Countdown has released its third Corporate Responsibility Report and signalled an ambitious new sustainability focus with the launch of 20 new commitments out to 2020.
The goals fall under the three categories of People, Planet and Prosperity, and align with the United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, one of the first companies in New Zealand to do so.
Countdown’s Managing Director Dave Chambers says, “As a large New Zealand business we have a significant role to play in responding to the global rise of environmental, economic and social issues. Not only is embedding sustainability into our core business strategy the right thing to do, it’s also a key vehicle for our future growth and will underpin how we measure our success,” he says.
As one of the largest employers in New Zealand, Countdown has focused one of its three pillars of activity around its people, and its drive to be the employer of choice for Kiwis. Already this year, Countdown has taken a leadership role in introducing a Family Violence Policy for its team members, and was one of the first companies globally to announce a Transgender Transitioning Policy. Within its 2020 targets, Countdown wants to further advance issues like pay equity, diversity and giving young Kiwis great career opportunities.
There are a number of new commitments in Countdown’s second pillar, planet, to help protect New Zealand’s unique environment such as moving towards zero food waste going to landfill and improving the recyclability of Countdown’s own brand products. In October, Countdown was the first supermarket brand in New Zealand to announce its intention to phase out single-use plastic carrier bags by the end of 2018 as a key part of its broader efforts on waste minimisation.
There are also a number of targets to reduce the business’ carbon footprint by a further ten per cent by 2020, and strengthen ethical sourcing.
The third pillar, prosperity, focuses on how Countdown can improve the business success of its suppliers, meet customer expectations around affordable, quality food and contribute to the communities in which it operates.
“We recognise that together with our suppliers, we drive considerable economic activity in New Zealand, producing the food and groceries New Zealanders need, as well as providing a huge number of jobs. These relationships with our suppliers must always be built on fairness and transparency, which is underpinned by our Supplier Charter announced earlier this year,” says Chambers.
Countdown will continue to invest in community initiatives like its Food Rescue programme whereby it diverts almost $6m annually worth of food to food banks and food charities.
As well as launching the new 2020 commitments, Countdown has also released its Corporate Responsibility Report, detailing progress on community and environmental commitments over the last financial year, 29 June 2016 to 29 June 2017.
Countdown’s 20 new goals
- At least 40% of executive and senior manager positions to be held by women.
- 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.
- 100% of those responsible for hiring new team members to have completed unconscious bias training.
- Continue the focus on driving cultural diversity, with a commitment that by 2020 the Countdown team will truly reflect the communities we serve.
- We will develop the careers of the Countdown team with a focus on youth.
- We will continue to develop employment policies appropriate to our New Zealand team to provide a supportive work environment.
- We are committed to maintaining a workplace that safeguards the health and wellbeing of our people, customers and visitors.
- Achieve Rainbow Tick certification in New Zealand, demonstrating our commitment to LGBTI inclusion.
- Towards zero food waste going to landfill.
- Improve the recyclability of our own brand packaging and contribute to the circular economy.
- Source key raw materials and commodities sustainably to an independent standard by 2020. We will raise awareness of sustainably sourced products.
- Achieve net zero supply chain deforestation for ‘high impact’ commodities in our own brand products, such as palm oil, timber, pulp and paper, and packaging.
- Reduce Countdown’s carbon emissions to 10% below 2015 levels.
- Innovate with natural refrigerants and reduce refrigerant leakage in our stores by 15% of CO2 equivalent below 2015 levels.
- We will achieve a top quartile favourability ranking with our suppliers as measured by independent supplier surveys.
- We will focus on a best practice compliance system according to the Global Compliance Programme. We will collaborate with peak organisations to improve workers lives.
- We will invest the equivalent of one per cent of a three year rolling average of total Countdown Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) into community partnerships and programmes.
- We will publicly report social impact to quantify the positive change we are creating with a focus on health, economic development and emergency relief.
- We will achieve leading customer satisfaction scores.
- We will support and inform our customers to help them to make healthier choices.