Awakening the tokenism

File photo: Getty Images
File photo: Getty Images
Kia ora and welcome to the latest newsletter from Te Tokenism.
Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin

We all know what is important is people, people, people and we would like to reassure you that the entire marketing team (including the intern) at Te Tokenism have done a two-day Treaty of Waitangi course so we can be in the best possible position to advise you on all your questions about inclusion and diversity in the workplace. Although of course as we all know diversity and inclusion should be important outside the workplace too. These are principles for our lives.

And since time is short and we all have many pressing demands on our time, please find below our five-step guide to embracing culturally diverse and inclusive practices in the workplace.

1. Rebrand/rename.

This step is your crucial first step for maximum inclusion and diversity. Choose a word in te Reo that people will know how to pronounce easily and also one that has some metaphorical meaning that you can attach to it. We feel that te Reo has lots of metaphorical meanings. It’s important to ask Maori for their input into this. Jase from accounts has been very helpful in our case here at Te Tokenism. We go to him every time we’re not sure about the nuances of what we might do or say. Shout out to Jase.

It's so nice to have the option to use the word "T" before the word as well because it’s much snappier than "The" and research shows that international visitors respond really well to indigenous experiences so that’s something you should bear in mind if you’re culturally or financially or otherwise interested in the foreign market.

If you’re going to upset shareholders or other significant people by rebranding the whole organisation, perhaps consider a partial rebrand instead. Perhaps there are smaller buildings or other parts of your internal company structure that could be renamed without rocking the boat.

2. Update your letterheads.

Super important. Otherwise how will people know what you stand for?

3. Introduce respectful cultural practices into the everyday running of your organisation.

Here’s an example of how we did this at Te Tokenism. We challenged each department to have a one-off mihimihi at their staff meeting this quarter. Kind of like a cute team-building exercise. In a mihimihi everyone says their mihi and when surveyed, 68% of company staff who responded indicated that they felt relieved and happy to have connected meaningfully in this way. We also ask Jase to bless the kai every time we have a morning tea.

4. Write policies.

Arguably this should be Step 1 in the process but the thing is, sometimes you don’t know what diversity and inclusion look like until you see them in action. It’s really important to be thorough because meaningful change takes time and I think we can all agree that we want to be part of the solution here. Contact us at Te Tokenism if you want our help in crafting your own bespoke policies from our range of templates, or look back over our five-step guide to creating meaningful policies from June 1993.

5. Post about it on social media.

Again this step is super important and it’s something that people sometimes overlook. But don’t be shy! Posting on social media about your diversity and inclusion are a way to indicate your inclusive and diverse policies and practices that you’ve been practising, to the widest possible audience. And that way you inspire people. It’s a good thing to have images in your posts and it’s a great thing to make sure that the people in the images look really Maori. Make sure also to spell your Reo words correctly in your posts but don’t worry too much about macrons because everyone understands that it’s difficult to learn those keyboard workarounds or change the language settings. Life’s busy enough. You’re doing what you can. And that, as we know well at Te Tokenism, is how change really starts. From within.

Nga mihi nui, The Te Tokenism Team

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter