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  • Diversity and Inclusion

    Spark continues to make good progress in delivering diversity and inclusion initiatives, with a focus on growing more balanced gender representation at senior levels and improving our cultural identity/awareness.

    As one of New Zealand's leading employers we believe that 'inclusion' should be hardwired into what we do and something that everyone at Spark understands. The wide range of ethnicities and generations that make up our talented workforce helps to create an inclusive culture.

    We support several employee-led networks including:

    • EmpowerED - a platform to unleash the potential of aspirational women at Spark 
    • Te Āhika - building our people's capability in a MaÃÑori business environment 
    • Spark Pride - embracing the diversity of our LGBTQI+ community and our partnership with OutlineNZ 
    • Head First - creating a mentally healthy workplace 
    • Blue Heart Programme - leading diversity and inclusion from the heart 
    • Recognition and celebration of significant cultural events was another primary focus for FY18 which included: 
    • Diwali 
    • Chinese (Lunar) New Year 
    • ANZAC Day 
    • Matariki and Te Wiki o Te Reo MaÃÑori 
    • Eid al-Fitr 
    • NZ Sign Language Week 
    • Chinese Language Week 
    • Samoan Language Week 
    • Cook Island Language Week

    Leading from the heart

    In 2017 we commissioned a gender diversity report to gain qualitative feedback on the impact of our diversity and inclusion programme. The results of this showed while we had undertaken a number of successful initiatives to change systems and processes, many of our people still didn’t feel we were focused enough on the ‘inclusion’ side of the equation.

    This issue was addressed in a speech by the Managing Director in September 2017 about facing up to our “uncomfortable truths” about inclusion within the company. We have since rolled out a programme specifically focused on ensuring all our people feel included and comfortable bringing their ‘whole selves’ to work. This means tackling behaviours, values and addressing gender diversity and other cultural biases.

    One major initiative involved inviting all Spark people to make the ‘Blue Heart Pledge’, which is an individual’s personal commitment to supporting diversity and inclusion. We believe leading with hearts as well as minds is a critical part of encouraging an inclusive environment at Spark. We’ve chosen a blue heart as our visual icon because – for us – it is symbolic of the ‘blue culture’ we want to build where achievement, self-awareness, encouragement and collaboration are tools we use every day. And in the world of emojis (the language of mobile) a blue heart means trust, harmony, peace and loyalty. By the end of FY18, 2,704 people had signed a Blue Heart pledge, including all members of the Board and the Leadership Squad – and we expect this number to grow in the coming months.

    Women in Leadership

    Spark once again celebrated International Women's Day by inviting inspirational New Zealand women to share their stories and insights at offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. Visibility of women in leadership is encouraged through initiatives like EmpoweRED, a platform to unleash the potential of aspirational women at Spark. The series is made up of TED-style talks and panel discussions where women and men at Spark can ask leaders the hard questions, as well as providing opportunities for mentorship and networking.

    Champions of Change

    At Spark, diversity in leadership is encouraged at all levels of the organisation. The Board has led by example by achieving a 50:50 gender diversity split and continues to promote women in leadership at Spark. Both Managing Director Simon Moutter and Board Chair Justine Smyth are members of Champions for Change, a group of New Zealand leaders from across the public and private sectors who are committed to raising the value of diversity and inclusion within their organisations. By fully embracing the vision of Champions for Change, Spark will enjoy the benefits of unleashing the potential of all New Zealanders and creating:

    • A united, diverse and inclusive workforce; 
    • 'Inclusion' firmly embedded into Spark culture; 
    • Visible leadership and sponsorship; and 
    • Partnerships with organisations who share the same values and commitment to inclusion.


    Spark’s ongoing commitment to our Pride community was demonstrated by the #thankstoyou campaign, part of the Auckland Pride 2018 festival.

    In 2017 Spark committed to our people that we would be an active and supportive member and ally of the Rainbow Community internally and externally. The 2018 #thankstoyou campaign was the opportunity to demonstrate that commitment, both to Spark employees and to the rest of New Zealand. It acknowledged the historic efforts of individuals and organisations within the Rainbow Community, which mean younger generations can now grow up in a country that is more accepting, loving and respectful. It included the creation of a video, which went viral across New Zealand, and the announcement of a three-year strategic partnership with OUTLine (a confidential telephone support and face-to-face counselling service available to the LGBTQI+ community and their families and friends).

    In 2018 Spark once again took part in the Auckland Pride Parade, with a large float and senior executive participation. This event and the #thankstoyou campaign were widely communicated internally as a way for Spark people to celebrate and get involved.

    In 2017, Spark was the first company in New Zealand’s telecommunications sector to achieve the Rainbow Tick certification and we have maintained this accreditation over the FY18 year.

    Implementing tikanga and kawa in the workplace

    Spark’s vision for our Māori business strategy is kanohi kitea – for our people to be seen, connected and empowered. Our mission is to become trusted advisors, enabling intergenerational digital solutions through amazing technology. Our purpose is awhinatia ngā tangata katoa o Aotearoa, kia matomato te tipu i tea o matihiko – To help all New Zealanders so that they may grow, stand strong and be successful in the digital world.

    The strategy endeavours to build a relationship between Spark and the

    Māori community and economy to effect change and become a driver for cultural, economic and social growth through meaningful partnerships and digital platforms.

    The overall strategy is underpinned by Spark-translated values as guides. They are whakamana (To empower), māia (Courage & Bravery), matomato (To flourish), tūhono (To connect).

    A snapshot of progress to date includes:

    • Spark is one of three corporate organisations identified as an ‘exemplar’ for use of Māori language (as traditionally non-speaking domains) and chosen to participate in a 12-month research project ‘Subjective Motivation’ conducted by Te Kotahi Research Institute via Te Taura Whiri;
    • The launch of Kupu with Te Aka Māori dictionary and Google. Kupu is really easy to use. Users simply take a picture, Kupu will then use image recognition to identify what the object is in the picture and provide Te Reo Māori translations for the object(s).
    • Sponsorship of the first Māori Business Accelerator Programme Kōkiri, in partnership with Te Wananga o Aotearoa;
    • Winning the business of a major Māori tertiary institution and drawing up a strategic partnership;
    • Hei Tauawhi Cultural Education Programme – educating a cross-functional pool of our people on the basics of tikanga Māori and te reo Māori;
    • He nui anō te iti – Little can be huge advertising relaunch voiced in te reo Māori
    • Translation of customer iNet Promote Score (iNPS) survey to te reo Māori;
    • Internal Tuia te ao Māori Culture and Language mobile application launched for Spark people to incorporate Māori customs into work life;
    • Māori Agribusiness Strategy underway;
    • Spark waiata launch – Manaakitia ngā iwi katoa – written and composed by Spark’s Te Arepa Morehu (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei);
    • Four pōwhiri performed with large FTE (~650) engagement across four of our main offices;
    • Matariki video released in te reo Māori, most shared video ever posted on the Spark Facebook page with over 5000 shares.
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