Thriving Voices: Fujitsu on inclusion

23 Nov 2021
Sustainable Business Council

In one of our regular Thriving People Thriving Voices series, SBC’s Megan Gallagher spoke with Sarah Retter, Acting Country Manager, Fujitsu, and Edwina Mistry, Founder, Create Ops, about Fujitsu's new Maori and Pacific Peoples Inclusion Plan, how the plan was created, and why partnerships sit at the heart of it.


In today's Thriving People Thriving Voices video we are hearing about Fujitsu's Māori and Pacific Peoples Inclusion plan, how partnerships are a critical component of this plan and sharing learnings for how other businesses can make progress to building workplaces that foster a sense of belonging and inclusion for all.

We are joined for today's kōrero by Sarah Retter, from Fujitsu and Edwina Mistry from Create Ops.

Sarah is the acting Country Manager for New Zealand and orchestrated the development of the inclusion plan this year while Edwina is the founder and director of Create Ops, an organisation focused on upskilling people into the tech workforce.

Create Ops is one of the partners central to Fujitsu's inclusion plan to create and support pathways for Māori and Pacific young people into employment with Fujitsu and the broader IT sector.

Thank you both for joining us today. Maybe we could start off with you giving us a bit of an overview around the inclusion plan, what it is and and how it came about.

Yeah sure thanks Megan.

So Fujitsu's purpose is to make the world more sustainable by building trust in society through innovation, and the inclusion plan is our commitment to New Zealand employees, customers and communities for empowered and diverse workforce.

So it's about bringing new ideas to the table but also driving a positive impact with the community through the creation of strong partnerships.

So what are the key three elements of that inclusion plan? So we've structured our plan around Fujitsu's global values of aspiration trust and empathy and that they're designed to guide how we work together every day to achieve our purpose.

So with that in mind, our Māori and Pacific People's Inclusion Plan includes the values in te reo which is my translation is Wawata for aspiration, Tiakitanga for trust and Aroha for empathy.

These are important for Fujitsu as well as the people of New Zealand and they are how we will partner for impact and the inclusion of Māori and Pacific people in our business.

so what we wanted to do was include different perspectives to deliver a more holistic view of society and customers to better identify unmet needs in society and in our workforce and some new opportunities as well.

So attracting a more diverse talent isn't just the right thing to do for us but it contributes to our sustainable profitable growth and continued success in the New Zealand market as well.

so we've obviously been participating with Sustainable Business Council around diversity and inclusion and particularly on the inclusion side of things and we know that it's hugely important to our customers here in New Zealand and the community in general as well as and we see that through our engagement in business as well so we recognised we had a role to play and it's core to our new inclusion plan that we take active steps to make contributions and demonstrate our commitment through implementing that plan.

Thank you so much for that overview Sarah.

Edwina, thank you so much for joining us.

Could you share a little bit about your work and why partnerships of this nature are so beneficial to businesses but also to Aotearoa Kia ora Meghan, kia ora Sarah, Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Now the first thing is I have been involved in this space for over 14 years and when I say being involved in the space, it was 14 years ago when I was working in the education sector I noticed and when I was involved in teaching you know IT, the technology degree, i noticed that it was very obvious that there was a lack of women in the classroom and there was a lack of Māori and Pacifica students in the classroom.

And so I took it upon myself at that stage to look at how do we improve that? And the only way we could improve that was first and foremost creating opportunity for more girls to look at technology as a career and look at how Māori Pacifica students could look in school could look at opportunities in technology now with the Māori Pacifica communities, unfortunately as we are aware that in New Zealand there's only three to four percent of Māori Pacifica that are in the technology sector working in the technology sector, and therefore it's natural that as you look at it when people are encouraged when parents encourage their children to look at their future careers it's naturally something that they would encourage them to do based on what knowledge they have or what they have been doing now because there isn't a lot of Māori Pacifica in the technology world it's natural you will not getting the young ones looking at that as an opportunity So I felt how do we change that? The only way you can change that is giving them the opportunity and showcasing to them the opportunity, they have to see to believe and understand.

And to do that you can't just go and say come and start doing a course or a diploma or a degree in tertiary you have to start whilst they''re at school and therefore i started many programs while students were in school in year 10 that's a year when they start thinking about their future or we should be encouraging them to look at their future so at year 10 I encourage two areas, I encourage girls and a greater opportunity for girls and Māori Pacifica students to have connection to industry where I created programs that we took them into an organisation to understand what are the various careers that are in technology and then what are the pathways to those careers.

Looking at the partnership between both of you and can you share sort of what those first steps have been on that journey of partnership and then what the next 12 months hold for you.

Sure Meghan and thank you. So as Edwina mentioned and we've been working really closely together and one of the key parts of our of our strategy is working with partners to help us because obviously we don't have the knowledge in all of the different spaces so Edwina's been really crucial to that journey so the first thing that we're looking at doing with Edwina is supporting the Māori in Tech program, moving into Why Tech when that runs again next year and then we've got a number of other bits and pieces that we're working with her who are on as well include including and some internship opportunities for Fujitsu New Zealand as well so and we're really excited to be working with Edwina and we're hoping that partnership will expand over the next 12 months.

And Edwina on your end you know you spoke about being outcomes focused, what are those outcomes look like in translation for you I actually look for people I look for students that come to these these events that are not really looking at tech as an opportunity because if someone already knows about you, you've already sold it they don't need to be changed, right? They already know.

It's those that don't know so what i have is i would say 70% of the attendees would have no clue for what they are actually attending or why or what and what they're going to learn.

So we do that at the beginning, and then I do it at the end, and it is amazing to see that at the end of the day we have about 80 percent that actually responds saying that day has made a difference and a lot of them then go back and re-look at their careers and re-look at their subjects and they make connections and get internships with industry, now that's an outcome which is important now with Māori Pacifica it's not only about the student, it's about the whānau and therefore it's very important about influencing the influencer.

So in many of my programs somehow I see that the influencers are also invited at some stage to the event so they can see firsthand because if they don't believe it what they don't understand they're not going to encourage the kids and I need buy-in from the influencer for it to work, the same way i need buy-in from industry.

The other part of the plan is obviously there's an existing employee base for Fujitsu so we'd be really keen to understand what the reaction has been from employees since the launch of the plan.

Thanks Megan yeah and we ran a launch event online, due to Covid lockdowns unfortunately, but it was a really well attended event.

We had our CEO Graeme Beardsell the Head of Office of Purpose Nicole Forrester attended and we had our employees across all of Oceania, in fact, they were invited to come and listen to talk about the plan and to talk about the values and also to hear from Edwina from some real life experiences as well.

It was really well received and since then we've had some amazing feedback.

We had it recorded so people that couldn't join at the time were able to watch it after and we've had some incredible feedback that employees thought it was about time that we did something in this space which is really encouraging.

And we recently held Activate Now, which is Fujitsu's global technology showcase last week and we were able to have Māori and Pacific represented through a whaikōrero done by one of our employees as a result of having launched that plan, so that was really exciting for us but we've got more employees wanting to use language and particularly greetings, we've had the Māori keyboard installed as part of our standard operating image for our pcs, and i've also noticed that we've got a lot more Māori greetings coming through and even our CEO is using it in all his addresses to all of our employees as well which is really fantastic to see, so the feedback has been awesome and we've got real interest from our employees in participating in Māori language events and really embracing it into our business from an everyday perspective.

In terms of the experience that you've had around developing that inclusion plan, obviously a lot of organisations are on that journey, but for our members who are interested and uncertain where to start, do you have any sort of tips for them about where to begin and how to gain the momentum and success that you guys have had? Yeah sure thanks Megan so as I mentioned, and as you've heard from Edwina, partnership is really key to our strategy and it's obviously as i said before something we can't do without the support of our partners as well so the one thing I would say is don't try and do this on your own, lean into your networks and find someone who's had that experience and really see if they can help you to kind of structure what it should look like, and don't feel like you're alone it is a really tough space to work in if you've never done it before but one thing I did really find helpful and that's as you'll see coming through our plan, structuring it around something that was existing in our business, so for us the three core values of Fujitsu became really the foundation of that plan, and it was much easier for us to link it back to something that we already knew, than trying to create something completely from scratch.

Thank you both so much, is there anything else that you would like to say before we finish today? Go and create opportunities and make it happen, you know slowly we can make things happen and we can bring in change but it's part of a long journey and getting people onto the journey is important.