Where To Start If You Want To Learn More About Indigenous Culture In Your Workplace

National Reconciliation Week was this week. The theme was “Be a Voice for Generations” and encourages all Australians to support First Nations people within the community and be a voice for reconciliation by learning about Indigenous history and culture.

This week is incredibly important, thanks to the discourse surrounding the Voice to Parliament. Australians educating themselves on Indigenous history and culture is more vital than ever in steering the course for reconciliation in Australia.

From acknowledging culture to learning more about history, there are many ways businesses can support Indigenous employees.

Approximately 85% of non-Indigenous Australians know little about First Nations history and culture, and are too nervous to ask their Indigenous colleagues. This can lead to countless micro-aggressions within the office.

LinkedIn is helping Aussies learn more this National Reconciliation Week by working with some of Australia’s most prominent Indigenous voices including Professor Shane Hearn, Dixie Crawford and Professor Robynne Quiggin by pairing them with some of Australia’s most well-known business leaders, including Pip MarlowChris Ellis, and Michelle Hutton.

We asked Shane Hearn, CEO of First Nations Media, how Australians can be better to Indigenous coworkers, and where they can start learning to be a better ally.

PEDSTRIAN.TV: Hi Shane, in a few words, what does the term reconciliation mean to you and how does that play a part in your life currently?

Shane Hearn: It’s a big term. I recall years ago when the campaigning began by the government to bring it in. Reconciliation was brought in to fill the gaps that exist within this country. Ultimately to me, reconciliation refers to actions that bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to help us reconcile the past.

How can businesses make a meaningful impact in their reconciliation journey, rather than just taking tokenistic actions?

It’s important to have a real purpose in reconciliation, especially in the business context. Reconciliation Action Plans shift the way people think and create more actions around learning. And with that, you start to change the culture and promote meaningful actions.

Given cultural differences between First Nations communities and corporate workplaces, how can we ensure Indigenous Australian professionals are supported?

Well, we do have to look at it like two different worlds. The Aboriginal world is more circular and everything is connected. Everyone has a responsibility, every action that you take has an impact on others. Whereas mainstream corporate culture is very hierarchical, it’s more like a ladder. And it’s mostly middle-class, white men at the top. When I was working as an academic, I was completely stripped of my culture. They had me thinking that my culture was not valued. So, my experiences in that area have been quite difficult. Similarly working in a marketing agency land, appreciation of the value I brought as an Indigenous executive was not always there.

On the other hand, I’ve met some of the most remarkable people in my life and had the most positive experiences with non-Indigenous Australian business executives. The basis of those strong relationships was that we accepted each other for who we are and our cultural differences.

The theme for this Reconciliation Week is “Be a Voice for Generations”. What does that theme mean to you?

The theme is very clever – I see it as it’s almost holding a mirror up to Australia. It’s speaking to every segment of the audience, and I think it does it extremely well with the current climate of the impending Referendum. It’s a call-to-action that highlights that everybody has a role in change, every generation has a voice to change things.

More importantly, when people celebrate events on the Aboriginal calendar, like NAIDOC week, there is an eagerness to get involved, and then there’s often a drop off. This really speaks to a longer journey that big things are happening in the nation, and everybody has a role to play.

If you’d like to know more about how you can be a better ally and do more after Reconciliation Week, Linkedin has created a series of videos from First Nations speakers. This content series uncovers insights into the challenges faced by Indigenous Australians in the workplace and how you can do more to support your Indigenous coworkers and be a voice for reconciliation in Australia.

Reconciliation Week may be coming to an end but you can (and should) be learning about Indigenous culture year-round.



Indigenous X and Amy McGuire’s substack also have an incredible amount of information dedicated to how you can support First Nations people and reconciliation.