Corporate Responsibility Governance

We’ve set targets and made commitments to be a responsible and sustainable business – this can only be achieved with the support of our people at all levels of our business.

As any business should, Woolworths gives priority to issues that are material to the business and which align with our strategic pillars. The Destination ZERO safety strategy and the Sustainability Strategy 2007–2015 provide the direction and focus for practices, policies and investment.

Governance, the Board and Directors

Corporate governance is at the core of Woolworths’ and the Board’s approach to the enhancement of shareholder value and the protection of shareholder funds. Integral to shareholder value is protecting and enhancing our reputation, which is why the Board oversees the company’s approach to corporate responsibility and sustainability.

The Woolworths Board has a Board Sustainability Committee, which meets quarterly, and reviews performance on issues of Safety and Health, Sustainability and Community Investment.

Information on our Board of Directors and the Board Charter is at: Here

The relevant Committees are covered in: Here

There is more information in the corporate governance statement in our 2015 Annual Report: Here

Risk management framework

The continued growth and success of Woolworths depends on the ability of our company to understand and respond to the challenges of an uncertain and changing world. As a large, dispersed and complex organisation, this uncertainty generates risk, with the potential to be a source of both opportunities and threats. By understanding and managing risk, the company provides greater certainty and confidence for all its stakeholders. Our risk management policy is in the same location as our governance framework, referred to previously. See: Here


With Woolworths’ original Sustainability Strategy drawing to a close, work has commenced on preparing a broader Corporate Responsibility Strategy through to 2020. To prepare this, we had an independent assessment conducted to review our key material sustainability issues.

The assessment was based on the AccountAbility AA1000 Assurance Standard (2008) principle of materiality and guided by their Five Part Materiality Test, to identify and prioritise issues relevant to:

  • Financial impacts
  • Policy-related performance
  • Business peer-based norms
  • Stakeholder behaviour and concerns
  • Societal norms

During the assessment, we considered all of our business divisions and a broad range of external stakeholders, including consumers, customers, employees, government, investors, peers and suppliers. Essential information was obtained through sources that included customer insights, employee surveys, strategic priorities and targets, the Advantage Report, traditional and social media reviews and industry sustainability benchmark indices.


Woolworths Limited 2015 Material Sustainability Issues


Supplier relationships, communication and collaboration


Employee conditions, wellbeing and communications


End to end reduction of waste (incl. packaging)


Labour rights in the supply chain


Low price and value for money model


Environmentally responsible sourcing


Energy and emissions


Understanding and responding to customer needs


Product quality, safety, availability and range


Partners in the community

The issues were classified as either ‘Material’, of ‘High Stakeholder Interest’, of ‘High Woolworths Interest’ or none of these.

The Materiality Assessment identified the Group-wide Material Sustainability Issues listed in the table on the previous page.

The assessment also identified some divisional specific issues, which have been addressed in the report, e.g. local sourcing for supermarkets, responsible service of alcohol for Woolworths Liquor Group and responsible gaming for ALH Group.

Senior management

The Chief Executive Officer chairs a quarterly Safety and Health Executive Committee which is attended by the Heads of Business and provides management oversight of the effectiveness of the divisions’ implementation of the Safety and Health vision, principles, policy, standards, strategy and initiatives, risk processes, resources, information, compliance and assurance.

Each division has a Safety and Health Committee that meets monthly to review safety and health. In addition to this, there are site-based Safety and Health Committees comprised of management and workers.

Transparency and reporting

Woolworths uses the globally recognised reporting framework developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The GRI reporting framework sets out the principles and indicators that organisations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance. This report was prepared in accordance with the ‘core’ principles of the GRI G4 guidelines.

We continue to report to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an investor-driven disclosure initiative enabling companies to report on risk identification and mitigation processes related to climate change.

We also participate in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI), a global index that tracks the financial performance of leading sustainability-driven companies. We continue to benchmark strongly against our peers in the food and staples retailing industry.






Overall score





Economic dimension





Environmental dimension





Social dimension






All our employees commit to our Code of Conduct to maintain the highest legal, moral and ethical standards in our dealings with customers, suppliers, employees and local communities. This code outlines how employees can meet the highest standards through their everyday behaviours and choices.

All forms of bribery, including facilitation payments, are prohibited, whether they take place directly or indirectly through another party.

We’re committed to continuous improvement, transparency and accountability. We don’t tolerate workplace misconduct under any circumstances and we need our trade partners to work with us to stamp out any and every instance. We have clear, long-standing and accepted procedures for trade partners to report any issues. However, we recognise there is always opportunity to strengthen our systems. Our Speak Up service is available for trade partners to use when normal escalation methods have been exhausted or are inappropriate.

Political donations

Woolworths prepares for legislative and regulatory reforms through direct engagement with political parties and elected representatives in Australia and New Zealand. Our policy is that any political contributions require board approval. Woolworths adheres to all relevant political disclosure laws and regulations and strives to make contributions in a bipartisan manner.

This year, political contributions in Australia totalled $27,500, which represented our membership fee for the Federal Labor Business Forum for the 2014 financial year. In New Zealand, we did not make political donations or attend any political functions.

Privacy policy

We’re committed to meeting the National Privacy Principles for the Fair Handling of Personal Information, which sets standards for the collection, use and disclosure, access, storage and destruction of personal information that we collect as part of our business operations.

Our respect for our customers’ right to privacy of their personal information is paramount. We have policies and procedures to ensure that all personal information, no matter how or where it’s obtained, is handled sensitively, securely, and in accordance with the National Privacy Principles. See here for our privacy policy.