Recent years have seen many positive changes in Māori employment, including a large rise in workforce participation, a reduction in those out of work, and a shift to higher-skilled occupations. While many employers are benefiting from the value added by Māori, there remains a major opportunity to employ Māori by accessing the talents and energy of young Māori in the context of an ageing workforce, and developing the talents of those in employment.

Employing Māori people makes good business sense by helping your business to:

    Attract and retain the best of the talent pool

    To be competitive and effective, workplaces need to ensure they recruit the best person for the job and then retain and develop them.

    A survey conducted in 2005 by The University of Auckland Business School revealed that some New Zealand recruiters still discriminate by race. The advice to employers from the study's author Marie Wilson is: "If you only want Pākehā in your workforce, you're limiting yourself to two-thirds of the available workforce, which is rapidly ageing. If you want to be internationally competitive, you can't be provincial in your hiring."2

    Creating a diversified portfolio of staff enables your organisation to reflect the diversity of the local and national communities and to tap into a deeper reservoir of talent. By hiring Māori and creating a culture of diversity in the workplace you are demonstrating you are an EEO employer, or "Employer of Choice", which in turn will attract more prospective employees, Māori and others.

    Improve customer service and increase market share

    Great customer service requires businesses to think creatively about all their existing and prospective customers. Employing Māori can help improve service and increase your share of the growing Māori markets. Through their tribal structures and other relationships, Māori employees have unique opportunities to create networks and connect you to new customers.

    The global marketplace has become rich in cultural diversity with indigenous people increasingly involved in the economy as consumers, employees and entrepreneurs. More understanding of the world view and values of diverse people enables your organisation to improve service to these customers  and increase your market share.

    "Without personal, ethnic and other kinds of diversity, everyone sits round the meeting table and nods their head."

      Strengthen workplace morale and productivity

      All employees and their work benefit from diversity in the workplace. A range of experiences, approaches and perspectives can increase motivation and productivity. This is highlighted in the observation that: "Without personal, ethnic and other kinds of diversity, everyone sits round the meeting table and nods their head."3

      Diverse thinking is very beneficial to business. Morale is also strengthened when employees observe fair employment practices and they can take pride in knowing they work for an equal employment opportunity employer.

      Improve teamwork and understanding

      Successful business frequently requires employees to work in project teams in order to achieve faster and smarter outputs and better results. This, in turn, demands that employees have high levels of collaborative skills. Many Māori have acquired these skills through their culture that values shared activity and working with others.

      Māori culture provides excellent collaborative learning opportunities and instils strong principles of teamwork. This is particularly evident in the many facets of marae life where people come together, often very quickly, to organise large-scale events. These qualities of teamwork and organisation can bring benefits to your workplace.

      Create new products and services

      Māori have a strong track record of being innovative. This ability to innovate continues to be seen in the extensive Māori creation of new products and services. Many Māori have abundant entrepreneurial attributes including energy, enthusiasm, hard work, tenacity, an ability to bounce back from failure, people skills, experience, intuition and a "feel" for the market.

      These qualities can enhance Māori recruitment prospects, especially if they lack formal qualifications. You can employ this entrepreneurial capacity to generate new products and services including specialist offerings for the growing Māori population.

      Build profitable partnerships

      The Māori economy is a dynamic, flourishing economy interwoven with the greater New Zealand economy and offering significant opportunities for business. Fully capitalising on these opportunities requires understanding of the nature of this economy and the needs of its constituents. Māori staff can help you understand and benefit from these opportunities. Furthermore, employing Māori will provide your organisation with more credibility as a supplier to, or joint venture partner with, Māori.

      The size of the Māori economy

      Māori commercial assets were worth nearly $9 billion in 2001. The majority of this is held by Māori businesses ($5.7b). The remainder is held by Māori trusts, incorporations and other entities. Assets owned by self-employed Māori (sole operators and those with staff) are largely invested in "tertiary" industries, such as wholesale and retail trade, property, transport, social services, hospitality and tourism. In 2003, Te Puni Kokiri published a research paper prepared by NZIER:

      • Annual Māori production is $1.9 billion and Māori value added is $1.1 billion, being about 1.4% of GDP.
      • Māori agricultural output is estimated at 7.4% ($700m) of New Zealand output.
      • Māori have a land base of 1.5 million hectares used for pastoral farming, horticulture and forestry. 
      • Māori own about 10% of New Zealand forests and about 37% of New Zealand quota with an annual revenue value of $300m.
      • In 2001, Māori owned about 7% of the housing stock, which gives a value of around $9 billion.4
      • Māori exports were estimated at $650 million in 2000.
      • Māori have major shareholdings in industries such as fisheries and tourism.

      Comply with legal requirements

      Employers can better manage their activities by understanding legislation that has implications for Māori and that may impact on their business. At the most basic level, from an employment perspective, the Employment Relations Act and the Human Rights Act make it unlawful to discriminate in employment, including during recruitment. Beyond employment law a range of other legislation incorporates a Māori dimension.

      Māori employees can help you understand and meet legal requirements that arise from this legislation. An example is the Resource Management Act (RMA), which provides a framework for the sustainable management of natural and physical resources. Private sector organisations and local bodies are often obliged to consult with Māori over RMA issues. Māori employees in your organisation may be able to help you:

      • find the right Māori authorities with whom to consult
      • develop a process with local Māori that is clearly understood and has credibility
      • clarify protocol when visiting local marae, or the offices of an iwi rūnanga
      • facilitate meetings with local Māori
      • explain Māori cultural views about the relationship between the natural environment and people to assist in negotiating mutually successful outcomes.

      Expand the bottom line

      Many businesses understand the business case for adopting a triple bottom line where business practices take account of social and environmental considerations. Sustainable business locally and internationally is expanding from the triple to the quadruple bottom line. This fourth bottom line includes capitalising on the cultural dimension that has not been fully recognised in the past. The move towards a quadruple bottom line was highlighted at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. There, Helen Clark called for the global community to add a fourth pillar, the cultural dimension, alongside the economic, environmental and the social pillars of sustainability.

      Employing Māori is a tangible example of the quadruple bottom line in action. The New Zealand Government is encouraging the "fourth pillar" by including this in its Sustainable Development Programme of Action. Its programme features a set of operating principles for policy development that require government to take account of the cultural consequences of its decisions, as well as the economic, social, and environmental impacts. These principles include respecting cultural diversity and working in partnership with appropriate Māori authorities to empower Māori in development decisions that affect them. At a local level, legislation requires councils to plan and work on the basis of the quadruple bottom line approach and to include cultural factors in their reporting.

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