Spark New Zealand a big believer in Pink Shirt Day
With just under 5,000 staff members around Aotearoa, telecommunications company Spark is one of New Zealand’s largest organisations.
We spoke with Rhonda Koroheke, Human Resources Diversity and Inclusion Lead, about why Spark is choosing to stand up against bullying and celebrate Pink Shirt Day this year.
“We see bullying and discrimination in any form as totally inappropriate behaviour...We won't tolerate anyone who chooses to be unkind to somebody that isn’t like them.”
“We have such a large organisation and you can't say that we are perfect, but we're certainly working very hard to ensure that our people have a safe working environment and that they feel that they can come to work and be able to do a fantastic job because they're fully engaged, because they feel like they belong. That they've got colleagues and teams of cohorts that they work with that are going to be supportive of them, regardless of where they come from, their sexual preferences, or their religious beliefs. That they feel like they're accepted.”
A key part of creating this culture, Rhonda emphasises, is making sure that if problems do arise, people feel safe to speak up.
“People are very quick to put their hand up and say I'm not feeling comfortable. Or others will step in and say ‘look, we can tell something's not right, what's going on in your world? How can we help?’ So that's the sort of culture we're trying hard to create here.”
Spark is encouraging all staff across their nationwide operation to take part in the organisation’s Pink Shirt Day events.
“Right across the entire company we will send out communications reminding people that it's on - ‘here are a list of events coming up, here's how you can get involved, here's how you can donate.’
“We’re inviting a speaker to run a number of things such as Diversi-tea Kōrero Starter Card morning teas, and we’re running some fun events in each of our main centres, where people will wear pink t-shirts and have competitions to see who's got the loudest and brightest pink shirt.
“In previous years, we found that people really got involved. I mean, the number of pink shirts you'll see walking around on that day!” Rhonda says.
Spark’s Pink Shirt Day kaupapa goes hand-in-hand with the other workplace wellbeing initiatives they run throughout the year, including their ‘blue hearts’ initiative.
“If you wear a blue hat on your lanyard, or on your shirt, it demonstrates your commitment to creating a really inclusive organisation. Our leaders all go through a module around ensuring blue heart behaviours, which is all about being affirmative, being courageous, and having courageous conversations.
“We work in a really fast-paced, tense environment and so we need to ensure that we have the right mechanisms in place to make sure people's wellness is well looked after. That all goes hand-in-hand with people feeling like they belong.”
When speaking to other organisations curious about Pink Shirt Day, Rhonda is eager to encourage them to get involved.
“It’s such a noble cause, it's a fantastic initiative. I think it's really important that New Zealanders get behind it.
“We always get behind Pink Shirt Day because it's about creating a safe place for people to really express themselves and feel like that's part of their home. If they love coming to work, feel safe and welcome here, and as a bonus do a fantastic job - why wouldn't you create that environment?”
Every year, one in 10 workers in Aotearoa report being bullied in the workplace. By celebrating Pink Shirt Day or fundraising for the kaupapa, your workplace becomes part of the movement to end bullying, celebrate diversity and spread aroha and kindness.
Keen to get your workplace involved in Pink Shirt Day this year? Download our Workplace Bullying Prevention Resource focused on how to create a positive workplace environment where mana-enhancing, open communication is the norm so bullying cannot thrive. For more ideas on how to bring Pink Shirt Day to your workplace, head here, and for ideas on how your workplace can fundraise for Pink Shirt Day, head here.