'Kāore te kumara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka'
Monday, 11 June 2018
Photo: 'My Mate Tukio Afeaki' Photographer: Tony Cutting
Kia ora Koutou,
I was raised on Hongoeka Marae. One of the first things I learnt while growing up in my community is you get more respect being humble than you do 'showing off'.
There is a famous Maori proverb "Kāore te kumara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka" translation - The kumara (sweet potato) does not say how sweet he is
This proverb accentuates the value of humbleness.
Maori and Pasifika people are extremely humble and I know as a fact they have missed out on opportunities because of this. In a previous life, I spent many years in recruitment and have sat on New Zealand recruitment panels both in government and private organisations and have been involved with selection processes (designed by so-called experts who do not have humility as a part of their culture) and witnessed Maori and Pasifika candidates being marked down 'because they did not speak up or sell themselves".
In my case, I have been able to point out the situation to people on the selection panels about the prejudice of this selection criteria. However, given nearly 80% of all recruitment panels do not have people who truly understand this cultural difference, how many Maori and Pasifika are missing out on jobs, and for organisations how many great people have they missed out on due to these very common practices.
The scary thing is I have witnessed many HR and Recruitment people, even after I have pointed out what is happening, fervently state that if a person is not able 'to stand up for themselves' or 'show leadership' they should not be hired regardless of their culture. This has to be stopped.
In a world that is rapidly demanding that people speak up and promote themselves both in person and in digital form, how do Maori & Pasifika deal with this dilemma?
They go against their own values and 'become' a self-promoting 'pakeha' when looking for a job or pitching their business. Not an option for many.
They work hard and hope that someone recognises this. Not really a practical solution, given the current situation with recruitment processes and the global trend to grow your personal brand if you truly want to accelerate your success.
There are really only three real practical solutions.
Education. Organisations need to either train staff to better understand this situation (a difficult solution right now, given the amount of prejudice throughout New Zealand and the world). So they must include people in the recruitment selection process who understand this and will ensure a fair playing field for all applicants.
Consultants like myself are engaged to help with a recruitment or procurement process.
Marketers like myself become champions for people who find it difficult to self-promote and help them work out how to do this while also remaining humble. Then executing a strategy that builds their brand using a third-party approach.
This issue is the reason I have adapted my consultancy services to help both employers and people who struggle in this world of self-promotion. My goal is to help educate organisations in New Zealand on this serious problem while also teaching those who want to remain humble how to do this, and still build the dream life they deserve.
I hope you found this information helpful.
Consultant/founder The Kumara Vine