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Stakeholder engagement


We regularly and openly listen to our stakeholders to understand their expectations and how these might change. We welcome your feedback on our sustainability performance or reporting.

At a Group level, Wesfarmers considers the interests of a wide cross-section of stakeholders in a variety of ways, determined by the actual or potential impact of our business on their interests.

Every year, as part of our report preparation process, we conduct a stakeholder engagement survey to continually improve our communication on sustainability-related issues. Respondents identified the following issues as areas of interest, which are addressed in this report:

  • Climate change resilience
  • Supplier relationships
  • Gaming
  • Sugar
  • Ethical sourcing
  • Human rights
  • Women in leadership
  • Communication with stakeholder groups
  • Indigenous engagement
  • Waste management
  • Packaging

Non-government organisations: Our divisions work collaboratively with non-government organisations (NGOs) on a range of projects. NGOs engage with us on issues such as human and labour rights and environment and public policy.

We continue to build relationships with accredited and reputable NGOs, such as Oxfam Australia, Greening Australia and WWF Australia.

We work with a range of industry associations appropriate for our operations including the Australian Packaging Covenant, the Business Council of Australia, the Carbon Market Institute, the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association, the National Retail Association, the Green Building Council of Australia, Retailer Supplier Roundtable and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

This year, NGOs engaged with us on ethical sourcing and human rights generally as well as the introduction of a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.

Media: Media is an important avenue for communication with our stakeholders. We work with international, national and local media organisations because we believe it contributes to the transparency and reputation of Wesfarmers. Media commentary and inquiries indicate we are expected to uphold high standards of transparency, integrity, corporate governance and financial and operational performance. The media also expects us to contribute to discussion and debate relating to the economy, business confidence and public policy, predominantly in Australia.

Our engagement with media includes holding media conferences to coincide with financial results announcements each quarter and other major events as appropriate. Our corporate affairs department considers all media inquiries and responds appropriately, guided by what is in the best interests of our company. The Managing Director, Chief Financial Officer and Chairman are also available for other media interviews on request.

Other than financial performance, the main focus of media interest in Wesfarmers this year was leadership transition, with the appointment of Rob Scott as Managing Director following our AGM in November 2017, and the significant repositioning of the Wesfarmers portfolio in the following months, in particular the divestment of the Bunnings United Kingdom and Ireland business and the proposed demerger of Coles. Other areas of media interest during the year were Wesfarmers' position on various economic and social policy areas including taxation transparency and proposed corporate tax cuts, the phasing out of single-use plastic bags in supermarkets, Wesfarmers’ reluctant ownership of pokers machines, the impact of potential Target store closures, and the introduction of a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.

Government: During the year we liaised with Federal and State Governments in relation to a range of issues that affect our businesses. The time and resources required to contribute to all State and Federal Government inquiries we are asked to participate in would be significant and it is difficult to respond to all.

Suppliers: Wesfarmers is committed to long-term outcomes that benefit both shareholders and our suppliers while recognising that robust negotiations are a part of normal and acceptable business practice and contribute to innovation, efficiency and the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of all parties.

Our divisions have close working relationships with their suppliers. They also have ethical sourcing audit and review systems for higher-risk suppliers. Our businesses are members of supplier bodies, recognise suppliers through awards and meet with suppliers regularly and as requested.

For details of the main issues raised by suppliers directly this year, see the supplier page of this report.

Shareholders: We listen to our shareholders throughout the year. We engage with our retail shareholders at our annual general meeting and respond to ad-hoc correspondence. The Wesfarmers share register is managed by Computershare Investor Services Pty Limited (Computershare). We listen to our institutional investors at results announcements, strategy and operational briefings, post-result road shows and other ad hoc meetings.

We hold a number of investor briefings each year relating to Wesfarmers’ half- and full-year results. These are open to all shareholders to listen to live or delayed via public webcasts and for investment analysts to ask questions. Analysts can ask questions of the Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer and, in the case of the half- and full-year results releases, divisional Managing Directors.

The main issues that shareholders raised this year related to the competitiveness of the industries in which we operate, the proposed demerger of Coles, portfolio opportunities (acquisitions and divestments), our approach to capital allocation and the Group's outlook.

Our investors are also interested in understanding our approach to sustainability including ethical sourcing, supplier relationships, climate change resilience and broader corporate governance. These topics are discussed in investor briefings and at our annual general meeting.

Customers: Our customers contact us through emails, letters, websites, telephone calls and in person throughout the year. Customers who are concerned or pleased about particular activities in our business decisions sporadically communicate their views directly to Wesfarmers. Customer feedback received directly via email is monitored every working day and passed on as soon as possible, usually immediately, to the area of the Group which is best positioned to respond.

Employees: As at June 2018, we employed around 217,000 people. We have a number of channels which we use to listen to our employees, including periodic divisional employee surveys, discussions with unions, personal contact, our whistle-blower process, our website and via email.

This year, as in previous years, the key messages we have received from employees include discussions around professional development and concerns relating to individual circumstances. Divisions act on the feedback they receive in employee surveys and individual concerns are investigated and addressed. Our whistle-blower process is reported to our Audit and Risk Committee annually.

GRI 102-21, GRI 102-33, GRI 102-40, GRI 102-42, GRI 102-43, GRI 102-44, GRI 103-1, GRI 103-2, GRI 103-3, GRI 103-1 (Public Policy), GRI 103-2 (Public Policy), GRI 103-3 (Public Policy).