Zero Harm means working in an environment that:
supports the health and safety of our people;
minimises the impact that our business has on the environment; and
advances the communities where we work.
At Downer, sustainability means sustainable and profitable growth, providing value to our customers, delivering our services in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, helping our people to be better and advancing the communities in which we operate.
Our commitments to sustainability are outlined in our policies, which are available here.
A core element of Downer’s sustainability approach is to focus on our customers’ success – if our customers are successful, then we will be successful. Our core operating philosophy, ‘Relationships creating success’, encapsulates this theme.
Downer operates in sectors that are closely connected to the investment that is being driven by population growth and urbanisation. These sectors include roads, rail, light rail, other public transport, power, gas, water, telecommunications, health, education, defence and other government sectors.
These sectors are serviced by Downer’s Urban Services businesses – Transport, Utilities, Facilities and Asset Services.
These businesses have demonstrated strength and resilience and hold leading market positions and attractive medium-term and long-term growth opportunities. They have a high proportion of government and government-related contracts and a capital light, services-based business model generating lower risk, and more predictable revenues and cash flows.
Downer’s Urban Services strategy delivers many environmental and social benefits including a move to lower capital intensive and lower carbon activities, which supports Downer’s decarbonisation pathway.
Downer is proud of the role we play in creating more sustainable cities and improving the quality of life in Australia and New Zealand. We are also heavily involved in providing services for social infrastructure such as schools, universities, hospitals, public housing and other areas of government such as defence.
Our customers trust us to deliver these services that will have a direct impact on their customers each day.
With our services impacting millions of lives every day, the sustainability of our operations is paramount – for our people, our partners, our shareholders, our customers and their customers.
We deliver these services while managing the impacts of our activities on the environment and communities in which we operate, and working collaboratively with our supply chain. We understand that our ability to do this is fundamental to Downer’s long-term success.
Our business operations have a direct impact on a wide range of stakeholders.
We seek to identify the issues that matter most to the business and our stakeholders, and have the greatest potential to impact our future success and returns to shareholders. We refer to these as our material issues.
In FY19, Downer revisited its materiality assessment in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards by engaging selected internal and external stakeholders to identify and understand our material economic, social, environmental and governance risks and opportunities.
This provided a list of the top issues which Downer deems to be its material issues. For the purpose of our annual sustainability reporting, these issues are grouped into five material topics: Governance and ethical conduct; Health and safety; Environment; People and Communities.
Downer and our stakeholders place a strong importance on governance and ethical conduct. This was reinforced in the materiality assessment that was undertaken in FY19, where governance and ethical conduct ranked as Downer’s second-highest issue. It remains a material issue in FY20.
Downer’s approach to sustainability is underpinned by a robust corporate governance framework. This framework provides the platform from which Downer’s Board provides strategic direction for the responsible and sustainable growth of the company. It also drives a culture that promotes high ethical standards and personal integrity.
Under our governance framework, Downer’s management is accountable to the Board, and the Board is accountable to shareholders for the operations, performance and growth of the company. The primary goal the Board has set for management is to focus on enhancing shareholder value, which includes responsibility for Downer’s economic, environmental and social performance.
Our Board recognises the need for the highest standards of behaviour and, as such, endorses the ASX Corporate Governance Council’s Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations (ASX Principles). Our Corporate Governance Statement for the year ending 30 June 2020 is included in our FY20 Annual Report.
Ensuring our governance and ethical standards are adhered to by our diverse supply chain remains a challenge, particularly around issues such as human rights and modern slavery, and data security.
Safety is the first of Downer’s four Pillars and Zero Harm is embedded in our DNA.
Our steadfast commitment to the safety of our people is repeatedly authenticated by responses to employee engagement surveys and materiality assessment surveys, as well as by the performance benchmarking we undertake every year.
Downer has consistently achieved strong health and safety results, including in sectors that are exposed to high-risk activities. We are proud of our safety performance, but we also understand we face challenges to maintain and improve this record, and continuously engage with our people to safeguard against complacency in the workforce.
Our commitment to the health and safety of our people and our communities is expressed in strong safety leadership, engagement with our workforce and stakeholders, and a continual focus on identifying and managing risks.
Downer’s health and safety commitments are outlined in our Health and Safety Policy.
Environmental management is a key component of Downer’s Zero Harm philosophy. Downer is committed to managing and minimising the impact of its activities on the natural and built environment. We place a strong emphasis on meeting and exceeding our environmental compliance obligations.
A core focus of Downer’s Urban Services strategy is to develop and maintain innovative solutions that contribute to a lower environmental footprint.
Together, these represent Downer’s keys to long-term success.
Our environment and sustainability performance commitments are outlined in our Environmental Sustainability Policy, our Zero Harm Management Framework and our 10 Environmental Principles. These principles are critical to ensuring our employees and broader stakeholder groups are engaged and aware of our environmental sustainability commitments.
Downer is also cognisant of our social licence to operate, through improving sustainability of our operations, achieving the goal of Zero Harm to the environment and our people, and avoiding legal liability and negative impact on our reputation, business value and ultimately shareholder wealth.
The effective management of our environmental impacts is fundamental to Downer's approach to the delivery of all services and is embedded in our overall risk management processes.
Downer’s environmental management system (accredited to AS/NZ ISO14001:2015) is integrated into our Group-wide management system, called The Downer Standard, which ensures a comprehensive, systematic and consistent approach to identifying and controlling environmental hazards and risks, and monitoring our environmental performance across the organisation. In addition, the environment management system is audited, both internally and externally by independent third parties.
We place significant emphasis on both effective control through our Critical Risk program and continuous improvement through lessons learnt to sustain the natural environment for future generations.
Each Business Unit has an Environmental Sustainability Plan (ESP) that details the necessary strategies and objectives and aligns to the Group Environment and Sustainability three-year strategy. The ESP allocates internal responsibilities for reducing the impact of our operations and business activities on the environment. Downer has a centralised network of professional environment and sustainability resources with extensive knowledge, expertise and experience across the different sectors in which we operate. This network provides an efficient support service to our operations to ensure our environmental obligations are being fulfilled.
Downer remains focused on developing solutions to reduce our energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while increasing our cost competitiveness. We are also committed to developing strategies that will improve the resilience of our assets and portfolio to the impacts of climate change, progressing the circular economy and looking at innovative ways to reuse waste materials in our products. The development of the ReconophaltTM asphalt pavement product is an example of this focus in action, representing principles of the circular economy in incorporating recycled soft plastics into the asphalt product.
For Downer to deliver the best possible outcomes for our customers and communities, we need a workforce that is diverse, capable and engaged.
Supporting the wellbeing of our people and promoting an inclusive and diverse culture are vital to maintaining a competitive advantage and ensuring our success into the future.
We strive for inclusiveness for our diverse workforce of 52,000 people and aim to build a flexible work environment where our people are fulfilled and challenged.
It’s Downer’s people who deliver our services, build trusted relationships with our customers and enhance Downer’s reputation as an industry leader. We are committed to investing in them.
Just as we aim to improve our customers’ assets and the communities in which we operate, we also aim to improve our people and offer them rich career development opportunities. We do this by ensuring they have the right skills, are provided opportunities to develop new capabilities, and are surrounded by a healthy workplace culture that is collaborative and supportive.
We are committed to empowering our people to find innovative, safer and more efficient ways of working. Our people need to keep up with evolving technology and customer preferences and we support them with effective and innovative training to help build the right skills for future success.
We provide competitive remuneration and employee benefits to reward our people for their proficiency and dedication to delivering our business strategy and sustaining our long-term success. Our remuneration approach is intended to motivate our people to embrace Downer’s Purpose, Promise and Pillars, while also ensuring we promote gender pay equity practices.
Government spend remains healthy within the sectors Downer operates in, which continues to stretch the already limited skilled labour talent pool. This fact, combined with Downer’s large workforce, increases the importance of providing an inclusive workplace that not only attracts a skilled workforce but also recognises and retains this talent long-term.
Downer actively supports the communities in which we operate, through good times and bad.
We aim to foster and maintain enduring relationships based on trust, which is reflected in our operating philosophy, ‘Relationships creating success’.
We understand the significant and lasting socio-economic benefits our presence in the community can bring. We honour the responsibility that comes with that by implementing a range of strategies focusing on social responsibility, local and Indigenous employment, cultural heritage management and stakeholder engagement.
We understand the importance of supporting our communities when they need it most. Relationships are forged and trust is built during times of stress and Downer has stood by our communities through the extraordinary events of 2020.
These events will have long-lasting effects on our communities and Dower will continue to support them as they rebuild.