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Gender balance

While our workforce is balanced with 54 per cent of our team members female, there is room to strengthen the gender balance in management roles. 'Gender balance' means that teams have a minimum of 40 per cent of any gender and at this time 28 per cent of senior management roles are held by women. 

Building a more gender-balanced business that appreciates and caters to the different strengths, preferences and needs of different team members and different customers is a source of competitive advantage. A more gender balanced business helps enable us to deliver on our objective of satisfactory returns to shareholders.

Our board of non-executive directors comprises three women and six men. There is an opportunity to improve at the senior executive and management/professional level where women hold 28 per cent and 34 per cent of positions, respectively.

Wesfarmers supports its divisions to build a gender-balanced workforce in a number of ways. In 2018, independent external gender audits identified opportunities to improve gender balance. Wesfarmers’ has developed its own gender tool kit which is a resource to help our businesses identify opportunities to better harness the strength of male and female talent and capture the business opportunities by better catering to both genders across our customer base. The launch of a Wesfarmers cross-divisional Gender Balance Working Group, sponsored by our Group Managing Director, has enabled our divisions to share practices across the Group as well as hear from external experts.

Each Wesfarmers division has developed its own gender diversity plan in line with the Wesfarmers Gender Diversity Policy, tailored to the specific circumstances of that division. The Policy outlines four core objectives which are used to measure our progress in this area. The objectives and progress in achieving these objectives are reviewed annually by the Board.

The four objectives and indications of progress achieved for all roles at manager level and above are outlined below, along with some illustrative examples:

1. Foster an inclusive culture:

This objective seeks to leverage each individual's unique skills, background and perspectives.

At Wesfarmers, rather than fitting all team members to a traditional notion of a leader, our focus is on developing and rewarding the different strengths and leadership styles that people bring to our workplaces. By doing so, not only do we know that our team members feel comfortable bringing their best selves to our workplaces, but also that we’re drawing on the power of diversity of thought across teams. Understanding the different needs – both personal and professional – of our male and female team members is also critical to ensuring we give our team members the career path, flexibility, and support they need in order to be their most fulfilled and productive.

Women are not equally represented in senior operations roles. By way of example, to build greater gender balance within its operations team, Target has taken a number of steps to actively support working parents as they are promoted into more senior roles. Team members are encouraged to discuss any perceived challenges with a broad group of colleagues and work through a sustainable approach to ensure they are set up for success. Where team members are required to relocate for a promotion, visits have been arranged ahead of accepting the promotion to help assess whether the move was the right decision for the team member’s family. Once promoted, team members were provided additional support, face to face coaching, and feedback from across the team.

Flexible working in all its forms is encouraged at Wesfarmers, and as at 30 June 2018, 57 per cent of our permanent workforce is employed on a part-time basis. Some of our divisions provide competitive paid parental leave allowances, and of all managers that took parental leave in the 12 months prior to 30 June 2018, 92 per cent of these returned to our business. 

2. Improve talent management:

This objective seeks to embed gender diversity initiatives into our broader talent management processes in order to support the development of all talent.

Wesfarmers is taking a number of steps to ensure that our development and promotion processes identify, support, and encourage a diversity of strengths, styles, and working arrangements for each of our male and female team members.

The Group Managing Director meets twice a year with each division to discuss succession plans and the pipelines of high-potential leaders and ways to ensure divisions are successfully attracting, retaining, and promoting current and future female leaders.  In the 2018 Succession Updates/Divisional Talent reviews:

  • 36 women (25 per cent of all nominees) were nominated as successors to a divisional leadership team roles1
  • 4 women (30 per cent) were nominated to divisional Managing Director roles2
  • Resulting in a combined 40 women (26 per cent) being nominated to these divisional Leadership roles3

For each of our divisions and across the Group as a whole, we closely monitor the gender balance of our teams by level as well as the proportion of General Manager promotions, new hires and exits that are female.

To give visibility across the business and facilitate regular discussion on progress, Kmart discusses gender balance data with its leadership team and Managing Director once per quarter. The data is broken down by department and region to a granular level so that all managers can be made aware of where there is opportunity to improve in the talent management process.

To support team members as they transition back to work following a leave of absence, Coles conducts a quarterly Return to Work Governance Forum in which the head of People and Culture reviews and discusses the return to work plan for all team members due to return in the upcoming three months. As well as providing greater opportunity for team members to move into roles that further develop their skills as they return from leave, since its inception, team members have cited a more positive return to work experience and have used more Keep In Touch days to attend team days and key stakeholder meetings.

3. Enhance recruitment practices:

This objective is a commitment to hiring the best person for the job, which requires consideration of a broad and diverse talent pool.

Across the Wesfarmers Group, our businesses use a variety of tools to ensure hiring processes highlight the capabilities of all applicants and their potential to enhance the existing skills in our teams. 

In its Hiring for Leadership Process (HFL), Officeworks has implemented a number of processes to ensure that the strengths of both men and women are clearly visible throughout each applicant's journey. Hiring panels are designed to mitigate for bias to ensure the best hiring decision for Officeworks. Interview guides shift some of the focus away from experience. An emphasis on balanced candidate pools ensure careful consideration of non-traditional candidates. Careful monitoring of candidate data throughout the applications, shortlist, interview, preferred candidate, and offer stages of the process has shown the HFL process has resulted in a proportion of offers that is balanced even when the proportion of applicants is not.

To attract women into roles that typically receive fewer applications from women than men, Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers has innovated its job advertisements by de-emphasising experience requirements and highlighting leadership values, detailing training provided on the job, and using job titles that resonate with a broad set of candidates. When its Kleenheat business made these changes and changed the job title of a “Ramp Hand” to a “Production Worker” it received nearly three times as many job applications overall and increased female applications from 5.6 per cent to 13.2 per cent.

In the 2018 financial year, 50 per cent of externally recruited positions were filled by women (2017: 49 per cent) and 39 per cent of externally recruited manager and above roles were filled by women (2017: 37 per cent).

4. Ensure pay equity:

This objective aims to ensure that women and men receive equal pay for equal work across our workforce.

Since 2010, a Group review of gender pay equity has been conducted annually, with results reviewed by the Board and divisional Managing Directors. 

The 2018 review showed gaps of:

Any apparent gaps are analysed to ensure that such gaps can be explained with reference to market forces which may include, for example, different rates of pay in different industries, location and the relative supply and demand for different qualifications, individual performance and experience.

Every year, Wesfarmers businesses lodge their annual compliance reports with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). A copy of these reports may be obtained via the WGEA website.

Wesfarmers is a signatory to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles. Our support of the principles is consistent with our ongoing commitment to gender diversity and aligned to the work we are currently doing across the Group. For more information click here.

Employee standards

Wesfarmers is deeply committed to treating all employees with respect and fairness. The policies and frameworks that support the Group’s day to day operations are designed to ensure that all relevant universally recognised human rights are observed and safeguarded. Each division must comply with the principles of the Wesfarmers Equal Employment Opportunity Policy or incorporate these principles into their policies and procedures.

1 Divisional leadership team roles consist of roles which are direct reports of the divisional Managing Director as well as other major roles (Director and/or General Manager roles). Does not include the division’s Managing Director role. Nominees only counted once, regardless of the number of nominations received.
2 Nominees only counted once, regardless of the number of nominations to a divisional Managing Director role received.
3 Roles considered part of the divisional leadership team, or a divisional Managing Director role. Nominees only counted once, regardless of the number of nominations received.

GRI 103-1, GRI 103-2, GRI 103-3, GRI 405-1, GRI 103-1, GRI 103-2, GRI 103-3, GRI 406-1