Building Inclusion: Empowering Indigenous voices and finding allyship through education

Jane Merrick, Vyvy Truong, and Kelly Woods are local leaders of the Intuit Indigenous Peoples Network (IIPN) employee resource group who are committed to amplifying Indigenous voices in their local communities.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to Intuit.

Jane Merrick (Intuit Australia): Two years ago I decided to move into the tech space, and this opportunity with Intuit came along—I haven’t looked back since! We have such a fantastic and inspiring team. I love coming to work every day to help small businesses and advisor customers solve their problems. Intuit is also an incredibly supportive, employee-first organization.

Vyvy Truong (Intuit Toronto): After being in the talent acquisition industry for 6 years, I was ready to hang up the recruitment towel when I was left unemployed during the pandemic in 2020.

My current manager reached out to me on LinkedIn and mentioned that he was new to the Canadian market and was looking to build out his team. From the time he messaged me, to interviewing, to receiving the offer, it took only 2 weeks. What ultimately brought me to Intuit was how transparent, passionate, and thoughtful the interview process was. If this was the experience I was receiving as a candidate, it’d be a good reflection of how the overall company operated. 

Kelly Woods (Intuit Toronto): I’m currently the manager of our HR Performance team, and I’ve been with Intuit’s HR Connect team for just over 10 years. I came to Intuit after a friend of mine started talking about this amazing company she worked for and mentioned they had some open roles (and I’ve never looked back). 

What inspired you to take on a leadership role with the Intuit Indigenous Peoples Network (IIPN)?

JM: I grew up in an outback regional town in Australia and have always felt connected to the land. I’ve also worked in some amazing organizations where the importance of the Australian Indigenous culture and the journey to reconciliation was very mature. It was part of the DNA of the business. When I arrived at Intuit, I saw all the incredible global work being done in other markets representing different cultural groups. However, there was an absence of this in Australia. So I, and a few other like-minded people around the business, felt we needed to change that. In February of this year, we launched our first local IIPN chapter. We have 3 pillars—Education and Awareness, Celebration and Recognition of Cultural Moments, and the development of a RAP for Intuit AU (Reconciliation Action Plan).

VT: Looking through the lens of Talent Acquisition and how Indigenous talent is recruited, I learned that Indigenous talent (especially in tech) only holds 1.2% of Canada’s population, with most of them being students or in early careers. 

Although I am not Indigenous myself, I saw there was a lack of initiative and leadership to push the needle forward for Indigenous folks and communities within Toronto. There’s an ongoing assumption that you have to identify as Indigenous to participate in IIPN, though that’s not the case. My hope is to bring Intuit employees on this learning journey, build stronger relationships with non-profit Indigenous communities, and make progress involving more Indigenous representation in the tech industry throughout Toronto.

KW: I come from the traditional territories of the Haudenousaunee (Ho-de-no-sau-nee-ga), Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗ, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Mississauga, and Wendake-Nionwentsio, also known as Tkaronto (Mohawk word for “where there are trees standing in the water”) and commonly known as Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I was deeply affected by the stories shared by residential school survivors in Canada. Their stories inspired me to learn more about the Indigenous community and how I can be a better ally.

Tell us what Indigenous representation looks like in your community and what it means to the local IIPN chapter.

JM: National Aborigines’ and Islanders’ Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week is an Australian observance lasting from the first Sunday in July until the following Sunday. It is a celebration of Indigenous culture and a big tentpole event for the year.

This was the first year Intuit AU celebrated NAIDOC Week. Over the week, we had a number of activities centered around our 3 pillars. We shared information on the origin of the week, highlighted some Indigenous role models, and organised a guest speaker to share their story with our team. The biggest highlight was the unveiling of a bespoke piece of artwork. The art piece is reflective of our values at Intuit and our mission to power prosperity. It’s absolutely beautiful and is now permanently ‌displayed in the office’s foyer.

VT: June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada, where we recognize the rich history, heritage, resilience, and diversity of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Toronto IIPN wanted to reflect on our shared history, the ongoing legacy of colonization, and its impacts on Indigenous peoples. As we embarked on this journey, we wanted to commit ourselves and the site to learn, listen, and take action to support Indigenous communities and their rights. 
KW: This year, our Toronto chapter focused on land acknowledgements, significant Indigenous people in Canadian history, and cultural appropriation. We also provided various ways individuals could amplify Indigenous voices in their communities. We received great responses from employees this year and it has sparked great conversations.

What advice would you give to someone looking to be an ally to the IIPN?

JM: Take the first step and lean in. We are all on this journey together, and there is so much to understand and learn. For Australia, this is an important time as, later this year, there will be a nationwide referendum proposing changes to our Constitution enabling an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The Voice would advise the Australian Parliament and Government on matters relating to the social, spiritual, and economic wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It’s a moment in history for us all.

VT: As a non-Indigenous person, acknowledge and recognize that everyone has a basic right to human dignity, respect, and equal access to resources. We need to recognize that many of us have the privileges that settler cultures have and can take for granted. Being an ally and advocate for the Indigenous community will be a learning experience to work towards breaking down these barriers and will require social action, strength, humility, and courage.

KW: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’re all learning new things every day. Asking questions shows that you’re curious and open to learning new things, which is key in becoming an ally. 

Take action and speak up! Educating yourself is a wonderful first step, but being an ally also means you need to find ways to support and amplify voices in the community. For instance, if you hear someone use a word/phrase that’s harmful to Indigenous peoples, take the time to speak to them to share why it’s harmful and offer an alternative. To see change, we can’t stay silent.

August 9 is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. What does this moment mean to you and to the IIPN?

JM: Aboriginal people are known to have occupied mainland Australia for at least 65,000 years—it’s the oldest living culture in the world. For us, this will be an opportunity to continue to raise awareness and understand what it means to be Indigenous in Australia. This is also a chance to specifically focus on youth, as we support the global theme of Indigenous youth as agents of change.

VT: Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, their way of life, and their right to traditional lands, territories, and natural resources for years. International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is a powerful reminder to further our education and awareness and ultimately increase our resources to address a marginalized group that makes up 5% of the world’s population and accounts for 15% of the poorest from a global perspective. 

IIPN will continue to cultivate awareness of, learn from, support, and enrich opportunities for Indigenous people by uniting through community, allyship, and advocacy.

KW: For me, it’s a moment to reflect and learn about Indigenous people around the world. Many of us are still early in our learning journey and that is okay. Research some local Indigenous-owned businesses, begin your next team meeting with a land acknowledgement, or educate yourself on the words or practices that might be harmful to Indigenous Peoples.  

You are probably going to make some mistakes along the way (I know I have) but it’s what you learn from those mistakes and how you move forward that matters. 


At Intuit, we’re passionate about making sure that everyone can show up as their authentic self at work. Through ERGs like the Intuit Indigenous Peoples Network, we’re able to foster a sense of connection, empathy, and trust between employees. 

If you are interested in joining our team, check out Intuit’s careers page


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