Marketing is not a culturally safe environment for Indigenous peoples

Luke Pearson, Founder and CEO, IndigenousX

The quest for Indigenous leadership and inclusion within every Australian industry continues to be an important action for structural reform.

AboriginalX – the first 100% Indigenous-owned and operated media, consulting and training organization – is the cultural leader in this fight for cultural safety in the workplace.

At the 2022 AANA Reset, Luke Pearson, CEO and Founder of IndigenousX, used his stage time to point out that the marketing industry is not doing enough to represent Indigenous ideologies and deliver justice.

“Our biggest client is the Indigenous people in struggling organizations in your environment. It’s not a culturally safe environment.

“They’re asking for help and we (IndigenousX) are trying our best.”

What is Cultural Safety?
“Cultural safety is a concept most executives and HR people will recognize, but it’s more than putting Indigenous artwork in your lobby, which seems to be as far as safety cultural is reflected in the sectors right now.

“When we talk about creating culturally safe environments, we mean atmosphere, workplace culture, relationships between people, trust, relationships and feeling safe.

“Even if I experience racism in a case with an individual, (cultural safety is knowing) that the institution will respond appropriately.

“You are never going to convince me that I will never experience racism.

“But you can over time let me know that if you happen to be on my side and I’m not going to be in disbelief, rejected, said I’m too sensitive, told to ignore it or not be in unable to access essential services for fear of negative consequences.

What can the marketing industry do to increase Aboriginal representation?
“If there was a list of things we could do to solve racism, I’d like to think we would have done it already.

“But there isn’t, it’s case by case and you have to navigate with the principles of self-determination.

For example, when hiring Indigenous talent, “don’t just start with Indigenous interns.

“We need to bring in Indigenous CEOs, bring in senior executives to empower them to affect change in the system.

“I mean Indigenous executive programs, not Indigenous intern training programs.”

More importantly, “measure the work you do.

“Show me the frame, the thing you made. What did he achieve? And how do you measure it? It would be a good start.”

Although Pearson encourages the industry to look at the big picture.

Indigenous representation “doesn’t just look like Indigenous involvement in mainstream industries. It is a strong and independent aboriginal sector.

“We (IngeniousX) are not representative, we are not big enough. I don’t necessarily want to aspire to that path either.

“I would rather NITV had the infrastructure.

“I think we’re doing a lot of major renovations, but I’m not sure we’re doing better.

“We have to come together, tell the truth and we have to listen.”

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