More women are being promoted or hired into leadership positions but the situation remains dire around ethnic diversity particularly among Māori and Pacific people.
The annual diversify report by the Champions for Change found across the 39 organisations involved the group is close to achieving its target of between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of women in management positions.
The 40 per cent minimum was currently being met for non-managers, other managers and senior managers although gains at the top end - key management personnel - were modest.
At the board level the group which includes 115,000 employees was only one woman short of hitting the 40 per cent minimum.
But it found diversity in terms of ethnic representation at most levels in the organisations continues to be a persistent challenge, particularly for Māori and Pacific peoples.
While New Zealand Europeans make up around 62 per cent of the working population they dominated at a board level with 90 per cent of the 29 organisations that supplied data.
NZ Europeans also made up more than 80 per cent of those at a key management and executive management level.
Justine Smyth, co-chair of the Champions for Change and chairwoman of Spark said it was only the second year that ethnicity data had been collected and the results showed this remained a persistent challenge.
"There is still much work to be done."
She said the ethnicity challenge was a matter of both participation and distribution of power. But the Champions had now made increasing Maori and ethnic diversity a clearly stated key area of focus.
On the gender front the results showed the Champions were leading the way when it came to most international comparisons and were also well ahead of the NZX50 listed companies.
But digging deeper showed its success as a collective was uneven with two concerning trends emerging - a power gap and a participation gap.
Companies with a power gap have more female workers overall but a gender imbalance at the top showing women are not being promoted or hired into as much as men. While the participation gap meant some organisations had lower levels of women across their workforce.
The finance and insurance sector is one industry with a power gap with women being in two-thirds of non-management roles but only one third of management suggesting that men were more likely to be promoted or hired into management roles.
Antonia Watson, chief executive of ANZ New Zealand, one of the Champions for Change members, said one of the reasons for the power gap in the sector was that a lot of the roles at a more junior level offered a lot more flexibility.
"They are very appealing to women."
It also had parts of the business like technology, risk and institutional banking where there were fewer women in the lower ranks and that then flowed into management positions.
"In the retail part of the business we are well into 40s in female representation in leadership but those other parts of the business... we have still got the existing workforce so a lot of it is about bringing in the right people at the bottom and moving them up the organisation."
Watson said it had offered flexibility across the business since 2015 but more people were taking it up since Covid.
It had also changed its recruitment policy for graduates to blind recruitment where in the initial stages the person's school, academic history, gender and ethnicity was kept hidden.
ANZ in Australia had been using that process for a number of years and been successful in getting more women through and Watson hoped that would be the case here too.
Her advice to others trying to shift the dial was to have a laser focus on change.
"Review your policies, review the way you recruit to make sure you don't have unconscious bias. Make sure you have got the policies that then retain the people in the workplace, especially through that - the one thing women do is they have the children and making sure that people see there is a career for someone that wants to take a bit of time."
Asked what it would take to get more Māori and Pacific people into management, Watson said it needed the same type of focus that gender had received in recent years.
"The people are there, they can lead and we are seeing good examples in iwi organisations. We just need to bring it to the corporate world as well."
Watson said ANZ had been supporting ethnicity initiatives from Global Women and Champions for Change.
"But I cannot sit here and say we have nailed it. We do look more actively at how we can develop leaders from the various ethnicities but it has not been the focus that gender has been yet but it is very much something that we are turning our minds to."