Commentary: Public Sector Representativeness, Inclusion, and Beyond

Date01 March 2015
Published date01 March 2015
Meryl R. Kaynard is general counsel
and special counsel for labor/management
relations at Queens College, City University
of New York. She previously served as
head employment and benef‌i ts counsel at
JPMorgan Chase Bank and as director of
diversity at a Fortune 500 law f‌i rm in New
York City. In all of these capacities, she has
championed and led successful diversity
Public Sector Representativeness, Inclusion, and Beyond 289
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 75, Iss. 2, pp. 289–290. © 2015 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12344.
e authors suggest that the theory that “representa-
tive public service organizations are more likely to pro-
duce improved policy outcomes for citizens in general”
(emphasis added) has already been tested.  erefore,
they focus instead on the impact of representative-
ness within public organizations. To the extent the
study does so (f‌i nding that “representativeness” results
in greater perceptions of employee inclusion) and stops
there, it essentially serves as an employee satisfac-
tion analysis (i.e., “ e 100 Most Inclusive Places to
Work”). Research more f‌i rmly establishing superior
government services as the outcome would provide
a more persuasive reason for employers and public
agencies to strive for representation and inclusion.
Compare, for example, the Catalyst study of Fortune
500 companies in the private sector.1 In that study,
Catalyst found that the representation of women
board directors correlated with measurable strong
f‌i nancial performance of Fortune 500 companies
(demonstrated by return on sales, return on invested
capital, and return on equity for at least three years).
e study found that companies with sustained high
representation of women board directors signif‌i cantly
outperformed those with sustained low representation.
It may be that “the bottom line” is easier to measure
in the shareholder value of the private sector (and a
“business case” is easier to establish). However, the
authors should consider further research that would
allow them to articulate why “employee satisfaction
translates into better results in the public sector, or
how a “better result” is to be measured vis-a-vis the
communities these public organizations serve. Such a
study might utilize survey questions that relate to the
impact that “inclusion” or job satisfaction has on the
work of the organization. For instance, the 2013 ver-
sion of the Civil Service People Survey included two
questions as follows: “My organisation inspires me to
do the best in my job” and “My organisation moti-
vates me to help it achieve its objectives.”
Other relevant key issues worth further attention
include consideration of whether the distribution
“Representation and Inclusion in Public Organi-
zations: Evidence from the U.K. Civil Service” by
Rhys Andrews and Rachel Ashworth seeks to answer
the following question: whether having the gender
and minority ethnic composition of the workforce in
public sector organizations mirror the population it
serves (“representativeness”) inf‌l uences the levels of
inclusion, discrimination, and bullying experienced by
employees within these organizations.
Based on a survey of available literature and a statisti-
cal analysis of empirical data drawn from the U.K.
Civil Service People Survey, the authors conclude that
gender and minority ethnic representativeness posi-
tively relates to higher perceptions of inclusion and
to lower levels of personal experience with discrimina-
tion and bullying at work.
Ef‌f orts to quantify the importance and impact of
diversity-related practices in the workplace are to be
applauded because without empirical evidence, it
is dif‌f‌i cult to make the “business case” that is often
an imperative for sustained commitment to such
ef‌f orts. Having championed diversity programs in
both the private and public sectors, it is evident to me
that until such programs are hardwired into busi-
ness practices to achieve certain organizational ends,
changes in economy, management, and priorities may
result in reevaluations of (and reduced commitment
to) diversity-related initiatives. In the face of ever-
evolving priorities, absent a clearly articulated and
substantiated rationale, diversity can suf‌f er.
at said, a study such as this, relying on perceptions
rather than objective measures, presents its own chal-
lenges. For instance, there is no factual basis to support
the alleged extent to which discrimination and/or bul-
lying actually occurred.  e authors simply explore the
employees’ “sense” of inclusion and self-reported “expe-
riences” with discrimination or bullying.  e strength
of their argument is also somewhat limited by the fact
that the authors can only point to a correlation between
“representativeness” and their f‌i ndings, not causation.
Public Sector Representativeness, Inclusion, and Beyond
Meryl R. Kaynard
Queens College, City University of New York

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