In recent years, major corporations have taken steps to address historical and ongoing injustices faced by Indigenous communities… or at least, pretend that they are.
And Google Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is the tech giant’s latest effort, aiming to foster a more inclusive digital future for all Australians.
But while the RAP is rich in mentions of promoting awareness and understanding, a closer look reveals potential gaps in its approach.
With the Google RAP not providing many specific metrics on anything, e.g. current Indigenous employee numbers and desired employment target, and as we delve deeper into Google’s ReconciliACTION score, the question arises: Is the tech behemoth’s plan a robust blueprint for change, a well-intentioned but vague gesture, or a PR stunt?
Google ReconciliACTION Score
Reconciliation Action Plan Pros:
- Google’s second Innovate RAP was launched, and Sundar Pichai, the global CEO of Google and Alphabet, announced commitments related to racial and Indigenous inclusivity.
- Google amplifies Indigenous voices through initiatives like the NAIDOC Week playlist on YouTube.
- Google encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to pursue education and careers in technology and science.
- Google has collaborated with Magabala Books to develop TRACES and has provided funding to Indigenous Australian organisations related to tech innovations.
- Google supports the launch of RealTone on Google Pixel and aims to update image libraries to ensure a more diverse representation, including showcasing experiences on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Country.
- Google aims to promote reconciliation and engage all Australia-based employees in reconciliation outcomes through various events.
Pros – Tangible Action(s):
- Spend a minimum of $250,000 AUD annually with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.
Note: Google mentions other tangible initiatives but they aren’t specific to “reconciliation”, so I’ve excluded them from this (reconciliACTION) review.
Reconciliation Action Plan Cons:
- Lack of Tangible Goals: Apart from the specific financial commitment to spend a minimum of $250,000 AUD annually with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, the RAP appears to lack other clear, tangible goals.
For example, they mention having 2,000 employees in Australia, but how many are First People?
- Overemphasis on Awareness: While promoting awareness and understanding is essential, without concurrent actionable initiatives, it might not lead to substantial change in closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
- Accountability Concerns: Without specific tangible metrics, targets, and objectives, it becomes difficult to hold Google accountable for the commitments made in the RAP.
- Potential for Superficial Engagement: Without clear (tangible) actions and metrics, there’s a risk that the initiatives might lead to superficial engagement rather than creating deep, meaningful, and lasting change.
- Risk of Tokenism: Without clear actions, there’s a risk that the initiatives might be perceived as tokenistic rather than genuine efforts to support Indigenous communities.
- Lack of Engagement Metrics: There’s no clear mention of how Google plans to measure engagement or the positive impact of its initiatives on the Indigenous community.
“This year, Google celebrated our 20th year in Australia – and we wanted to use this new chapter in our local history to push ourselves to do more.”Melanie Silva, Managing Director at Google Australia & New Zealand
Google’s RAP showcases the tech giant’s intent to address the historical and ongoing challenges faced by Indigenous communities.
And while the company has taken commendable steps, such as the financial commitment to Indigenous businesses and efforts to amplify Indigenous voices, the RAP’s effectiveness remains questionable due to its lack of clear, actionable goals in helping close the disparity gaps.
The emphasis on awareness, while crucial, needs to be complemented by tangible actions to ensure genuine progress… and some may see it as disappointing to see one of the biggest and richest companies in the world seem to place more focus on promoting Indigenous people instead of helping them through tangible actions e.g. employment targets.
And the absence of specific metrics and targets raises concerns about the company’s accountability and the potential for superficial engagement.
So as major corporations like Google step into the realm of reconciliation, it’s imperative that their commitments are not just well-intentioned gestures or PR stunts but are backed by robust plans that can be measured, evaluated, and held accountable in relation to their (tangible) impact on First Nations communities.
Only then can such efforts transcend beyond PR optics and truly contribute to bridging the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Barayamal Rating: /5
Public Rating of RAP: /5
|Who||Reconciliation Claim||RAP||ReconciliACTION Score||Public Score|
Our vision for reconciliation is one where the cultures, knowledge and histories of Indigenous Australians are accessible, understood and appreciated by all Australians.
Ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can access the financial system and experience positive financial outcomes.
|Reflections Holiday Park||2023-24 RAP:|
Reflections will develop opportunities for cultural expression and celebration while delivering social, cultural, and economic outcomes for Aboriginal communities.
Guided by our purpose to ‘Inspire Confidence, Empower Change’, we are committed to placing truth-telling, self-determination and cultural safety at the centre of our approach.