Identity in White

20 Feb 2017 by Steven Giannoulis

Immigration and the so-called identity dilution that diversity apparently brings is a hot topic on local and global political agendas. As a brand strategist and a descendent of immigrants I naturally have a strong view on the subject of identity. 

Being from immigrant stock is actually what makes us Kiwis. The NZ story doesn’t just take in English and Maori heritage but also incorporates Pacific, Indian, Italian, Dalmation, Chinese and many more cultures. This eclectic tapestry of ethnic backgrounds has today fused together forming the unique Kiwi identity we have today.

People came here in search of a better life for themselves and their families. This spirit of improving our lot is still alive and well in our culture today. Most endured long journeys and tough beginnings to establish a life here and this sense of working hard for self-made success is something we still celebrate. And because of, and not despite of, our distance, we’ve learnt to improvise, think differently and find new ways to create the lifestyle we all enjoy.

Immigrant culture is also the lifeblood of what our identity is evolving into. Most of us live a life which embraces the best of our parents' heritage and our Kiwi upbringing, creating the new cultural norm. Let’s encourage and welcome all those who add to our kiwi culture, finding ways to celebrate the richness diversity brings. Without it, we’d be a very dull place indeed.

All this diversity talk extends into the workforce and I’m all for it. Diversity offers broader experiences and perspectives and therefore leads to better thinking and decision-making, greater creativity and innovation. At Insight we have a great mix of nationalities, ages, interests, beliefs and personalities but we still need to do more. So we promote an active policy to encourage diversity in recruitment while not tolerating reverse discrimination.

I grew up in a cultural minority so I get frustrated at being lumped into a generic European majority or being told I don’t understand bi-culturalism or what it’s like to be different. We ‘white folks’ are not homogenous and interchangeable, all expressing one view and a single perspective. My background, growing up Greek in New Zealand, is very different from my colleagues who are Dutch, German, Scottish, South African or Russian. We may all be white but we all have unique identities and cultures and each one of us brings a distinctive perspective.

So let's encourage, foster and celebrate the diversity we also bring to society and the workplace, remembering that everyone contributes to greater diversity.

Tags: Brand
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