Reigniting Hope and Connection in New Zealand
Country Manager, New Zealand
People and Culture
We live in an amazing country with arguably the best lifestyle and quality of life in the world. New Zealand and our cities continually appear in the various top 10 rankings as the best places to visit or live.
Yet our results are not so great in other global rankings. Last year, Unicef’s Building the Future report listed New Zealand as having the worst youth suicide rate in the developed world. How can this be that our young people are getting to a point that they have no hope, no way out and are giving up on life? Can it be that we, the older generation, have lost sight of the pressures of this new digital world our youth live in?
As can be expected this is a very complex issue with multiple causes. Unicef set out to assess countries performance against the promise of “leaving no one behind” mapping what they called Report Card 14 against the UN’s 12 sustainable Development Goals. These ranged from youth drunkenness, bullying, physical violence, inequality, gap in household Income, children living in jobless households, and youth not in education, Employment or training. Then to add to this, there’s the cultural nuance of ‘Us Kiwi’s are tough’ and the ‘Harden up’ mentality, which leads to not asking for help and talking about things in-case you are considered weak.
Whatever the reason, the numbers speak for themselves and this is something we cannot accept. We need to commit to finding a solution to this problem and not just talk about it. We need to take action and bring awareness to the issue. Awareness that this is a problem, awareness about whose responsibility it is to solve, and bring awareness to our youth that there are reasons to have hope, to dream and to achieve those dreams. And it’s not just the youth, there are plenty out there I speak to that feel hollow inside, searching for their purpose and meaning in life.
I believe this every New Zealanders duty of responsibly to help solve, and especially business. I am excited to see the movement from CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs to an entirely new business model starting up– the Social Enterprise.
At Cisco, we have decided to act and have partnered with Rescue Run, DataCom and Youthline to mention a few. We have brought on Jake Bailey as the Cisco Youthline Ambassador. Over the coming months he will be visiting schools across New Zealand with a message of Hope, and that even when things feel at their worst, there are options with people and organisations who can help.
We will also bring a message of Digital Hope & Digital Literacy, instead of the fear based messaging of Digital (Artificial Intelligence & Robots) replacing jobs and widening the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. I believe that we can lift our Youth up on the digital wave, and actually use it to close the social economic divide. Creating a culture of innovation, unlocking and releasing New Zealand’s creative capacity and position in the digital world.
We are also taking up Platinum sponsorship of this year’s Rescue Run event aiming to raise $500k for charities that support us in our times of needs (Cisco have five teams of our own, aiming to raise the target of $5k per team).
Finally, we will use our technology to better equip Youthline and other charities to support them in what they do best – Connecting, helping them scale their services to assist more in need. More to come…
I encourage you to act, not to #speak, but to get involved to make a difference. Because that’s what we are good at, caring for each other and making a difference by giving back.
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The Youthline vision is to create communities which relate to the needs of young people and support them to achieve their potential. They do this by providing meaningful service and genuine leadership and personal development opportunities for all involved. Youthline works hard every day to move closer to its aim of ensuring that every young person in New Zealand...
1. Knows where to get help
2. Feels okay asking for help
3. Can help a friend through a tough time
4. Is engaged in something that lights their fire
5. And that young people are leading these changes in their communities across NZ – not in the future but now
Last year Youthline supported over 50,000 young people across New Zealand, managed 300,000 contacts to the nationwide hubs and saw over 60,000 volunteer hours contributed nationally