ISSUE 6 | 2012
The Australian Government Department of Defence Magazine Cover
Cover Story

Heading in the right direction

By Alisha Welch

Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture is a strategy to ensure Defence has a culture that delivers success in major strategic reforms and addresses the recommendations from the recent reviews into aspects of Defence's culture and performance. Playing a major role in driving the strategy on behalf of the Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force is Defence People Group. Head People Capability Major General Gerard Fogarty spoke to Defence about the importance of achieving meaningful, long-term change.

Pathway to Change is a key Defence priority, second only to supporting people on operations. It applies to all Defence people, military and civilian, and at its centre is a statement of cultural intent which commits Defence to being its best so that, as an organisation, in the eyes of Government and the nation, we are 'trusted to defend, proven to deliver and respectful always'.

Head People Capability within Defence People Group, Major General Gerard Fogarty, is leading the implementation of the strategy and says that, without an integrated program like Pathway to Change, Defence's leaders know they won?t be able to deliver the enduring change required.

"As an organisation, we know we need the ongoing respect of the nation if we are to be successful," Major General Fogarty says.

"Our people, whether they wear a uniform or not, are rightly held to a much higher standard and greater scrutiny than the majority of people in society. We have to live up to that expectation. The professionalism our people display on operations needs to be replicated across the organisation in everything we do."

Major General Fogarty says that, to achieve this, more emphasis needs to be placed on personal accountability and people must be respectful to everyone around them.

"This requires us to create a work environment that promotes openness and candor," he says. "Defence has to close the gap in terms of our inclusiveness as an organisation."

The first priority is broadening diversity across the workforce and increasing the number of women in Defence and, specifically, in senior appointments.

Major General Fogarty says this is the first priority because many of the reviews into Defence's culture indicate that sometimes women in Defence are treated unfairly and don?t have the same opportunities as men.

Breaking down these gender barriers is happening already. In April last year, the Government announced that it would remove the restrictions on the remaining seven per cent of ADF employment categories not open to women. Defence developed an implementation plan, to which Government agreed earlier this year. Major General Fogarty is responsible to the Chief of the Defence Force for its implementation.

"The principle of removing gender restrictions on all ADF jobs aligns entirely with what we are trying to achieve with the Pathway to Change strategy," he says. "The ability to do the work will drive your opportunities in the ADF ? it has nothing to do with gender. If Defence is to truly become a fair and inclusive organisation, then we must remove those barriers.

"In addition, with only 13.8 per cent of ADF personnel women, Defence is not making best use of the available talent in the labour market."

Major General Fogarty says it's a matter of capability, too.

"With more women in the ADF, and more women in combat roles, we will have a far more capable military force," he says. "For example, women serving in combat will make a positive contribution to the modern battlefield, accessing and interacting with local communities and cultures that may otherwise be closed to us if we only employ men. More generally, diversity improves decision making in teams."

In early 2013, serving ADF women will be able to transfer into roles that were once restricted while Defence continues to work through policy adjustments, mainly around Physical Employment Standards. Once the policy adjustments are in place, women will be able to enter those trades upon enlistment.

Work is also under way in improving opportunities for female Defence public servants as a result of the Review of Employment Pathways for APS Women in the Department of Defence. A rotation program for women at the Senior Executive Service level with the broader Public Service is being implemented, while work is progressing on a development program for Executive Level women, which includes job rotation.

"We didn't start with a clean sheet of paper in relation to Pathway to Change," Major General Fogarty explains, "as there has been wonderful culture change work being done for some time in the Groups and Services. Pathway to Change is about filling in the gaps, building on and integrating the programs under way.

"Right now, throughout the Defence workforce, Band 2 and 2 Star officers are having discussions with their people about what Pathway to Change means for individuals and leaders. It is intended to be a cascading discussion that focuses on behavioural expectations and accountabilities."

Major General Fogarty emphasises that Pathway to Change is not a simple journey and says it will be at least five years before tangible change is evident.

"What we are doing now is focusing on the key aspects of the strategy and helping people understand why there is a need for change, and what behaviours should be modelled by our leaders.

"The main challenge is ensuring that the conversation spreads across the country and turns into visible change. Talking about having fair and inclusive workplaces is one thing, but actually making it a reality is totally different. Leaders are being held to account ? they have been directed to lead these conversations and are being asked about the outcome. Members of the Defence Committee are interviewing key accountable Band 2 and 2 Star officers about how implementation of the review recommendations is progressing, and ensuring that where policies need to be amended, it is happening."

He says it is a big challenge because it takes time to amend policies in Defence. However, while the leadership accepts that tangible change will take time, they hope the behaviours discussed during Pathway to Change conversations across the country will start to become practice ahead of policy.

"You can have conversations about cultural change, people can start modelling the right behaviours and talking about what they expect from each other, but if you don't change the infrastructure around which real things can change ? like policies and support processes - then nothing really changes."

A Pathway to Change Cultural Framework has been developed outlining six key levers for cultural change and reinforcement.