Business & Human Rights, Case Studies

Woolworths: Tackling the Gender Pay Gap

UN Global Compact Network Australia | March 8, 2017

The Woolworths Group is one of Australia’s largest retail companies, encompassing some of the country’s most trusted and celebrated brands including Woolworths Supermarkets, Dan Murphy’s, BWS and BIG W.  In February 2017, Woolworths Group launched its Corporate Responsibility Strategy 2020, which identifies 20 corporate responsibility and sustainability goals and commitments that Woolworths aims to implement by 2020.  As an employer of more than 200,000 people, a large part of the strategy is focussed on their people, including initiatives around gender equality, such as women in management and closing the pay gap, where significant progress has already been made.

Acutely aware of their responsibilities as a large, diverse business serving millions of customers every week and their influence and impact on their customers, team members, suppliers and communities, Woolworths have recently launched an ambitious set of goals that the company will work towards by 2020.  These strategy includes goals in the following three areas:

  • People – relating to diversity and inclusion
  • Planet – relating to the environmental impact of the business
  • Prosperity – relating to business partners including suppliers, community partners and customers.

The strategy has strong support from Woolworths Board and management.

“We are passionate about the opportunity we have to do the right thing.  Every Woolworths team member knows that they have a role to play in achieving these commitments.” Brad Banducci, CEO, Woolworths Group.

A key part of the People pillar of the strategy is ensuring gender equity.  More than half of Woolworths’ total workforce is female and the Woolworths Board is split 50:50 between men and women. The company is committed to improving the representation of women even further by increasing their numbers in executive and management roles.

An essential aspect of any campaign in achieving equality for women is ensuring equal pay for equal work.  In workplaces where pay is both fair and transparent, employee loyalty and retention are greater. The Woolworths goal for 2020 is No salary wage gap between male and female employees of equivalent positions on a per hour rate at all levels of the company, with a step change improvement in closing any gaps by the end of FY17. Woolworths has and is continuing to undertake extensive work and analysis to understand any salary wage gaps, and has developed a diversity and inclusion strategy and remuneration principles to drive improvement in this area.  It is not just about running a one-off initiative to close current gaps; more importantly it is about ensuring that policies exist to secure ongoing equality of pay.

As part of their drive to minimise the pay gap between male and female team members, in 2016 Woolworths reviewed the salaries of approximately 18,000 employees, adjusting salaries for 29% of those reviewed. This has resulted in reducing the salary gap to an average of 0.5% between males and females carrying out like-for-like roles.

There is a firm commitment from the company to maintain an increased level of transparency on progress as it works towards achieving its 2020 goals.

“While we are excited by what the future holds, we are clear that we should be judged not by what we say we will do, but by what we actually do.  This is how we will hold ourselves accountable.” Brad Banducci, CEO, Woolworths Group.

More information on the Woolworths Corporate Responsibility Strategy can be found here: http://crs.woolworthsgroup.com.au/

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UN Global Compact Network Australia