Microsoft charges Māori and Native American executives to increase indigenous employment

By Bronson Perich

Microsoft’s only Māori executive has been tasked with bringing more indigenous people into the global giant. Working with a Native American counterpart, Willow Young, Dan Walker (Ngāti Ruanui, Tuhourangi, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Kahungunu) will head a new working group, ‘Indigenous at Microsoft’.

“We’re on a bit of a journey at Microsoft,” Walker says.

“It’s a journey of cultural identity, human respect and shared experiences.”

"Being Māori is my superpower"

For Walker, this goes beyond platitudes and policies. He believes indigenous tikanga, kawa and people are an asset to IT/Tech.

“Tech is good for Māori but Māori is good for tech,” Walker says.

“There’s a real need for indigenous wisdom, I believe, in tech.”

He goes so far as to say that it is his Māoritanga, which has helped reach incredible heights in the IT/Tech realm. He’s well known in the tech realm, for saying being Māori is his ‘superpower’.

“The reason I’m successful in tech is because I’m Māori,” Walker says.

Increasing indigenous participation

The ‘Super Maori Fulla’ has been working behind the scenes to increase the numbers of Māori and Pasifika working in the tech industry for over a decade now. His latest efforts include taking an intern from the Cook Islands named Dylan Apera.

Leading Indigenous at Microsoft puts Walker and Willow Young in a position to make systemic changes.

“We’re going to try to change it. We’re gonna try and diversify our recruitment,” Walker says.

At the moment, Māori and Pasifika make up 2% of IT/tech workers in the country. Walker believes that while companies like Microsoft need to change how they recruit indigenous people, Māori have a part to play as well.

“We’ve got to drive our kids into tech.”

Indigenous at Microsoft is the ninth employee resource group. The first, called Blacks at Microsoft was initiated in 1989. Other groups include; Asians at Microsoft; Disability at Microsoft; Families at Microsoft; GLEAM (Global LGBTQI+ Employees and Allies at Microsoft); HOLA (Hispanic and Latinx at Microsoft); Military at Microsoft, and Women at Microsoft.