The founders of an Illawarra business say their recent national award win will give them a "louder voice on a bigger platform" to spread their message of kindness, inclusivity and celebration of First Nations people.
Evolve Communities, a cultural awareness and ally training provider, won the Building Communities gong at the 2024 Telstra Best of Business national awards in February.
The business beat seven other finalists from around the country to claim the honour.
Founders Carla Rogers and Aunty Munya Andrews were thrilled with the win.
"It was incredibly exciting and I just felt very proud of ourselves, Carla and I, that we're two women and we've really arrived on the business stage," Aunty Munya, a Bardi Elder originally from the Kimberley, said.
"Just so humbled and happy that Telstra recognises that... reconciliation and allyship is good business," Ms Rogers said.
"Not just a nice thing to do... It's actually core to good business practice."
Telstra Business group executive Amanda Hutton said Evolve Communities offered a unique model to improve equality in Australia.
"With over 800 leading employers using their services, our judges were impressed by the scale of their impact and the company's commitment to making the world a kinder place," Ms Hutton said.
"Our judges noted the 'no blame, no guilt, no shame' philosophy that allows the program to remain focused on helping Australia move forward culturally with gentleness and kindness."
Ms Rogers said the win was also a validation of their message: that the majority of Australians could "learn from Indigenous wisdom, to be allies for a kinder, more inclusive Australia".
Evolve Communities has expanded its goal of building 10 million allies to making sure half of Australians understand what it means to be an ally to First Nations people within five to 10 years.
Ms Rogers said the win would help accelerate the growth of the business to do this.
"It elevates our status, first and foremost, and it says to people we're a trustworthy brand," Aunty Munya said.
Evolve Communities found itself in the running for the national award after taking out the title at the NSW awards last year.
It was the winner of one of seven categories nationally, rising to the top from over 22,000 applicants.
The business is based in the Illawarra but operates across Australia, with such companies as Woolworths and IBM, government, not-for-profit organisations like Cancer Council NSW, and individuals among its clients.
Ms Rogers thanked the Illawarra for its support, and expressed her "deepest gratitude" to First Nations people, especially the Wodi Wodi people of the Dharawal nation.
"I'd encourage Indigenous people to consider creating a business and working for themselves... really carve out their own destiny," Aunty Munya said.