How can we encourage Maori and Pacific Islanders to work in IT?
Creating meaningful employment opportunities for everyone is a top priority for New Zealand.
While there has been much discussion around the representation of women in IT recently, the number of Maori and Pacific Island professionals is another area that the country should address.
To find out why and how we should bring these groups into IT, we sat down with Adam Roi, one of our own team members. He has been recruiting in the technology sector for around seven years, predominantly in the software development life cycle sector and application development.
Lack of encouragement prevalent from a young age
According to the many conversations he has had with other IT industry professionals, Mr Roi believes that the issue starts early on at a grassroots level.
“A lot of Maori and Pacific Island students don’t consider IT when it comes to choosing their career,” he explained.
“For the most part, that also means they end up pursuing higher education outside of that particular field of expertise as the social perception is that fields such as finance are more respectable.”
Another important factor that Mr Roi pointed out was family influence and the generational cycle within these units.
“Based on my observations as Maori and a Pacific Islander, IT isn’t particularly encouraged amongst families and it will very rarely come up in conversation around the dinner table.”
What can Maori and Pacific Island professionals bring to the industry?
Activity encouraging Maori and Pacific Islanders into the industry can change a workplace environment for the better. Mr Roi highlighted two major areas where these groups could bring in a fresh approach.
“Maori and Pacific Island culture brings a sense of rapport and familial bonding to the workplace. In business terms, this translates to collaboration, as Maori and Pacific Islanders are particularly good at bringing people together from silos to work on projects,” he said.
“Another important aspect is creative and critical thinking. Maori and Pacific Islanders are typically out-of-the-box thinkers, because they are used to living in an environment which challenges a prescriptive mindset. In the business world, this brings massive value to any organisation”
How can organisations help encourage and support Maori and Pacific Islanders?
According to Mr Roi, building a diverse IT industry will require more involvement from the education sector, especially in disadvantaged communities.
“I think that schools need to encourage kids from any race to consider entering into IT, despite pre-existing conceptions,” he said.
“More work also needs to be done in lower decile communities. In these areas, there is an absence of technology and many children can’t develop the technological literacy needed for future roles. A program to help these communities would help a lot, even if this means just getting a laptop into a child’s hands.”
Mr Roi stated that industry representatives also have a role to play, especially those in IT recruitment.
“Maori and Pacific Island thought leaders in the industry should talk to the community about their experience and possible pathways for others. Sparking a dialogue can help individuals in the local community find their own way into IT roles.”
Encouraging discussion in your workplace is a good step to help address these issues. Getting in touch with the community early on can help secure a more diverse future workforce.Tags: Diversity in the Technology Sector