Māori inclusion and HR: Kiwi leaders must do more to raise cultural awareness

There's an increased expectation for all Kiwi businesses to have a greater level of knowledge around Māori culture

Māori inclusion and HR: Kiwi leaders must do more to raise cultural awareness

A report released by the reserve bank last year states that the Māori economy held $69 billion in assets last year. Furthermore, New Zealand’s GDP increased 20%, but the growth within the Māori business sector was almost double that at 37% - making the Māori economy a force to be reckoned with in New Zealand’s business landscape.

During Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori language week) last week, the Labour government announced a target of 1,000,000 basic te reo speakers and 150,000 proficient te reo speakers in Aotearoa by the year 2040. While you may be able to drop a ‘hui’ (meeting) or ‘mahi’ (work) into your everyday workplace conversations, or a ngā mihi as your email signoff, there is the growing sense that there will be increased expectation for all New Zealand businesses to have a greater level of awareness around Māori language and customs, but one kiwi business has been leading the way and doing the hard mahi (work) already.

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Information technology and communication systems provider, Fujitsu Aotearoa New Zealand last week became the first service provider in the country to offer customers the option to choose New Zealand’s official indigenous language as their choice of language within the ServiceNow platform which is used by some of Aotearoa’s largest government and private sector companies.

Fujitsu worked closely with tech-centric translation company, Straker Translations to develop the solution. “Language is such an important part of inclusivity and respect for culture,” said Grant Straker, CEO of Straker Translations. “We are extremely pleased to have worked with Fujitsu on this project and its long-term plan to support Māori and Pacific New Zealander culture.”

In addition to choosing te reo as their preferred language users can integrate third-party translation services such as Google or Microsoft through an app called Translator Bot that offers dynamic translation for chats, virtual agents, notifications, and knowledge-based articles meaning teams will be able to collaborate regardless of their preferred language.

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The initiative is just one part of the company’s commitment to Māori and Pacific peoples. Recently, Fujitsu released a comprehensive five-year Māori and Pacific Peoples Inclusion Plan. “Fujitsu recognises and celebrates the significant contributions Māori and Pacific communities make towards the rich tapestry of Aotearoa’s culture and economy. We want our business to reflect the foundations cemented in the partnership of Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” said Nicole Forrester, VP – Purpose and Culture at Fujitsu Aotearoa New Zealand.

The five-year plan built on Fujitsu’s core values of aspiration (wawata), trust (tiakitanga), and empathy (aroha) aims to implement initiatives to assist the employment and other opportunities of Māori and Pacific peoples.

“Māori People make up 17.1% of the national population in Aotearoa New Zealand, however, they have been underrepresented in the technology industry. We want our business to represent Aotearoa New Zealand as a whole,” said Forrester.

Other initiatives outlined in the plan are to increase the company’s use of Iwi/Hapu, Māori, and Pacific owned businesses in its supply chains and the delivery of services and develop partnerships with Iwi and Hapu of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“This plan expresses our commitment to creating real cultural change in our organisation, where we can deepen our understanding of Māori and Pacific cultures within our business and value chain, said CEO, Graeme Beardsell.”

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