The state of gender equality in Victoria Police
Since 2015, we have been transparent in confronting our past mistakes and in reforming the elements of our practice and culture that allowed these to occur. Through an extensive program of work across the organisation3, we have begun to transform into a modern policing organisation that is disrupting a deeply entrenched culture of discrimination and high tolerance for gendered harm4.
In setting the foundations for the achievement of sustainable gender equality by 2030, this action plan prioritises building the capability of our leaders to create safe, respectful and inclusive workplaces, and strengthening our response to gendered workplace harm.
These two areas of focus emerged as our most pressing issues in our analysis of the current state of gender equality at Victoria Police.
Our data continues to reveal the impact of gendered stereotypes in our organisation. In particular, we are concerned that:
- women continue to experience gendered workplace harm but the overwhelming majority do not feel safe to report (see Figure 2 and 3)5
- men are over represented in police leadership positions and opportunities for career advancement (see Figure 4)6
- only a quarter of our workforce consider that our organisation makes fair recruitment and promotion decisions based on merit (see Figure 5)7
- there is a significant over-representation of women in lower ranks in flexible and part-time work, with only 42 percent of all employees who believe there is a positive culture within Victoria Police in relation to employees who use flexible work arrangements (see Figure 6)8.
Figure 2: Prevalence of sexual harassment
Figure 3: Reporting of sexual harassment
Figure 4: Workforce composition by gender
Current workforce gender percentage by role
|Role||% Male||% Female|
Figure 5: Employee attitudes towards promotion decisions
Figure 6: Workforce gender composition as compared to flexible work arrangements by gender
Signs of progress
While this data demonstrates that gender inequality persists in our organisation, signs of positive change are emerging:
- In the twelve months to June 2021, the proportion of women police officers successfully securing promotion reached levels closer to the workforce gender composition than in previous years9
- The majority of employees agree that Victoria Police’s commitment to gender equality reform has improved in the last year10
- Sixty-five per cent agree that their manager is active in driving gender equality initiatives in the workplace11.
The benefits of gender equality
There is clear evidence to demonstrate that achieving sustainable gender equality will benefit our people, our organisation and our community.12
Reduced gendered workplace harm
By creating gender equal workplaces, we will disrupt the enabling environment which allows gendered workplace harm to occur. Removing gendered stereotypes, which confine our people to perform according to outdated and narrow understandings of policing, will result in a safer workplace for all genders.
More capable and modern police force
Evidence shows that diverse and inclusive teams are more productive and innovative13. By removing gendered barriers to career advancement, we ensure that we have access to the full talent pool and build a workforce that reflects the capabilities and values of a modern policing organisation.
Enhanced service to the community
Gendered violence, including family violence and sexual offending, is a major threat to community safety and Victoria Police is on the frontline. Achieving gender equality will strengthen community trust that we are a safe organisation to report gendered violence to and that perpetrators will be held to account.
What will Victoria Police look like in 2024
By 2024 our organisation will have strengthened capabilities in achieving gender equality outcomes and responding to gendered workplace harm. In a large, complex law enforcement agency like Victoria Police, building capability requires both centralised and local levers that enhance skills, knowledge and attitudes. In 2024:
- We will have harnessed innovation in our policies, systems and structures that influence and support gender equality.
- Our leaders will feel empowered in their response to gendered workplace harm.
- Workplace behaviours will have begun to reflect a strengthened culture through an increased understanding of the benefits of gender equality.
- Our employees will demonstrate a stronger understanding of how gender equality in our organisation will enhance our response to gendered violence in the community.
Strengthening our approach using an intersectional lens
Gender inequality can be compounded by other forms of discrimination and disadvantage. Intersectionality acknowledges that a person's characteristics are not mutually exclusive, but rather build upon one another leading to layers of discrimination and workplace harm. Victoria Police recognises that gendered workplace harm is often exacerbated by other systemic barriers, limiting the ability of our people to bring their whole selves to work.
The action plan also complements organisational diversity and inclusion strategies and actions plans for:
- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer employees
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees
- culturally and linguistically diverse employees
- employees with disability.
3 For a detailed summary of the progress we have made since 2015, refer to Equal, Safe & Strong Victoria Police Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2030, 8-9.
4 Victorian Equal Opportunity Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) (2019) Independent Review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including predatory behaviour in Victoria Police. Phase 3 audit and review, Victorian Equal Opportunity Human Rights Commission, Melbourne, Australia.
5 People Matter Survey – Victoria Police (2021)
6 Victoria Police (2021) Workplace Gender Audit
7 People Matter Survey – Victoria Police (2021)
8 People Matter Survey – Victoria Police (2021)
9 Victoria Police (2021) Workplace Gender Audit
10 People Matter Survey – Victoria Police (2021)
11 People Matter Survey- Victoria Police (2021)
12 Victorian Equal Opportunity Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) (2019) Independent Review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including predatory behaviour in Victoria Police. Phase 3 audit and review, Victorian Equal Opportunity Human Rights Commission, Melbourne, Australia.
13 Saxena, A. (2014) Workforce diversity: A key to improve productivity. Procedia Economics and Finance, 11(1), 76-85.
Reviewed 05 September 2022