Our people

Employing outstanding people and providing opportunities for them to apply their talents is critical to our sustainability. 

While strong assets and strategies are important, it is through the efforts of our people that we deliver results. 

Who we are and where we work

The majority of our workforce is located in Australia and New Zealand (see table below) and our 205,000 employees worked more than 221 million hours this year. As in any year, employee numbers change through restructures and growth. This year, we saw a net increase of more than 4,000 employees. One restructure that received publicity was in our Target store support office in Geelong (Vic), which reduced the headcount by 260 employees and contractors to better position that business. As with all restructures involving employee reductions, redeployment opportunities were sought, and where unsuccessful, redundancy packages and outplacement services were provided.

Wesfarmers is committed to continually improving the attraction, development and retention of talented people. We do this by providing great job opportunities, rewards for good performance, and safe working environments. Wesfarmers recognises the importance of being an inclusive employer, because a diverse workforce delivers significant social and commercial value.

We support an inclusive and non-discriminatory culture through Group-wide policies and processes, including our internal Equal Employment Opportunity Policy, and our Code of Conduct which is available on our website.

Employee numbers by location


Gender diversity

Overall, the Group has a gender balanced workforce, made up of 57 per cent women and 43 per cent men. The Group’s key challenge is to increase the number of women in leadership positions. The Wesfarmers Diversity Policy outlines four core objectives which are used to measure performance in this area. Specific targets are linked to senior executive key performance objectives under an annual incentive plan. With a diverse portfolio of businesses and industries, Wesfarmers divisions have developed specific gender diversity plans in line with the Group policy which are tailored to take account of the specific circumstances of their division. 

This year, our divisions have made significant progress against our four key objectives:

  • foster an inclusive culture;
  • improve talent management;
  • enhance recruitment practices; and
  • ensure pay equity.

Details of our progress can be found in the corporate governance statement on page 71 of the 2013 Wesfarmers Annual Report.

In the coming year, all divisions will continue to work to improve gender diversity in a variety of ways. These include continued improvement of diversity in pipelines to leadership positions, identification of internal talent and retention of senior women. 

details of female rep

Insurance puts spotlight on women in leadership

Insurance puts the spotlight on women in leadership

In line with Wesfarmers’ commitment to diversity, the Insurance division aims to provide an environment where our people can grow and develop to reach their full potential, regardless of gender or background.

During the year, the female participation rate at general manager level and above in our Insurance division increased from 12 per cent to 19 per cent. This result is encouraging, but there is more work to do.

Since the inaugural event in October 2012, the division runs an annual program of Women in Leadership workshops across Australia and New Zealand. These events feature interactive debate, executive team participation and a keynote address by a female leader from within the Wesfarmers Group.

Women in Leadership events inspire male and female attendees alike to take personal responsibility for their careers, adopt a diverse and balanced approach when recruiting team members and encourage ongoing local networking.

Evolving people policies, mentoring programs and leadership development initiatives are also continuing to help redress the imbalance of women in leadership positions within the Insurance division


Working together to support Aboriginal employment in WA

Working together to support Aboriginal employment in WA

As Australia’s largest private sector employer, Wesfarmers recognises its unique potential to have a significant, positive impact on Aboriginal employment, particularly in regional communities.

In order to foster divisional expertise and collaboration on Aboriginal employment, this year Wesfarmers piloted a multi-retail division Aboriginal employment program. Bunnings, Coles, Kmart, Officeworks and Target joined together to provide 10 permanent part-time career opportunities for Aboriginal people in the Kwinana area near Perth (WA).

With support from the Australian Government Indigenous Employment Program, ten Aboriginal job seekers completed a three-week pre-employment training program. This training included personal development and retail skills, store tours and work experience. Wesfarmers store and complex managers also completed cultural awareness training as part of the program. Ten new team members commenced employment in early June 2013 and will be mentored for their first six months.

In addition to providing sustainable employment opportunities to local Aboriginal community members, the program provided an opportunity for existing Wesfarmers team members to learn about local Aboriginal communities, and make personal local connections. 

Workplace relations

We recognise the right of those we employ to negotiate either individually or collectively, with or without the involvement of third parties. Approximately 90 per cent of our workforce is covered by collective agreements. Wesfarmers also believes in maximising the flexibility of workplace arrangements available to employees and their managers. 

Investing in our people

Given the autonomous nature of our Group operating structure, training and development is a core responsibility of the business units. Our recorded commitment to training and development was nearly 2.5 million hours across the Group. In addition, key human capital development policies and practices, including those focused on senior management remuneration, development and succession planning, are managed at a Group level.

Innovation is also important to the success of our businesses. If our people continually innovate, providing better products, services or solutions for our customers, sustainable growth will be generated.

Wesfarmers seeks to develop a culture that encourages the boldness and creativity necessary to drive innovation. One example of this encouragement is our Innovation Awards program. This Group-wide initiative focuses on five areas: environment, customer, commercial, safety and people. There has been an excellent response from our businesses to these awards, with the entries reflecting a high level of innovation quality. 

As part of a long-standing practice to increase alignment throughout the Group, the biennial Wesfarmers Leadership Conference will be once again convened in September 2014. The conference brings together up to 400 senior leaders from across the Group and provides an opportunity to reinforce expectations for our leadership culture, introduce key leadership insights and opportunities for growth, share best practices across the businesses, and recognise the Innovation Award winners.

Health and safety 

We value the health and safety in the workplace of everyone who works for our company, our visitors and customers. To this end, we recently completed a Group-wide review of our health and safety performance, benchmarking our performance, leadership and initiatives against global best performance. In recognising the diversity of our divisions, each division is required to develop its own targeted improvement plan to continue to embed sustainable healthy and safe behaviours across the Group. 

During the year, there were 1,988 lost time injuries (LTIs) across the Group and 9,773 total recordable injuries (TRIs), which include LTIs and medical treatment injuries. The Group total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) increased three per cent from 42.7 to 43.9. This is largely attributable to the use of broader consistent definitions of ‘total recordable injury’ and an improved reporting culture as we move to using TRIFR as our primary lag measure across the Group. The lost time injury frequency rate at year end has decreased to 8.9 compared to 10.9 the previous year, an improvement of 18 per cent. The number of workers’ compensation claims has decreased from 9,380 in 2012 to 8,796 this year. 

We continue to believe that greater safety performance is both possible and necessary. From the coming year, there is a stretch target of 20 per cent reduction in TRIFR. We recognise that a stronger focus on lead indicators drives a sustainable healthy and safe culture. With the diversity of the Group, operating businesses are implementing a range of lead measures to promote a more proactive approach and support a culture of safe and healthy work practices which will drive sustainable performance improvement.

To meet the ongoing challenges of creating a safe and healthy environment for all the people in our workplaces, there has been significant investment in programs across the Group which have resulted in positive change. These investments have been in capital expenditure, competency and culture. Some highlights included:

  • Addressing one of its highest causes of injury, Bunnings achieved a 20 per cent reduction in hand lacerations through the introduction of new campaigns and initiatives encouraging its team to ‘glove up and BSAFE’.
  • Coles Express implemented its National Safety Night Program, with senior managers visiting a significant number of metro and regional sites during night shifts to recognise and show appreciation for safe and healthy workplace behaviour and to hold refresher talks on the management of key risks.
  • Coles Logistics, recognising the value of working up the supply chain, is working with two key suppliers on the glues that secure cartons on pallets to reduce the forces required to remove cartons in order to reduce manual handling injuries. 
  • Our Insurance division is leading the Group in a motor vehicle safety project, encompassing a review of best practice around work-related road safety and the development of a road safety program that will be made available to other divisions. 
  • Both Officeworks and the Resources division extended their health and safety campaign for employees to include holiday time. For example, the Officeworks ‘Stay Safe this Summer’ video has been viewed on more than 5,400 occasions.

The safety outcomes of our business units, and the Group data, can be found in the Databank.

Reconciliation Action Plan

Wesfarmers has had a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) since 2009. Our RAP outlines the measurable actions to which we are committed across the Group to ensure that Aboriginal people feel welcome in our businesses as employees, customers, suppliers and visitors. Our commitments relate to Aboriginal employment and business engagement, staff volunteering and community investment. Our full report against the actions identified in our 2013 RAP and our 2014 RAP can be found under the ‘Community and Sustainability’ section on our website.

Wesfarmers has committed to publicly reporting Aboriginal employee numbers annually. In previous years, most divisions identified Aboriginal employees by way of an anonymous survey. Four divisions are currently transitioning from anonymous surveys to identifying Aboriginal team members at the commencement of employment on their employee databases. This improvement in data collection will allow divisions to better monitor Aboriginal employee retention and development in future. However, this change in reporting methods means that current and previous years’ Aboriginal employee data are not directly comparable. 

Current data suggests Aboriginal employees make up nearly 0.7 per cent of our total Australian workforce. Our ultimate objective is to have a workforce that reflects the communities in which we operate, with 2.5 per cent Aboriginal representation based on current numbers.

Wesfarmers continues to support Aboriginal communities by providing skilled secondees, through our partnership with Jawun Indigenous Corporate Partnerships (Jawun). Since 2009, we have seconded 59 team members, totalling 1,423 business days. This year, 11 senior managers attended multi-day community immersions hosted by Jawun, to learn more about the issues Aboriginal communities face. Seven of our Board members have now participated in these community immersion trips.

aboriginal employee numbers



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