Even if you're not a Māori-led business, you can still do a lot to make your business more culturally inclusive. Wherever you begin, being genuine, curious, and respectful is key. If you’re ready to learn and to persevere in your journey, you’ll be set to reap the benefits of better relationships, self-awareness and understanding.
Like any journey, your starting point matters when it comes to lifting cultural awareness. The land where your business is based and operates has significance when building relationships with Māori. Mentor trainer and Māori leader, Amokura Panoho explores this further and explains why it is important. She suggests you begin by learning about your region’s history and its tangata whenua.
Small steps taken with good intention can shape the future
Te wiki o te reo Māori encourages all New Zealanders to celebrate te reo Māori and to use more Māori phrases in everyday life. Its resources are available year-round, and they offer simple ways to incorporate te reo Māori. For example, you may like to greet your team with 'Kia ora' or start your morning Zoom calls with ‘Mōrena’. If you’re going to do this, take the time to learn proper pronunciation; that shows respect and avoids appearing your efforts are superficial or token.
Celebrating te reo Māori is just one part of fostering a culturally aware and inclusive workplace. To make real progress, it’s vital to ensure your team shares an understanding of where you're headed and why. Your business's core values may be a good place to start that conversation. Together, talk about why inclusivity matters and how it aligns with your organisation’s purpose and place in the community.
Inclusive teams relate better
Fostering a sense of belonging help teams perform. Team culture can grow stronger when you empower employees to be proud of their heritage and whakapapa. Even if you don’t share Māori ancestry, deepening your understanding of one another can help individuals develop their sense of connection. People thrive when they feel accepted and have good relationships. Businesses do too because happy staff are more likely to create happy customers.
Cultural awareness strengthens leadership
Self-awareness is crucial to good leadership. So, if you're leading a business, there's a benefit in first considering your own cultural bias. If you've sought a Business Mentor, you've already recognised the importance of seeing things from a different perspective. Getting outside your own cultural frame can lead to personal growth in a similar way.
Upskilling about the Treaty and finding advisors is essential. Understanding protocol and tikanga Māori requires expert guidance. When you find people who can help, ensure you recognise the value of their contribution appropriately.
Just because a team member or client has Māori heritage doesn’t mean they should be responsible for lifting your cultural competency. Instead, listen to Māori on what they need from you.
Inclusivity should involve the whole business
Many business decisions can benefit from considering different cultural perspectives. For example, being inclusive in recruitment decisions will, in turn, create a more inclusive workplace. It’s not just numbers that matter, ensuring an equitable approach does too.
The further you go on your journey the more opportunities you’ll uncover to bring cultural considerations into your day-to-day operations. For instance, being sensitive to tikanga Māori in calendar planning may support broader engagement from your team and community.
Each step will take you closer
Creating a more culturally aware and inclusive business requires both organisational and personal growth. There’s no set formula or shortcut. It’s a journey that demands openness and courage. If you're authentic about deepening your understanding and respect for a Māori worldview, there are many benefits to be gained. A Mentor can help you think about organisational change, understand processes to measure and review your progress and keep you accountable to your goals. If you don’t yet have a guide for your business journey, apply today at www.businessmentors.org.nz.