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Diversity and inclusion


At Spark, we want every employee to feel valued, respected and confident to bring their whole self to work. We want to develop a culture that has diversity and inclusion at its heart.

This is reflected in Spark’s purpose: To help all of New Zealand win big in a digital world.

Āwhinatia ngā tāngata katoa o Aotearoa kia matomato te tipu i te ao matihiko

To help all of New Zealand grow, stand strong and thrive in a digital world. It’s also reflected in Spark’s adoption of Agile ways of working, which relies on creating diverse teams that can use their different backgrounds, perspectives, experiences and skills to solve complex customer problems. Collaboration by diverse teams is what creates magic.


Spark’s Blue Heart programme was launched to inspire everyone at Spark to be more inclusive in everything that they do, to celebrate the diversity within the organisation, to ensure that everyone has a voice, and to lead diversity and inclusion ‘from the heart’. This programme operates as an umbrella across a number of focused initiatives at Spark, including: 

  • The Blue Heart pledge – inviting employees to make a personal commitment to supporting diversity and inclusion
  • Celebration of cultural events – through employee-led events and communications
  • Champions for Change – to raise the value of diversity and inclusion across organisations in the public and private sector
  • EmpowerED – a platform to support women in leadership and unleash the potential of aspirational women at Spark
  • Spark Pride – embracing the diversity of our LGBTQI+ community and our partnership with OUTLine NZ
  • Māori Strategy – building our people’s capability in a Māori business environment

The Blue Heart Pledge

Spark’s symbol for its diversity and inclusion programme is a blue heart, chosen as a symbol to represent that Spark has a ‘heart-led’ approach to diversity and inclusion. We want to build a ‘blue culture’, where achievement, self-awareness, encouragement and collaboration are tools we use every day. In the world of emojis (the language of mobile), a blue heart means trust, harmony, peace and loyalty.

At last count, about 3,000 Spark people, including all members of the Board and the Leadership Squad, have made a pledge to uphold the values of diversity and inclusion with their own personal commitment.  

Celebration of cultural events

Celebrations of significant cultural events are created and led by passionate Spark people. The company provides funding and support for our people to celebrate and share their own culture with the rest of the organisation. Celebrations have been organised by our people, for our people, and now include:

  • Diwali
  • Chinese (Lunar) New Year
  • ANZAC Day
  • Matariki and Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori
  • Eid al-Fitr
  • NZ Sign Language Week
  • Chinese Language Week
  • Samoan Language Week
  • Cook Island Language Week

Champions for Change

Spark's CEO, Jolie Hodson 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 awareness about the business value of diversity and inclusion within their organisations, and advocating for progress across all New Zealand workplaces. Champions come together to share challenges, solutions and achievements. As well as spearheading collective initiatives, our two Spark Champions for Change lead specific workstreams that impact significant change within our organisation and across Aotearoa.

EmpowerED and women in leadership

At Spark, diversity in leadership is encouraged at all levels of the organisation. Spark’s Board leads by example by having strong representation of women, and continues to promote women in leadership at Spark. In 2018, Spark launched revised flexible working and parental leave policies to help support women at Spark, and also developed a new remuneration structure to better support pay parity.

Visibility of women in senior roles 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 provide opportunities for mentorship and networking.

Spark celebrated International Women’s Day in 2018 by inviting inspirational New Zealand women to share their stories and insights at offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. 

Rainbow Tick

In 2017, Spark was the first company in New Zealand’s telecommunications sector to achieve the Rainbow Tick certification, which it has maintained. It also made a commitment to be an active and supportive member, and an ally of the Rainbow Community both internally and externally.

The 2018 #thankstoyou campaign was an 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. OUTLine is a confidential telephone support and face-to-face counselling service available to the LGBTQI+ community and their families and friends.

Implementing Tikanga and kawa in the workplace

Spark’s vision for our Māori 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 Āwhinatia ngā tāngata katoa o Aotearoa kia matomato te tipu i te ao matihiko: To help all of New Zealand grow, stand strong and thrive in a digital world.

Spark is building a relationship with the Māori community to effect change and become a driver for cultural, economic and social growth through meaningful partnerships and digital platforms – and we’re proud of the progress made so far.  

Spark has: 

  • Been identified as an ‘exemplar’ for use of Māori language (as traditionally non-speaking domains), which enabled its participation in a 12-month research project ‘Subjective Motivation’ conducted by Te Kotahi Research Institute via Te Taura Whiri
  • Provided sponsorship of the first Māori Business Accelerator Programme Kōkiri, in partnership with Te Wananga o Aotearoa
  • Participated in Hei Tauawhi Cultural Education Programme – a pilot scheme to educate some Spark people on the basics of tikanga Māori and te reo Māori
  • Created an internal Tuia te ao Māori Culture and Language mobile application launched for Spark people to incorporate Māori customs into every day work life
  • Launched the company’s own waiata – Manaakitia ngā iwi katoa, written and composed by Spark’s Te Arepa Morehu (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei)
  • Released a 2018 Matariki video in te reo Māori, which was the most shared video ever posted on the Spark Facebook page with over 5000 shares
  • Together with Te Aka Māori Dictionary, launched Kupu, an award winning interactive mobile app that helps people learn Te Reo Māori translations by exploring the objects around them. From a cell phone image, Kupu uses image recognition to identify what the object is in the picture and provide Te Reo Māori translations for the object(s).


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