Despite making up more than a quarter of NZ\u2019s population, M\u0101ori and Pasifika peoples make up just 6.8% of New Zealand's IT workforce.\n\nWith the tightening labour market for IT staff, there is a bigger push than ever for companies to examine what they can do to attract more people to the industry. Conversations on diversity amongst IT executives have picked up, says Gartner senior director, advisory Neha Kumar.\n\n\u201cCIOs are losing critical talent so, they are trying to think beyond just making incremental changes to their talent strategies, they're scrambling to sort of sharpen it and think of bold changes. And that's where they're starting to look at, seriously tapping into the diversity in terms of the talent pool,\u201d Kumar says.\n\nThere are numerous reasons why so few M\u0101ori and Pasifika people pursue a career in tech but one of the main factors is the lack of representation, says Microsoft global co-chair of Indigenous Dan Walker (Ng\u0101ti Ruanui).\n\n\u201cIf our parents and rangatahi [young people] do not see their aunties, uncles, cousins, etc., and wider wh\u0101nau\u2014or even some people that look like them\u2014in IT, then they are less likely to think of tech as a viable option for their children or themselves. A lack of representation always results in a lack of trust. Likewise, from the schooling side, I have seen research that shows our M\u0101ori and Pasifika rangatahi are streamed into other opportunities outside of STEM curricula. It can sometimes be well-meaning support that creates a divergence in the early years which becomes exponential in the later years. The result is very few M\u0101ori and Pasifika studying for tech roles in the tertiary level, becoming self-perpetuating in the demand side,\u201d Walker says.\n\nIf M\u0101ori and Pasifika people do consider a career in IT, Walker says they have to contend with barriers that others may not have to deal with.\n\n\u201cThese are things like unconscious and conscious bias in the recruitment processes and interviews. Examples are simple, things such as not understanding cultural nuances of deferential respect in eye contact, not wanting to speak too proudly of themselves and their achievements\u2014especially Pasifika\u2014, or not recognising or valuing their leadership in their own community,\u201d Walkers says.\n\nThe importance of hiring managers undergoing cultural competency training to understand their own biases, is another key point to look at says Walker.\n\nRebecca Thomas, CIO at PwC New Zealand, is bucking the trend with 25% of her staff of M\u0101ori and Pasifika descent.\n\n"If you want diversity, you need to recruit diversity and it sounds really simple and it really is that simple,\u201d Thomas says.\n\nThomas points to PwC\u2019s work in the community as being a factor in lifting their visibility. She says one of the leaders, director of NZ IT Simoli Aati, has been instrumental in building relationships with the Pasifika community. Aati regularly speaks at community sessions and at churches about careers in IT.\n\n\u201cYou need to find women, and M\u0101ori, and Pacific people and recruit them, so that's what we've done, and I haven't found a shortage of candidates,\u201d Thomas says.\n\nCIOs can help encourage M\u0101ori and Pasifika people to apply for IT roles\n\nThere are four things CIOs should consider when looking to grow their pool of M\u0101ori and Pasifika talent, according to Walker.\n\n\u201cI did my Masters in Tikanga M\u0101ori ki te Ao Matihiko\u2014M\u0101ori values as a framework for digital leadership and I\u2019m of the view that the tech sector can be a powerful force for good. If you are authentic about how you do it, and have worked alongside the M\u0101ori or Pasifika community, your impact can be local and global,\u201d Walker says.\n\n\u201cI\u2019m proud of the work that we have done here at Microsoft such as our support of Whetu Paitai at Piki Studios to create Ng\u0101 Motu, a M\u0101ori Minecraft universe, the launch of the Aotearoa keyboard with macrons inbuilt for greater accessibility, and how we have supported TupuToa and Zeducation in the launch of Hikohiko te Uira\u2014a free M\u0101ori and Pasifika digital skills programme to name a few. As my mentor Pania Tyson-Nathan says \u2018it isn\u2019t about commercialising culture - it is about culturalising commerce\u2019,\u201d Walker says.\n\nHow to retain M\u0101ori and Pasifika talent\n\nGetting more indigenous people into roles is one thing but keeping them engaged and feeling valued also requires effort, says Gartner\u2019s Kumar.\n\n\u201cUnless you educate your own staff to be inclusive of the indigenous community, those people aren't going to stick if they feel like they stand out and aren't treated the same\u2026 [If] you're only looking at it from the hiring lens to improve diversity and, unless you address equity and not just equality, they start from a backfoot often in many organisations,\u201d Kumar says.\n\nStart to focus on equity and making an inclusive workplace where existing managers and staff are educated to build an inclusive culture for these people. That's the only way to retain this talent, Kumar says.\n\nWalker echoes this and warns that managers also need to be mindful of the \u2018cultural tax\u2019 placed on employees that have cultural connections to a community organisations want access to.\n\n\u201cIt shows up in ways as simple as needing a M\u0101ori name for an internal programme to checking the quality of a mihi all the way through to leading p\u014dwhiri and mana whenua engagements. So not only does the employee need to be good at their role, they need to be strong in their culture as well\u2014often for no extra pay. We know that colonisation has caused a majority of M\u0101ori not to be strong in their culture which brings up other feelings of inadequacy and inferiority,\u201d says Walker.\n\nWalker has seen this pressure especially on early-in-career M\u0101ori and Pasifika.\n\n\u201cWhile there are some exceptional rockstars, most M\u0101ori and Pasifika in the tech sector are represented in the lowest levels of our organisations. I have especially seen top performers leave because they are wanting to move up but struggle to find mentorship, sponsorship or the networks of privilege afforded to those who look and act like the people at the top,\u201d Walker says.