Quotas in Treasury

Adam Creighton has an interesting article which cogently argues against quotas. Let’s take one example: Treasury has an objective for 35 per cent of its senior executives to be women by 2016. According to the 2011-12 annual report, there were 80 senior executives (including the secretary) of which 21 were women (26.25 per cent) and 59 were men. If Treasury keeps the same number of senior executives (and there are far too many), that would mean the number of female senior executives should increase to 28 and the number of males fall to 52 by 2016. Alternatively, if the number of senior executives is reduced to 60, then the 21 females would be exactly 35 per cent of the total – that would be to reduce the number of male senior executives by 20 which is a 1/3 cut in their numbers.

Being generous and allowing 4 years to reach the target (rather than 3 years from 2013-2016), and assuming around 5 per cent of senior executive positions change each year (ie: 4), Treasury would need to appoint 3 out of the 4 vacancies in each of the four years to women to take the numbers to 35 per cent (there would be 28.8 women and 51.2 men for a total of 80).

That means a drought for male promotions to the senior executive for quite a number of years.

Alternatively, the secretary could just select the 20 worst performing male SES officers and sack them to take the total number to 60 and therefore the 21 females being 35 per cent of the total.

In any case, it does point to the rather arbitrary nature of quotas.

Alternatively, Treasury could offer subsidies for sex change operations.


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33 Responses to Quotas in Treasury

  1. Johno

    Commonwealth Treasury’s performance is so bad at the moment that arbitrarily sacking it’s SES are replacing them with random selection, with or without a quota, could arguably be the best way of improving their advise to government.

    Sacking the government and appointing a competent Treasurerwould be another measure that would lift Treasury’s performance.

  2. Mark

    Firstly that is sexist. It is also discriminatory to my penis. And I feel offended. Also belittled. And sad. Can I sue?

  3. Rabz

    Public service appointments, especially at SES level, are meant to be on merit.

    What a joke.

  4. paul

    The message is clear. Best practice management of the Peoples’ assets are of less importance than shows of political compliance. Maybe they know they don’t really control “our” asset.

  5. Rousie

    Or they could fund sex changes

  6. Token

    Wow, is a cabal of mediocre people combining to demand special treatment to help them overcome their lack of talent and willingess to spend a lifetime to achieve an objective?

  7. Rousie

    Should have read that last line

    Are men able to ‘identify’ as women yet in lefty land?

  8. .

    My sis, as a newly employed pube, once rambled at me for 15 mins about how APS appointments are on merit.

    Poor gal. I suppose she’ll be again promoted soon, save for she’s woken up to most of the bullshit.

    Amazingly, Rudd and Gillard are what snapped her out of her ALP loving, Australia hating ways.

    Rudd was a psychotic boss and she considers Gillard to be an undeserving joke and to have sent the cause of women’s rights back about 30 years. If she can pay her mortgage, why is Swan unable to pay back the deficit, etc?

    Trust me. This nonsense can only go on for so long. The ALP are destroying their primary vote base.

    The kids based electoral strategy (that’s right, if you voted for Rudd and you’re under 30, you were a dumb, gullible kid) of 2007 is now reaping negative returns.

  9. Des Deskperson

    At 30 June 2012, 40.1% of the SES were women, compared with 30.2% at 30 June 2003, so they seem to be doing very well without quotas!

    Incidentally, the overall size of the SES has increased by 66.7% over the same period. There’s a general concensus in the APS that the SES has been very considerably dumbed down, although I’ve no idea if this relates in anyway to the changing gender ratios.

  10. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    If these stupid people spent more time on their bloated salaries doing work instead of business-classing, five star conferencing, meeting and important-position-papering to each other about “girls versus boys” they might give themselves half a chance of getting their Treasury predictions, measures and advice right.

    This is one of the reasons I am so disparaging of the 30% odd of the workforce which shuffles about nice office buildings for no particular purpose, charging themselves out to taxpayers. Otherwise unemployable lazy sloths who get paid week in week out whether they have done a good day’s work or nothing at all.

  11. dd

    Treasury would need to appoint 3 out of the 4 vacancies in each of the four years to women to take the numbers to 35 per cent

    bingo. Even modest quotas require extreme actions to meet them.
    A quota – if you must have one – should be for the hiring process, not for the total number of positions.

  12. .

    There is literally no justification for quotas.

    They are an insult to disadvantaged groups.

    “We don’t think you can ever succeed on your own merit”

    It lowers standards and expectations, and ends the careers of the deserving.

  13. Token

    As the government continues its policies to actively encourage people to illegally import middle class people from South & Central Asia, the ethnic composition of Australia is changing.

    How long before quotas are placed upon the APS to get it to reflect the ethnic composition of the nation?

  14. This reminds me of Yes Minister.In Equal Opportunities there is this dialogue:
    Hacker: How many women assistant pemanent secretaries are there?
    Appleby: Approximately 4
    Hacker: Why approximately?
    Bernard: There are a lot of old women among the men

  15. amcoz

    ’80 senior executives’; WTF do they all do?

    As for fem-quotas, it will only be a matter of time when it is a mal-quota.

  16. linecall

    Given that ‘gender’ is nowadays seen as an ‘identity’, rather than a chromosomal arrangement; and an ‘identity’ to be chosen freely by us all, perhaps 20 of the XY Treasury bods could turn up to work on Monday, each having a quick word with HR to ‘update their personal details’ by ticking the ‘female’ box, rather than the ‘male’ box. Then hey presto, ‘misogynist gender equity injustices’ vanish in a trice.

    Or if they wanted to turn Treasury into Gender Diversity Land On Steroids, some of these new XY birds could say they now identify as ‘transgender womyn’ or ‘transgender non-specific’. Documentary teams from Sweden would invade, returning in tears at the tragedy of Julian Assange being out of Australia during this gender equity revolution. If only he’d joined the Australian public service, he would not have turned out to be the misogynist toilet seat leaver upper that he is.

  17. Gab

    Quotas of women…sounds like herding cattle.

  18. Econocrat

    I really think they are going to have trouble finding enough incompetent, sociopathic women to fill all the SES roles.

    They may get desperate and appoint successful, competent, private sector women.

  19. Luke

    Dot. Same thing happened to me working for a Labor government. I used to be a Statist. Seeing first hand just how bad governments are at doing things (and how full of progressive hypocrites government is) I changed my mind.

    But you forget that for each dumb kid who voted for Rudd that has grown up, there is another freshly minted naive Labor voted turning 18. Freshly minted by our education system and ABC.

  20. Skuter

    If we redefined all the beta-males as female, we’d have no problem…no need for a sex change. A lot of them are already half way there…

  21. Tapdog

    In lefty land, promotion on merit is ‘elitist’. Discussion ends.

  22. Tel

    I would expect the Treasury could just make a projection that they will meet their quota at some future date, and just borrow from China for the short term. Transexuals can be kept “off budget” so don’t bother counting them.

  23. mareeS

    The teaching game pioneered 50/50 female/male quotas for senior positions in the 1970s. That stopped male promotion opportunities dead, and resulted in teaching becoming an overwhelmingly female (and devalued) occupation today. What’s the entry score for a Bachelor of Education degree, 60 or thereabouts?

    I’m not in the teaching system, merely a consumer as a parent who sees female quotas as having unintended consequences in terms of the standard of services delivered.

    In my personal working life, a workplace with a majority or critical mass of women is a place to be avoided, as they’re almost always dysfunctional. Maybe that’s why the public sector is the way it is, ie focussed on internal stuff rather than service delivery.

    In my experience, it’s less complicated working with men.

  24. I am the Walrus, koo koo k'choo

    Years ago, when I was a Treasury grad, a couple of other grads got into a lift with a rather masculine looking female employee. In the polite conversation that followed, she told them that she would soon be going to Melbourne for some minor surgery. The two managed to stifle their chuckling until they got out, whereupon they laughed about the idea of describing the process of having your old feller lopped off as ‘minor surgery’.

  25. Abu Chowdah

    Har har. Champagne comedy.

  26. Luke

    mareeS “In my personal working life, a workplace with a majority or critical mass of women is a place to be avoided, as they’re almost always dysfunctional.”

    I agree and I’ve heard the same from many women. In my experience it’s most women’s obession with consensus/agreement in a group. Which is touted as why women work better. The problem is when they don’t get agreement/concensus. They can’t just accept someone disagreeing with them. They have to then destroy that person, as if disagreement is some kind of attack on who they are as a person or something.

    It means more men avoiding working with women (and women avoiding working with other women) because noone needs the extra stress of having someone out to get you everytime you can’t agree with them on something. Either that of people give in and agree on things they really shouldn’t, like rubbish policies.

  27. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Dot. Same thing happened to me working for a Labor government. I used to be a Statist. Seeing first hand just how bad governments are at doing things (and how full of progressive hypocrites government is) I changed my mind.

    Another triumph of experience over ideology. Well done, Luke.

    On women and consensus seeking:

    Tried to write a sensible academic response here, but can’t. Nothing works. I just keep coming back to Mars and Venus, which underwrites the lot, even here on earth.

    We’re different. Da Hairy Ape says I can’t accept rational disagreement (from him). I say he just doesn’t understand how I feel and that I am quite rational thank you. In a viable marriage, as in the workplace, accommodations are made so that each respects the other.

    I think these things between men and women transfer to the workplace (how could they not?). He gets away with it by lashings of Irish charm and a blithe certainty in his own rightness. He’d never find himself having a teary time hiding in the toilet on occasions at work, as I did, stoking up for the next managerial battle. Perhaps women go for consensus because we like to be liked and we can certainly get piqued if we are not liked (but sensible women don’t try to cut people up for this). Men worry much less about being liked, but can be tremendously emotionally and directionally block-headed at times, to the point of embarassment (as with a certain singing Labor politician).

    Generalisations however are always dangerous. I’d just say that given our disparities and the differential advantages and disadvantages accruing to the socio-emotional life and capabilities of both genders, and within individual characters regardless of gender, surely it is better never to quota by gender, but merely let the best of both arise to the leadership surface via an unbiased selection process? Settle on those who can do an effective, careful and innovative job.

  28. Tiddly Pom

    Yes, of course, hiring quotas are a nonsense, gender or otherwise based.

    The thing is, though, with most public services, the notion of promotion on merit has been openly disregarded in practice for yonks. Promotion is mostly about who you know, and not rocking the boat (by, say, raising silly questions about evidence in regard stupid policy proposals). Increasingly this includes perceived political sympathies.

    The grapevine always needs to be consulted in considering whether to apply for any advertised (internally or externally; comparatively few are advertised externally anyway since this risks applications from highly qualified people other than the favoured candidate, whom it would be hard to ignore) vacancy. It will tell you whether the position is really available, or whether the appointee is already confirmed through the mateship criterion, and advertising is only for show, to pretend compliance with the merit principle.

    In my experience, around half of alleged of vacancies are already done and dusted. Don’t waste effort applying.

    Whether gender quotas significantly further fuck up this already fucked up promotion system is moot. There is a respectable argument to be made that it might actually make the selection process more open, not less, in these circumstances.

    Incidentally, I think most if not all SES positions are 5 year contracts these days, so in theory (but as above almost certainly not in practice) it is more like a 20% turnover each year, not 5%.

  29. Samuel J

    Tiddly Pom – I think most SES positions are ongoing. From my observations, 5% turnover is about right for SES positions (it is somewhat higher for lower levels and also when the economy is booming). Last I checked, only about 3% of SES positions were on 5 year contracts.

  30. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Tiddly Pom – universities (one of the places where I have worked) are similar to the PS in their ‘strict selection criteria’ and in contrast, their understood and definitely unstated preferred candidates, for whom the criteria seem often to have been specially written (Cher Prof Bunyip is scathingly good at satirising this process at the Parkville Asylum). I always felt sorry for those who were applying for a job just to be canon fodder for the process and was at times a maverick on selection committees because of this – didn’t toe the line. I fell for that sort of hopeless application myself only once, and vowed never to ever let myself get into that situation again.

    In contrast, in the corporate world some years ago now I was merely interviewed (on personal recommendation from my previous boss) by a departmental head in a coffee shop and hired on the spot – a good professional writing job too. Now that is real flexibility and no bulldust either with no-one else’s time wasted. I didn’t have any qualifications whatsoever except a bit of experience, a lot of hide, energy and perhaps some talent.

  31. Des Deskperson

    Just to be pedantic, ‘non-ongoing’ SES employees are engaged under similar arrangements to other non ongoing APS employees – far a specific term or a specific task which can be up to five years or less than 12 months.

    In June 2012 there werer 86 non-ongoing SES out or a total of 2873, just under 3% by my calculations.

  32. Des Deskperson

    And SES turnover rate in 2011-12 – which I have taken to mean separtions as a percentage of overall numbers on 30 June 2012 – was around 7%.

  33. Tiddly Pom

    SamuelJ/Des D: Yeah OK, sorry, I’m sure you’re right.

    I was making assumptions from a State public service. I am astounded actually to learn that SA has a less fossilised public service – or an anything really – than other places.

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