Pasifika large design

Published research: Pacific Networks in the NZ Public Service

The role of Pacific staff networks in progressing gender and intersectional equity in the NZ Public Service

4 months ago by , The ELN Team

Published by Sage Journals this study examined Pacific networks in three NZ public service agencies, focusing on their goals and approach to influencing change and progressing equity. 72 semi-structured interviews with sector experts, agency managers and staff were conducted throughout 2020 and early 2021. Below are some highlghts from the published article.

Despite facing challenges due to the global pandemic and the subsequent economic environment networks have taken on multiple roles and functions, from providing a safe space for members, to communicating with one voice in order to amplify their message and interests.

  • Pacific networks in these agencies are comparatively youthful but have already embraced multiple roles and functions, providing Pasifika with a social forum; a sense of belonging in the agency; a collective, safe place for airing concerns and ideas; a conduit for communicating their voices and interests to the agency ‘mainstream’; an organisational change agent; an information repository about Pasifika for managers, HR and teams; and the embodiment of Pasifika cultural values and modus operandi.
  • These nascent networks are still developing their role, functions and sense of self... To date, these have reflected ‘short’ ambitions in Cockburn’s (1989) terms, pertaining to equal access issues within existing institutional arrangements (e.g. around Pasifika in leadership roles) rather than a focus on structurally- and culturally-related change in their agencies.
  • Little attention has been given so far to the specific equity interests of Pacific women (an intersectional ‘category’) though there are signs that gender equity is increasingly of concern in terms of how the networks function.
  • Potentially, however, informants emphasised that the networks may extend their concern with Pasifika’s equity progress in the organisational mainstream. They also pointed to broad areas that could inform future Pasifika network roles, including greater engagement with ‘longer’ equity ambitions by emphasising cultural specificities and related ways of working for Pacific women and men workers opportunities, strategies and initiatives to enable this progress and greater network resource capacity were also suggested, including gathering more information with which to inform Pasifika perspectives on organisational matters; ensuring greater equity and inclusion for Pasifika within networks and their agency; collaborating with other identity-based (women’s) networks and individual position-holders in their agency and externally; seeking more strategic engagement with their agency mainstream; encouraging greater active support from leaders; seeking greater leadership diversity; and developing their own constitution, structure and aims.
  • Experiences [of these networks] emphasise the need for tailored, context-sensitive initiatives within and across organisations rather than a wholesale transfer of ‘best practice’ from one agency network to another.

Ready to join a network?

Find a network