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Strengthening diversity and inclusion

Coles recognises the importance of providing an inclusive environment for its team members and customers that encourages diversity. Launched in September 2017, Coles’ Better Together program aims to promote diversity by creating a supportive and inclusive environment for team members and customers.

The program incorporates five pillars: Accessibility, Gender Balance, Pride, Flexibility and Indigenous.


In June 2018, Coles launched its second Accessibility Action Plan (2018 - 2020) which aims to improve the accessibility of Coles’ stores, sites, workplaces and digital assets for people with disability. The Plan, developed with support from the Australian Network on Disability (AND), makes 16 commitments including expanding Quiet Hour to additional stores, implementing disability awareness training and exploring ways to further improve the accessibility of marketing material.

Over recent years, Coles has implemented many accessibility initiatives including establishing a team dedicated to digital accessibility, modifying car parks in new stores to allow better access and recognising International Day of People with Disability. Coles also participates in AND’s Stepping Into Program, a paid internship scheme that matches university students with disability with roles in Australian businesses.

In FY18, the Coles’ Accessibility Steering Committee completed its first Access and Inclusion Index. Created by AND, the Index measures an organisation’s maturity on the journey towards disability confidence, focusing on 10 key areas: commitment, premises, workplace adjustments, communications and marketing, products and services, information communication technology, recruitment and selection, career development, suppliers and partners, and innovation. The findings helped determine the areas Coles needs to focus on to maximise its impact around disability inclusion for team members and customers.

Gender Balance

When Better Together was launched in 2017, the focus area, Women in Leadership was re-positioned to Gender Balance.

By the end of FY18, 33 per cent of leadership positions at Coles were held by women.

Other FY18 highlights included an eight per cent increase in women in senior leadership positions (General Manager level and above) across Coles, five functions that are in the 'gender balance zone' with at least 40 per cent representation of one gender across leadership positions and progress was also made with women in roles in traditionally male-dominated areas in supply chain and operations.


Coles participated in the Australian Workplace Equality Index in 2017 and was awarded a Bronze Employer status, recognising its actions to improve Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) workplace inclusion. Areas identified for improvement included updating policies to reflect inclusive language, clearly defining the LGBTI strategy and accountability, LGBTI training for team members and participation in community LGBTI events.

In March 2018, Coles supported the annual Big Gay Day celebrations in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. Coles owns the Wickham Hotel where the event is held each year. Coles team members volunteered at the event and Coles also provided a $10,000 donation that was distributed equally to the four Big Gay Day charity partners to support the LGBTI community in Queensland.

On 17 May 2018, Coles recognised International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) across the Coles' businesses. The purpose was to build awareness of the importance of LGBTI inclusion in the workplace and provide team members with an opportunity to join Coles’ Pride Network.


In September 2017, flexibility was launched as a standalone pillar of Better Together to help shift the perception that flexible working was predominantly for working mothers and to recognise that every team member can benefit from flexible working.

Coles offers a Flexible Working Guide and supporting resources to make it easier for team members and their line managers to have conversations about flexible working. It has also established a Flexibility IT Working Group to review and update IT infrastructure to enable team members to work remotely.

Coles also offers paid parental leave for permanent full-time and part-time team members with a minimum of 12 months of continuous service. This includes 12 weeks of paid parental leave for primary care givers and one week of paid leave for secondary care givers.


Coles’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Plan, first launched in 2011, outlines its commitment to provide more opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations to engage with the business. The plan, which aligns with Wesfarmers’ Reconciliation Action Plan, focuses on three key areas – employment, supplier diversity and community engagement.

Coles is one of Australia’s largest corporate sector employers of Indigenous Australians with almost 3,600 Indigenous team members nationally, representing 3.2 per cent of total headcount. This is a significant achievement considering that when the original plan was launched in 2011, there were only 65 Indigenous team members across Coles.

One hundred and seventy of Coles Indigenous Australian team members hold skilled and leadership positions, including 28 store and site managers across Coles supermarkets, Coles Liquor and Coles Express. Retention for Indigenous team members is higher than that for non-Indigenous team members.

Coles also continues to increase opportunities for Indigenous suppliers, with over 40 Indigenous businesses engaged throughout the past year across categories including design, recruitment, professional services, printing, facilities management, liquor and fresh produce.

As part of the implementation of an organisation-wide remote and rural location strategy, formal partnerships have been established with Aboriginal organisations in Broome, Darwin, Kalgoorlie and Kununurra to assist in creating stronger connections to the local community and drive improved employment outcomes.