Last year, Xero worked alongside the Inspiring Stories team as an Impact Partner. This partnership came about from our shared values and purpose.
Aligned to our company purpose ‘to make life better for people in small business, their advisors and communities around the world’, Xero seeks to maximise our positive impact across everything we do. For Xero, building a sustainable business means creating positive social and environmental impact. This includes respecting the planet’s resources, helping to build thriving communities, supporting small business prosperity and supporting diversity and inclusion.
Making a difference for our future
Inspiring Stories is a social enterprise backing young New Zealanders to change the world. It runs a number of initiatives including Festival for the Future, The Impact Awards, Inspiring Speakers and Future Leaders. Through the Future Leaders programme they have supported thousands of young New Zealanders to build their entrepreneurship and leadership capability, and their ideas to make a difference for our future. The Future Leaders programme is a free and accessible part-time programme that supports young people in regional and rural Aotearoa to connect, develop skills and confidence, and work on meaningful projects to make a difference in their community.
In support of this programme, Xero hosted four rangatahi from the programme as part of a three day Xero Xperience. Each of these future leaders had been nominated by their regional Future Leader cohort as making an outstanding contribution to the mahi the team were doing.
The plan was for the four to arrive on Sunday, ready to visit the Xero office and connect with Xeros and some of our partners and customers the next day. Unfortunately, that Sunday evening the whole country moved into Level Red which meant the Xero office was closed to all visitors.
So, ‘Plan B’ was implemented and we used the AirBNB accommodation booked as a base and moved all meetings to online.
Establishing and building connections
Prior to the programme, the Inspiring Stories team had sent a short profile of each winner highlighting their passions, interests and what they were doing next as most of the group had just finished high school. Based on these profiles we set up meetings to enable them to connect and korero with people who work within such areas as maoridom, community led projects/ initiatives, Kaitiakitanga, mental health, social justice and social enterprise.
This was an opportunity for these four outstanding individuals, as well as for us, to understand what was important to them and how we could best support them to grow and thrive.
Some of the groups the team connected with included:
Nevertheless – two inspiring wahine who are looking to redefine the way people view and validate themselves. They want to destigmatise mental health by encouraging self-love as a priority.
Take2 – teaches incarcerated individuals to code, enabling meaningful employment opportunities.
South Auckland Young Entrepreneurs (SAYE) – work to empower and enable young adults in the South Auckland community, helping them succeed in employment and business.
Storyo – is a platform that celebrates stories of women and gender diverse folk across New Zealand.
In the Flow State – a local fintech startup that combines financial education with technology to change the narrative and relationship with money for Maori and Pasifika young adults.
We also connected them to some of our own talent within Xero who shared stories and talked to them about a number of relevant topics. These included growth mindset, psychological safety in the workplace, leadership, resilience, being comfortable with pivoting on your initial career aspirations, confidence and networking – to name a few.
Creating impact to create positive social change
On our final day, we captured feedback from the team on how the future leaders’ programme and Xero Xperience had impacted them. They talked about their learnings and what they wanted to take back to their communities to create positive change. Watch this space as we will be sharing this shortly.
Being able to work alongside groups such as Inspiring Stories and the Future Leaders programme has been profound. I’ve been incredibly grateful for the shared experiences, openness and honesty of the group. It has made me appreciate my privilege as a Pakeha, cis, heterosexual woman. I feel blessed working at a company that recognises the importance of connecting with the wider community, supporting and creating positive social change.
Xero believes in giving back and supporting the communities in which we operate by working with for-purpose organisations to provide future opportunities. I look forward to seeing how partnerships like this develop in the future and the outcomes they can achieve.