The need for tech organisations to open their recruitment processes to a wider group of New Zealanders has seen many of them adopt diversity and inclusion policies. But policies alone won\u2019t widen the talent pool if you keep looking in the same places and carrying out the same hiring practices.\nTupuToa is an organisation set up five years ago to create summer internship programmes for M\u0101ori and Pacific tertiary students in the corporate sector. In its first year, it matched 28 interns with roles, and this upcoming summer it expects to place about 240 young people. Around half those placements will be either in the tech sector or in tech-related roles.\n[ M\u0101ori participation in IT: diversity insights for CIOs everywhere \u2022 IT snapshot: Ethnic diversity in the tech industry. ]\nCEO Anne Fitisemanu says the programme has grown as organisations have realised the importance of diversity in New Zealand. While M\u0101ori and Pacific people make up 27 per cent of the population, only a small percentage is represented in the tech sector, and that means products and solutions are often not meeting the market.\n\u201cThe downside to not having us represented is that the work that you do is never going to be able to be presented in the richness that it can be because you\u2019re missing people at the table,\u201d Fitisemanu says.\nWhy corporates are partnering with TupuToa\nTupuToa programme manager Maruata Reweti says part of the reason that some organisations fail to recruit M\u0101ori and Pacific people is because they carry out the same recruitment process every year. It could be an online application that filters out people based on grade point average, coupled with on-campus events which M\u0101ori and Pacific people often don\u2019t attend because \u201cthey don\u2019t feel like they fit.\u201d\n\u201cA lot of our young people, some of them have great GPAs, but some of them might not have the right GPAs for the organisation,\u201d she says. \u201cBut not only are they juggling university, they are juggling part time work, they are the eldest family so are looking after their grandmother and their siblings. So, there is this whole story of which we do the work around to understand that young person, so they aren\u2019t just defined by their tertiary grade when applying for graduate and internship roles.\u201d\nFitisemanu says that the applicant\u2019s story is \u201ctheir power\u201d.\n\nThey know it\u2019s the one thing that makes them different from any other applicant. Their story is their uniqueness and who they are and that\u2019s the piece that gets sifted out through current processes.\nWe now have partners saying to us, \u201cI\u2019d much rather hire somebody that does tell me that story, that resilience\u201d. But our kids are so scared to tell that story, they\u2019re not going to go in there and say, \u201cMy parents lost their home last year, I had to work part time\u201d, they\u2019re not going to tell you that. But if they come through our programme there is a high chance they will tell you that.\n\nTupuToa\u2019s internship process\nIn 2020, 625 young people applied to TupuToa, and of that number about a third dropped away for reasons such as they weren\u2019t in their final year of study or they couldn\u2019t return to New Zealand.\nOf the 420 eligible for internships, 240 are expected to get roles, but all will receive assistance from TupuToa navigators who guide the applicants through the process and act as support during the summer internship. Connection to culture and a willingness to participate in workshops and events is top of the list of things TupuToa looks for in a candidate.\nFitisemanu describes the programme as very \u201chigh touch\u201d. \u201cAt the centre of everything we do is establishing a relationship, because on the back of this relationship we are then able to take young people, our kids, into opportunities that they would never have thought of for themselves. They trust us so we are able to get them to flex, to bend, to go to places they\u2019ve never been before.\u201d\nShe says they prepare them for entering organisations that may be new to employing M\u0101ori or Pacific interns.\n\nYou imagine going in, and let\u2019s be frank, you\u2019re the only brown person and then somebody in tearoom comes to you and says, \u201cOh, you\u2019re the charity case from TupuToa\u201d, so how would you feel about that?.\nWe prepare our kids for that, and that\u2019s why the navigation team are so important. They\u2019re all given a case load. We prepare our interns as much as we can, but if something like that pops up they\u2019ll tell the navigator, the navigator will tell Maruata [Reweti], she\u2019ll probably have a conversation with me, and we\u2019ll go back to the partner and say, \u2018Listen, if you really wanted to change the dial on your M\u0101ori and Pacific workforce, you\u2019re not going to keep them if this is how they\u2019re greeted.\n\nHow TupuToa works with partners\nFitisemanu says its corporate partners have been very open and \u201cquite vulnerable at times because they\u2019ve had to admit that things aren\u2019t that great. You can\u2019t just change a culture overnight; it takes years. We know this work is going to take time, but we are doing it one intern at a time.\u201d\nFreedom Vahaakolo, who interned at Deloitte, said that TupuToa \u201cgrows cultural architects\u201d during his speech at TupuToa\u2019s gala event.\nReweti notes that partners can expect a different way of working than they might be used to. \u201cIf you have a M\u0101ori or Pacific Island person in your workplace, you are probably going to get their whole family. And don\u2019t be surprised if their whole family turns up on Day 1 to greet you because they want to know where their child is going and if you\u2019re going to look after them.\u201d\nThe partnership itself can take many forms outside of offering internships. TupuToa is a New Zealand partner in Microsoft\u2019s global skills initiative, and Fitisemanu cites the recent Salesforce New Zealand arrangement where in addition to taking on two internships every summer for the next three years; it has made TupuToa one of its NGOs for volunteer work.\n\u201cTheir staff have seven full days a year of voluntary hours, so through that we are going have Salesforce assess our Salesforce system, make sure our staff are all trained. So, we will become Salesforce champions, and we\u2019ll be able to share that with everybody we work with, our partners, our communities,\u201d Fitisemanu says.\nSalesforce New Zealand managing director Craig Skinner says this is the first time it has offered internships locally, and he praises for Fitisemanu for her approach. \u201cHer enthusiasm and passion for these young people is infectious. There is some really good talent out there, so its hugely exciting for us.\u201d\nThe partnership also shows how TupuToa is also helping build Salesforce\u2019s cultural capability; for example, its M\u0101ori advisor welcomed delegates to the local Salesforce summit with a mihi whakatau, karakia and haka.\n\u201cOur mission is to grow more M\u0101ori and Pacific leaders for a greater Aotearoa [New Zealand], but we are also growing the cultural capability of our partners so that they understand that it is necessary, that it is the right thing to do for the right reasons. It\u2019s not a \u2018tick box\u2019 experience, it\u2019s not a KPI, it\u2019s not part of a diversity and inclusion plan\u2014it\u2019s so much more than that,\u201d Fitisemanu says.