Woolworths 2008 Corporate Responsibility Report, 2007 Responsibility Reports, and 2009 Web Pages
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As the largest food retailer in Australia, Woolworths demonstrates a strong commitment to social and environmental sustainability. The Company displays an overall exemplary job at addressing a wide range of social and environmental issues, while exhibiting transparency in both realms of reporting. In its first integrated Corporate Responsibility Report, Woolworths provides comprehensive discussions of critical environmental concerns such as carbon dioxide emissions, packaging, water usage, waste reduction, and sustainable sourcing, supplying detailed quantitative information when applicable. The Company also shows excellent leadership in the promotion of innovative environmental initiatives. Examples of such undertakings include the Water Wise project, the Company’s policy of sending of organic waste to EarthPower, which converts food waste into energy, Woolworths’ opening of numerous green supermarket stores, its emphasis on the use of green bags and recycling, as well as its commitment to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Woolworths is also very cognizant of the impact its products exert on the environment; for example, the Company is phasing out the sale of products that contain palm oil because this substance has been shown to contribute to habitat destruction and hinder biodiversity. Woolworths does possess room for improvement in the arena environmental reporting, however, as it does not address or quantify the amount of hazardous waste it produces and releases into the environment, how much waste water it recycles, or the amount of ozone depleting substances, such as CFCs and halons, that enter the atmosphere from refrigerant. Woolworths performs in a similarly exemplary manner in the implementation and reporting of social issues. To begin with, the company illustrates a sincere dedication to developing and giving back to the community, as it donates over $17.5 million to philanthropic efforts on an annual basis. Examples of Woolworths’ interest in giving back to society include its Fresh Food Kids Hospital Appeal, which supports children’s hospitals, and the Company’s support for organizations such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Salvation Army, and Foodbank. Woolworths also conveys an outstanding commitment to promoting its employees’ health and safety. The Company’s recent implementation of eight weeks of paid maternity leave, its significant investment in employees training, and its comprehensive safety programs such as Drive 4 life and Move4Life all exemplify Woolworths’ devotion to providing a safe, healthy workplace for its people. The only major weaknesses of Woolworths’ social reporting include its failure to address its policies concerning the forced labor of its employees, employee working hours, and corporal punishment of employees. Some of these issues are discussed in the context of Woolworths’ suppliers’ policies, but not in the context of its internal operations. However, on the whole, Woolworths demonstrates overall excellence in putting sustainability and transparency into practice – a feat that other companies in the food and drug industry should strive to achieve. Analyzed by Selene Isaacson, and posted to the web on 4/20/2009.
As Australia's number one food retailer, Woolworths "operates more than 3,000 supermarkets, general merchandise, and electronics stores in Australia and New Zealand. (Its 970-plus supermarkets and 1,000-plus liquor stores account for about 85% of sales.) In addition, Woolworths sells gasoline and leverages its distribution network to provide wholesale merchandise for third-party supermarkets. Woolworths' 150 general merchandise discount stores operate under the Big W name. The company also runs about 415 consumer electronics shops under the Dick Smith Electronics, PowerHouse, and Tandy brand names. The retailer's Taverner Hotel Group operates some 270 hotels" (http://premium.hoovers.com/subscribe/co/factsheet.xhtml?ID=hhtsrkhfhtytxc).
The letter grades reported below are based on all reports irrespective of year of the same sector in the database and may be slightly different from the grades in the individual sector reports, which are based on scores of companies in just that report.
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