The Waikato Pacific Business Network (WPBN) was pleased to have collaborated for the first time with the Institute of Directors Waikato (IOD) to present a panel event addressing diversity and inclusivity asking the question:

What can the governance of sport and recreation teach us about the value of diversity and inclusivity?

The response from the panellist was as anticipated: frank and to the point of how far we as a Nation have come in embracing D&I yet we still have a fair way to go. The event was delivered differently – it oozed diversity and inclusivity from the onset – ticking a few boxes.

  1. Waikato Pacific Business Network partnering with Institute of Directors Waikato – tick.
  2. Co-facilitators delivering questions to the panel: Natasha Harvey (IOD) and Lale Ieremia (WPBN) – tick.
  3. Panellist: Sir Michael Jones, Kirsten Patterson (KP) and Diane Hallifax – tick.
  4. Closing remarks – Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau WPBN/IOD a board member speaking on behalf of both organisations – tick.

This collaboration between WPBN and IOD sees a shifting in the dial between two very different yet very similar organisations of bringing diversity and inclusion to the forefront of governance and leadership in the Waikato region.

This is a first for both organisations but do not expect it to be the last.  Key nuggets received from the panellists:

  • From Sir Michael Jones he says ‘leaders and influence are a gift and must steward such gifts appropriate for impact. Across sporting governance bodies in NZ, pacific is only represented by 0.1% and Maori 0.3% – yet collectively our contribution to the sports in NZ is substantial.  We need to see a reflection across governing and leadership platforms reflecting what we as New Zealanders are seeing on the playing fields. Being a leader, you have to be courageous.  As a Pacific person – I set myself a standard, a scorecard because I set myself goals to achieve not only as a governor but as a Pacific person in a governing role.
  • KP stated the importance of diversity is recognising and accepting diversity of thought within a team. Diversity isn’t like Noah’s Ark – where you have two of everything, it is about different thinking and different experiences.
  • Diane says you don’t have to know everything about the sport to be in governance -you just have to be good at governance. Your governance journey can start quite simply by being on the kindergarten or paly centre committee.

As governors, as leaders across any discipline it is our role to educate and shift the atmosphere/perspective of how relevant D&I is within our sphere of influence.  We are all part of the solution. As Pacific leaders and governors it is inherent in our DNA that we are navigators seeking solutions and lead with intent: this is the value-add we bring to the table for effective decision making.

Historically sitting at the table and being ‘different’ was seen as tokenism yet times have changed and changed, they have rapidly internationally – but is it changing fast enough across the Waikato?

If you haven’t caught onto D&I within your workplace and/or around your decision making table – you best come out from under your rock – get uncomfortable with the shift – it may take time – but in the end it can only be good for your organisation, your business and your team. Soon enough D&l becomes the norm and we are all better off for it!

By: Rachel Afeaki

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