For Curijo, an Aboriginal owned and operated local consulting business, working together is more than a motto – it’s a central value that underpins everything it does.
Co-founder and director Belinda Kendall says one of the biggest challenges she faces is encouraging non-Aboriginal businesses to engage with the company’s services.
“Oftentimes, we come up against the stereotype that as an Aboriginal professional services company we only deal in Indigenous affairs, which, of course, we do, but that’s not all,” she says.
“I’m not saying we can’t do Aboriginal governance well, but it’s about getting the message across that we and our services are of value to businesses of all kinds.”
What Curijo does differently to western services and consultancy businesses is it underpins all of its work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands cultural values.
“It can be challenging to be an Aboriginal woman in business, but it’s also a challenge just being an Aboriginal women in a white, paternalistic society,” says Belinda.
“With Curijo, when challenges or ‘speed bumps’ arise, we sit down and look at what’s going as a collective.”
The company’s foundational values include recognition, reconciliation, opportunity, inclusion, quality and authenticity.
“We aim to navigate both the Aboriginal world and the western one to work out how best we can all move forward together,” says Belinda.
This same philosophy underpins Curijo’s approach to recruitment.
The company now has 34 employees, 22 of which have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands backgrounds, but all are from different mobs.
Curijo focuses on recruiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands people, but Belinda says other employees are also from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, and all are embraced.
“We think everybody has something to offer and everybody brings value due to their different personal and professional backgrounds,” she says.
“It’s all about walking the journey together.”
Belinda adds that Curijo operates more like a family.
It was a shared vision between three directors – Belinda, Tina Mcghie and Darren Schaeffer, two of whom are Aboriginal and one who is not – that led to the founding of Curijo.
“Despite these differences, we all wanted the same thing – a company underpinned by the importance of relationships between staff and clients,” says Belinda.
Curijo prides itself on being 68 per cent Aboriginal-owned and Aboriginal controlled.
Belinda says all of the professional services the company offers aim to be culturally safe, and can help organisations in their journey to reconciliation or diversity.
Its two primary practices span internal services – such as audits, planning and governance support, or business strategy development – as well as training for Reconciliation Action Plans, motivational speakers, conferences and community culture education.
Curijo operates on a best-practice, two-way learning philosophy with all of its clients and businesses, and Belinda says they want to do what they can to support people on their journey towards embracing change and diversity.
Alongside private enterprise, Curijo has worked with the Federal Government as well as the NSW and ACT governments and various non-governmental organisations and not-for-profits.
Belinda says the company’s evaluation function is one area in which they see Curijo expanding significantly into the future.
Visit the Curijo website to learn more about the work the company is doing in the community, and to see how its services could benefit your company.