#IndigBizMonth: How Dixie Crawford is creating change through business
Having experienced the transformative effects of running her own business, Dixie Crawford now wants to use her position to drive positive outcomes for other First Nations peoples.
Today marks the end of the eighth annual Indigenous Business Month, an initiative created by alumni of the MURRA Indigenous Business Program to promote business as a vehicle towards self-determination, a way of providing positive role models for Indigenous Australians and of improving quality of life in Indigenous communities.
For Dixie, founder of Indigenous engagement consultancy Nganya, that mission holds a special meaning.
"For 17 years, I worked for someone else," she says.
"It never truly lit me up, and it became incredibly clear to me that I wouldn't be able to influence and be the change-maker I wanted to be unless I started my own business.
"So that's what I did and that's when Nganya was born."
Nganya supports corporate change-makers to be more conscious, curious and courageous in their leadership and the collaborations they initiate with Aboriginal communities.
"We provide stakeholder engagement, masterclasses, executive coaching, and the design, implementation, and monitoring of Reconciliation Action Plans," Dixie says.
"Our focus is not on just doing the work, but on building the capability of organisations to have greater clarity, confidence and connection to the work they do in partnership with Aboriginal communities."
Creating impact on a personal level
Herself an alum of the MURRA Indigenous Business Program, Dixie now wants to help other black businesswomen pursue their dreams and ensure her actions have a positive impact on future generations.
"I'm following in the footsteps of strong women before me, determined to create a path for jarjums that follow me," she says.
"Aboriginal business is collective – our focus is on contributing to community and creating employment opportunities. Personal wealth is secondary."
Alongside regular donations to organisations including the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation, The Glen, Deadly Science and Mudgin-gal, Dixie uses her skills, knowledge, experience and networks to create solutions, mentor and connect the right people.
"I’m a mentor in the Canberra Women in Business Mentoring Program and Indigenous business advocate as a board member of the Canberra Indigenous Business Network," she says.
"We also fund the Brewarrina Girls Club, nurturing positive relationships between young Aboriginal women and local police, and Project Walwaay aimed at reducing Aboriginal youth incarceration in Dubbo."
Along with owning a successful business, Dixie recently became the second Indigenous woman to be appointed to a cricket board in Australia when she became a member of the Cricket ACT Board.
Cricket is a sport that Aboriginal people and communities have a long history and association with. The first Australian cricket team visited England in 1868 and included 13 Aboriginal men from the western district of Victoria.
"I'm honoured to be able to continue that legacy with my appointment," Dixie says.
Moving from good intentions to outcomes
As someone who specialises in helping organisations engage with Indigenous communities, Dixie is wary of the seemingly empty promises that are often made, but fail to translate into meaningful action.
"First Nations communities are the most over-consulted communities in Australia, yet for all the consultation and promises, they receive the least and very rarely benefit from any outcomes," she says.
"When it comes to working in cultural awareness, leadership development and capability training, Aboriginal engagement, and the development and implementation of Reconciliation Action Plans, I meet many people with good intentions – however good intentions don't create impactful outcomes.
"We must commit to meaningful action, and we must then ensure those actions are held to account and measured to identify the impact. If there is no impact, the action has failed."
Dixie also believes Indigenous business leaders have a role to play in improving knowledge around the value and benefit of black business.
"I think the current generation of Indigenous business leaders must continue to lead change within our communities and bring corporate Australia along, as they have a role to play in achieving equity for mob," she says.
"We need to use our lived experiences, personally and professionally, to challenge ideas and the way 'it's always been done'. In doing this, we lay the foundations for the next generation, and hopefully they commence their journey further down the path than we did.
"The time to act is now."
For more information, visit the Indigenous Business Month website.