusiveness, and organisational health

Response of the New Zealand Police to the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct: Final monitoring report

In this Part, we discuss the changes the Police have made to make the organisation a more diverse and safer place to work for women and people from minority groups. We discuss:

We then discuss the differences these changes have made to:

People from minority groups include ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and people who are gender diverse. Although women are not a minority group in the population, they are under-represented in the Police's workforce.

Leadership and policy

The Commissioner "leads from the top" on the value of diversity in his organisation. He has spoken of the need to celebrate differences in the Police and the unique perspectives that each staff member brings.

The Police's stated values include respect for diversity and commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and Māori. The Police's other values, such as respect and empathy, also show that they believe in treating people from all backgrounds fairly and with compassion.

In their guidance on their values, the Police use stories focused on understanding, respecting, and helping people from different backgrounds. The Code and the core competencies also emphasise the importance of treating all people with respect and dignity.

The Police set up a Women's Advisory Network (the Network) in 2014. The Network gives advice to the Police on helping women to advance in the Police. The Police have acted on the Network's advice, including introducing training senior police leaders to become aware of and address unconscious bias in promotion and in day-to-day policing work. The Network gives female staff the opportunity to talk directly to senior police leaders.

The Police consider sexual harassment, bullying, and discrimination as unacceptable behaviour. The Police treat such behaviour as serious misconduct and encourage reporting by their staff.

For the last eight years, the Police have been using an annual survey to track the organisational health of the Police. In the survey, the Police ask staff whether:

  • they have witnessed any harassment or discrimination;
  • they are confident that the Police deal well with harassment and discrimination; and
  • staff feel they can report poor behaviour without fear of reprisal.

The Police report the survey results internally and on their website.

Diversity targets and initiatives

The Police have many approaches to supporting women and people from minority groups.

The Police have set ambitious recruitment targets to improve their diversity. In April 2016, the Police set targets that, in 2020, 50% of its recruits will be female, 30% will be Māori, 12% will be Asian, and 9% will be Pasifika.

When designing their recruitment campaigns, the Police asked women and people from minority groups about police careers. The Police did this research to understand why fewer women and people from minority groups applied for police jobs.

The Police's recruitment campaigns focus strongly on women and ethnic minorities. On the Police's website New Cops, most uniformed staff pictured are women, people from minority groups, or both. The website shows diversity as strengthening the Police through staff bringing their culture and values to work. The Police value fluency in other languages, which gives multilingual applicants an advantage in the pool of suitably qualified applicants.

The Police actively promote diversity in their publications and on their social media. The Police use images of uniformed staff with diverse ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, sexualities, and gender identities in publications such as the values guidance and the Code. The Police celebrate diversity on the Police's Facebook and Instagram accounts. The Police have encouraged staff with diverse backgrounds to share their stories in the media, including a reality television series about female police officers.

The Police also encourage their staff to take part in events that celebrate their cultures and identities, and often highlight this participation on the Police's social media pages. For example, police staff can march in Pride parades in their uniforms. The Police's Facebook pages show videos of officers, including the Deputy Chief Executive for Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Services, celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and Tongan Language Week.

To achieve a more diverse workforce, the Police are encouraging more women to apply for leadership roles. The Police offer female staff career support through two development courses, mentoring, and a conference for women leading and aspiring to lead in the Police.

The Police have been responsive to the needs of minority groups. For example, the Police have opened a multi-faith prayer room in the Police College, allowed staff to display tā moko and similar cultural tattoos, and adapted uniforms for Sikh staff members.

Although our report focuses mainly on staff diversity, the Police are also working to build relationships with various diverse communities. For example, for the 2017 Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, the Police decorated a police car with Māori designs and replaced the "Police" signs with "Pirihimana". The Police had representatives at a takatāpui hui in 2016. The Police do prevention work with small business owners in Auckland, who are often vulnerable to crime. The Police also have a network of ethnic liaison officers, although their numbers are small outside Auckland.

Balancing police work and family

Police staff feel that, mostly for women, starting a family can be seen as incompatible with career progression. Our evidence suggests that some managers (male and female) have views that affect the Police's ability to retain and promote women with young families. Police staff say these views can lead to managers ruling out arrangements, such as school term-time working, or other flexible hours that are common place in most workplaces.

The Police introduced flexible working to support all police staff to work hours that fit their commitments outside of work. Flexible working offers police staff the opportunity to work part-time or regular hours rather than the long and often irregular hours that is often part of police work. Women apply for flexible working the most, usually when returning to work after maternity leave.

Although flexible working is a positive development, we have concerns about how the Police supports it.

A diverse workforce increases public trust and confidence

The Police understand why their workforce needs to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. A diverse workforce helps:

  • communities to accept the Police as a force for public good;
  • the Police to secure and keep the public's trust; and
  • police staff to carry out their duties effectively.

We looked at how the public rated the Police on service delivery and satisfaction in a 2016 citizen satisfaction survey.18 We looked at the opinions of people in minority groups and women. In our view, analysing responses from people in minority groups and women will help the Police understand whether their workforce is diverse enough to meet the needs of communities.

What the public thought about the Police in 2016

In the Police's citizen satisfaction survey, 85% of New Zealand European respondents said they were very satisfied or satisfied with the quality of service delivery. For other respondents, 80% said they were very satisfied or satisfied. For Māori respondents, 11% said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with service delivery compared with 7% of other respondents.

Overall, 81% of New Zealand European respondents had full or some trust in the Police compared with 67% of other respondents. For Māori and Pasifika respondents, 7% had not much or no confidence in the Police compared with 4% of other respondents.

Women have higher trust and confidence in the Police than men. For male respondents, 6% had not much or no trust and confidence in the Police compared with 3% of female respondents. The numbers for women are encouraging in the context of the Commission's investigation and recommendations.

For New Zealand European respondents, 79% feel strongly that the Police meet the needs of their local community. For Pasifika respondents, 81% feel the same way. For Māori respondents, 7% were only slightly more likely to feel the Police did not meet the needs of their community compared with 5% of all residents.

From the Police's analysis of the survey results, there are no differences between the responses from New Zealand European and people from minority groups and women who thought:

  • that the Police did not take their matter seriously, did not believe them, or did not care;
  • that they felt picked on or discriminated against;
  • that the Police had poor communication; or
  • that the Police did not help at all.

The survey data from the citizen satisfaction survey shows that the Police are mostly doing well. However, the difference in trust and confidence in the Police between New Zealand Europeans and other respondents means that the Police need to continue their efforts to value diversity. Although employing more women and people from minority groups will help the Police to become more diverse, all police staff have a responsibility to behave in ways that increase the trust and confidence of the public.

Changes to the gender and ethnic profile of the Police

In the Police's 2015/16 annual report, they set out the changes in the proportion of women by constabulary19 rank for each year between 2010 and 2016.

Figure 14 shows that the proportion of women in Superintendent and Inspector roles has changed significantly since 2010. Figure 14 also shows increases in the number of women in all constabulary ranks. The Police have received awards recognising their work in addressing gender imbalance in their workforce.

Figure 14
Constabulary employees, by rank and gender, between 2010 and 2016

Constabulary rankAs at 30 June 2010As at 30 June 2016
MaleFemale% FemaleMaleFemale% Female
Commissioner 1 0 0.0 1 0 0.0
Deputy Commissioner 2 0 0.0 3 0 0.0
Assistant Commissioner 4 0 0.0 5 0 0.0
Superintendent 39 3 7.1 32 7 17.9
Inspector 240 18 7.0 242 35 12.6
Senior Sergeant 385 41 9.6 420 54 11.4
Sergeant 1238 135 9.8 1273 166 11.5
Constable 5287 1312 19.9 5231 1432 21.5
Recruits 69 16 18.8 78 27 25.7
Total 7265 1525 17.3 7285 1721 19.1

Source: New Zealand Police Annual Report for 2015/2016.

Since 2013, the Police Executive Leadership Team includes a Deputy Chief Executive of Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Services. After the Police published their 2015/16 annual report, the Police appointed one female Deputy Commissioner (one of three posts) and one female Assistant Commissioner (one of seven posts). Figure 14 does not reflect these appointments. Women account for two of three remaining Deputy Chief Executive roles.

Figure 15 shows the proportion of each ethnic group in New Zealand, based on the 2013 census, and compares them with the proportion of each ethnic group working for the Police in 2010 and 2016. Figure 15 also shows that the Police are doing well in increasing the ethnic diversity of their workforce. The Police have won recognition for the quality of their work on improving ethnic diversity in the Police's workforce.

Figure 15
Changes in ethnicity of the Police's workforce, between 2010 and 2016

Ethnicity2013 census %As at 30 JuneChange since 2010 %
NZ European 69.6 72.6 70.3 ↓ -3.2
Māori 14.9 11.0 11.3 ↑ 2.7
Pasifika 7.4 4.8 5.5 ↑ 14.6
Asian 11.8 2.1 3.0 ↑ 42.9
European 6.0 16.4 14.7 ↓ -10.4
Other ethnic groups 1.2 0.5 0.6 ↑ 20.0

Source: New Zealand Police Annual Report 2015/2016.

Although the Police are doing well overall on recruiting people from minority groups, the proportion of Māori staff is not rising as quickly as other minority groups. In 2013, the Police also looked at the proportion of Māori staff compared to the local Māori population by district, to help focus their recruitment efforts. Figure 16 shows the Police's 2013 analysis of Māori staff, by police district.

We saw examples of the Police carrying out work to encourage Māori to enter police service, especially in the districts where Māori are significantly under-represented in the Police's workforce.

Between September 2016 and August 2017, 30% of Police College graduates were women. This is the second highest level achieved by the Police but is below the 50% target they have set. The proportion of Māori and Asian graduates has increased in the last three years but are also yet to reach their respective targets. In August 2017, the proportion of Pasifika graduates was up from the last year and slightly ahead of target.

Figure 16
Proportion of the population who are Māori compared with the proportion of the Police's workforce who are Māori, by police district, 2013

Source: New Zealand Police.

Overall, the Police are making good progress in becoming a more diverse organisation. However, it will be some time before they manage to meet their ambitious diversity targets.

How women and people from minority groups feel diversity and other values are upheld

In 2017, 86.6% of the Police's staff who responded to the workforce survey thought that their colleagues respected diversity. We looked at the headline response rate into the responses of women and people from minority groups (see Figure 17).

Men hold slightly more positive views than women. Asian women responded most negatively and were the only group to rate under 80%.

We also looked at the 2017 workplace survey results for harassment, discrimination, or bullying in the last 12 months. There were no major differences between ethnicities for those who had witnessed or experienced such behaviours. Most (about 82 to 86%) had not. Of those that had, Asian and Pasifika staff were more likely to say the Police had taken suitable action, followed by Māori, New Zealand Europeans, and then other Europeans.

Figure 17
Responses agreeing with the statement "Staff in my team respect staff diversity", by gender and ethnicity, 2017

NZ European 87.9 86.9
Māori 88.3 84.2
European 89.2 85.9
Pasifika 90.2 82.4
Asian 86.2 75.4
Other ethnic 81.8 100.0

Source: New Zealand Police.

There was a difference in the rates between men and women reporting they had witnessed or experienced harassment, discrimination, or bullying. Just under 16% of men and just over 20% of women had witnessed or experienced these behaviours.

Overall, the difference between men and women on the "respect and integrity" survey questions has been narrowing since 2010. The exception is the question "Staff in my team conduct themselves in accordance with the values expected by New Zealand Police". Most police staff respond positively to this statement. However, 87.7% of men respond positively compared with 80.1% of women.

Some of the biggest differences in opinion between men and women occur in the sergeant rank, with women sergeants answering more negatively on three of the "respect and integrity" questions.

In our view, the workforce survey results show that the Police's culture has moved in a positive direction, and that most people now working at the Police are respectful of diversity. Differences in opinion between men and women and between ethnic groups have either closed or are moving closer on most measures of respect and integrity. However, there is still room for improvement on some of the indicators. Sometimes, the Police do not understand well enough the reasons for differences in opinion among their staff.

The Police's prospects to do better are good. The Police's work on values is making a difference and the proportion of police staff brought up to expect equality and diversity is increasing.

The Police are increasing the number of women and people from minority groups in leadership roles. In our view, the Police's approach to promotion is far more rigorous than before. However, some staff feel the Police are promoting people for reasons other than merit and undermining those promoted in some circumstances. The Police need to keep staff confident in the fairness of their approach to promotion.

Retaining female staff

The Police are having some success in attracting female recruits. However, if the Police are to have a diverse workforce, they need to retain their female staff. Our cohort and others told us that women can find it hard to progress in their careers in the Police if they want to have children. We looked at the data the Police collect on how many police staff leave each year.

Figure 18 shows that, apart from 2009/10, a higher proportion of women in the constabulary ranks leave the Police each year compared with men. Although the differences are small, they are statistically significant.

Figure 18
Constabulary turnover rate for men and women, 2009/10 to 2015/16

Source: New Zealand Police.

The Police have introduced a flexible working arrangement, which is intended to enable staff to work the hours that suit their circumstances.

People we spoke to told us that although some managers were accommodating of requests to work flexibly, others simply refused or allowed it in a very limited way. Police staff, mostly women, could end up in roles that did not enable them to keep or enhance their careers and some chose not to return.

We did not examine how flexible working was put in place by the Police in depth, but we did find out that leadership staff are aware of problems with its implementation. As far back as 2014, the Police tried to bring in some changes but they have not had the desired effect.

Unless the Police find a way to address the retention of women, they may hit recruitment targets but still not achieve a workforce that reflects the wider population.

18: The Citizens satisfaction survey used two rating scales. For overall satisfaction they were: Very satisfied, Satisfied, Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, Dissatisfied, Very dissatisfied. The rating scale used for aspects of service was: Strongly agree, Agree, Neither agree nor disagree, Disagree, Strongly disagree. Because there is a neutral category, it should not be assumed that people hold only positive or negative views.

19: Usually in this report, we refer to all police staff. Constabulary are police staff who are "sworn" – that is, they have specific policing powers. Constabulary are often referred to as police officers and will usually be in uniform.