Marsh McLennan New Zealand partnered with AIG and Wotton + Kearney to host the 2023 Dive In festival session: The Power of Indigenous Inclusion in Global Innovation, featuring keynote speaker Dan Te Whenua Walker. Through an intergenerational lens, Dan shared his journey from his great-grandfather's dreams to his own implementation of these ideals in Microsoft, one of the world's business giants. The session covered ground-breaking strides such as, Microsoft's debut Indigenous strategy on a global scale and the emergence of Ngā Motu, the Māori Minecraft Universe.
Dan Te Whenua Walker is an experienced leader in business development and relationship management with an extensive background in the IT and tech sector. He has a particular passion for how tech can be utilised for Māori and Pasifika economic development. Dan is the Deputy Chair of NZ Māori Tourism, Pou Tuarā of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui, Director of the Centre for Social Impact, and Chair of Whānau Mārama Parenting Charity and holds a variety of community trustee roles around Auckland.
One of the key takeaways from Dan's session was the importance of pushing boundaries and not letting obstacles stand in the way of progress. When Dan started at Microsoft, there were only two Maoris employed at Microsoft and no indigenous colleague resource group. However, he was passionate about promoting indigenous inclusion and was able to rally over 3,000 volunteers around the world to support various indigenous initiatives. Dan's success shows that with determination and passion, it is possible to push boundaries and make a difference.
Cultural tax refers to the burden that is often placed on indigenous people to lead and drive initiatives related to their culture and heritage. Dan Te Whenua Walker highlighted the importance of not placing the burden of promoting indigenous inclusion solely on the shoulders of indigenous people. Dan emphasised the need for collaboration and support from non-indigenous individuals and organisations. This means recognising the value of indigenous knowledge and perspectives, and actively seeking to incorporate them into decision-making processes.
Letting go of bias
During the session, Dan shared his personal journey of overcoming his own biases about being Maori. He emphasised the importance of not allowing biases to get in the way of achieving great things and taking someone on the merit of their skills and abilities. By letting go of biases, we can create a more inclusive environment where everyone has the opportunity to be their full, authentic selves. This can lead to greater innovation and success, as diverse perspectives and experiences can bring new ideas and approaches to the table.
Overall, the session highlighted the importance of indigenous inclusion in global innovation and the power of pushing boundaries, letting go of bias, and replicating successful strategies for all indigenous communities.