Sustainability at Elders
One of the key strategic priorities of Elders’ third Eight Point Plan (October 2020 to 30 September 2023) is developing and delivering an authentic and industry leading sustainability program which acknowledges and builds on the initiatives which Elders’ participates in and leads throughout rural and regional Australia, for and on behalf of the entire agriculture industry.
We believe that an authentic approach to sustainability drives profitability for our organisation and shareholders and builds a better business for our stakeholders to associate with, invest in and work in.
In the coming months, we will be updating this website and publishing our first annual Sustainability Report, which will contain important information for our stakeholders to enable them to understand what we do, and what we are going to do to ensure the sustainability of our company.
In the meantime, you can access a range of information through our existing reports and publications available online, or by contacting our Sustainability Manager, Karena Milios, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our key sustainability principles
We provide our customers and clients with the goods and services they need
We support our people and the industries and communities in which we operate
We do our part to look after the environment and the animals in our care
We operate ethically and to the highest standard
Community Impact and Investment
Through assisting generations of Australian farmers over the course of more than 180 years in business, Elders recognises that our long-term sustainability depends on maintaining strong relationships with the communities in which we operate.
We support local communities through investment in local events and organisations and by maintaining a physical presence in the communities we serve.
In FY19, we gave $2.1m in sponsorships and donations, which included $1.3 million to local rural and regional communities. Donations and sponsorships were also provided to one of our key national charitable partners, the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Workplace Health and Safety
As set out in our Work Health and Safety Policy (available in our Investor Centre), Elders is committed to establishing and maintaining a safe work environment. We strongly believe that nothing done in the course of our business is so important that it cannot be done safely, and that an effective safety culture is a critical and non-negotiable corporate objective.
Elders’ dedicated safety, risk and environment business partners deliver safety training and perform audits and incident investigations. We partner with Agsafe for added training and external auditing, and third parties for additional training on specific operational risks, such as chemical and livestock handling and driver safety. Recognising that mental health is also an important issue in our industry, we offer free, confidential counselling to our workers and their immediate family through our Employee Assistance Provider, which is accessible face-to-face and remotely.
Prior to our first Eight Point Plan in FY13, Elders had some 33 lost time injuries within its workforce. Elders had 9 lost time injuries in FY19, and this year has dedicated significant resourcing to refreshing its work health and safety system, launching its new ‘Safety 7’ plan. Information about our plan will be included in our upcoming Annual Report and Sustainability Report. In the meantime, information about our health and safety objectives and systems is available in our 2019 Annual Report and 2019 Corporate Governance Statement.
The success of our business is reliant on us attracting, retaining and developing the best people in agriculture, and we have a number of programs and initiatives in place to support this.
Employee Attraction and Retention
We source talent by leveraging our network, through our graduate and training programs and through external advertising and recruiters. Our centralised human resources team ensures all proper documentation and processes are provided and followed when we onboard staff, including temporary and seasonal workers. Our voluntary employee turnover rate in FY19 was 13%, and we have several programs and initiatives in place to support role succession and new talent acquisition. More information on how we manage and support our people is available on our website, Careers.
Diversity and Inclusion
We recognise that a diverse and inclusive workforce is critical to achieving our objective of attracting, retaining and leveraging talent. Our Diversity Policy (available in our Investor Centre) sets out the key elements of a diverse organisation and the value derived from embedding diversity throughout our business.
We recognise that diversity and inclusion incorporate much more than gender, however, given the significant gap in the representation of women in leadership positions across the agricultural industry, redressing gender imbalance is the current focus for our diversity program.
In FY19, 39.8% of our workforce and 40% of our non-executive Board directors were women. More information on gender diversity, including how many women occupy management positions and our Board-approved diversity objectives are available in our 2019 WGEA Report and our 2019 Corporate Governance Statement.
We recognise the importance of protecting the environment in sustaining agricultural productivity, and several of our operations are subject to State, Territory and local environmental legislation. Information on our performance and compliance with environmental regulation is available in our Directors’ Report within our 2019 Annual Report.
Key environmental issues for our business and for the Australian agriculture industry generally are: climate change, water availability, adverse weather and waste management. Each of these topics will be addressed in our upcoming Sustainability Report. We are adopting the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures in assessing and sharing information on our climate-related financial risks and opportunities, which will include the disclosure of our Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage.
An understanding we share with our growers is that the way that we treat animals affects our reputation and the relationships we have with our stakeholders, including our suppliers and customers.
Elders is committed to the humane and considerate treatment of livestock and maintaining the welfare of animals in its care.
This commitment is set out in our livestock handling and animal welfare policy. Our staff are also guided by industry standards and are required to comply with all local laws and regulations relating to handling animals.
Employees dealing with livestock as part of their roles receive livestock handling training and our operations at Killara Feedlot are regularly inspected and audited by management and external veterinary consultants to ensure we are caring for our animals in alignment with the standards and guidelines endorsed by the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association.
Digital & Technical Services
Ensuring we can provide our customers and clients with the goods and services they need is critical to our economic sustainability. In a constantly changing and challenging environment, this requires investment in and the delivery of digital and technical services.
Elders supports a number of agricultural technology providers and invests and participates in research, development and innovation through Titan Ag, Elders Plant Genetics and the Thomas Elder Institute. Information on developments and research is shared throughout our website (in particular Tech Services) and to our clients and the broader community through our network of agronomists, meeting with clients personally and demonstrating new technology on trial sites like the Struan Best Practice Farm in South Australia. This year we have hosted a number of webinars on innovation in agriculture, which have been attended by hundreds of growers around the country. We have also recently launched Thomas Elder Markets, a new data-driven market analysis service that provides premium agricultural market insights and reports to our clients.
Over the next few years we will continue to progressively modernise our IT and data platforms to drive efficiency, improve experience and support deeper customer understanding.
Our One Elders Values are integral to the way we do business and set the behavioural expectations of all employees and Directors. We believe that positive behaviour drives Elders’ culture, which in turn contributes to our sustainable success and growth.
Our corporate governance framework seeks to inform and guide adherence to our values and our Board maintains regular engagement with senior management, to ensure that our values are aligned with what we do in practice.
Information regarding how our organisation is governed, including the structure and operation of our Board and governing committees is available in our 2019 Corporate Governance Statement. Additional information about how we manage material business risks is available in our 2019 Annual Report and our most important governance policies are available in our Investor Centre.