Our approach

Our continued growth is linked to employees that keep the customer at the heart of everything we do. Our high performing culture is a result of teamwork and an enduring focus on safety. We are committed to attracting people that can bring their best each day, while providing our workforce with development opportunities that support their career goals.

Our performance

In FY18 we employed around 56,000 people including Spotless. Approximately 65 per cent of our employees based in Australia and New Zealand are covered by collective agreements and industry-based awards. We have a wide variety of employment arrangements across the Group, including individual contracts of employment and collective agreements. This reflects the diverse sectors in which we operate.

Workforce breakdown by region

New Zealand and Pacific25.7%
Southern Africa0.8%
South America0.2%

Downer understands the importance of identifying, recruiting and developing outstanding people.

We annually assess performance and potential as part of ongoing development and retention strategies.

All full time and part time employees at Downer’s major Australian and New Zealand sites receive the same benefits.

Downer recognises the importance of creating an organisational culture that builds engagement and empowers our workforce. This delivers high-performing individuals who are committed to the company and has a direct impact on how safely they work, the quality of the leadership and supervision they provide, and the development of new initiatives and innovations.

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Downer's annual Employee Engagement Survey has been administered for four years and this year Spotless employees also participated. This survey allows us to understand what we do well as a company and where we can improve. It also serves as a channel for honest feedback and a direct line of communication to the CEO, Executive Leadership Team, Downer Board and all employees.

This year Downer achieved an engagement score of 69 per cent, and a progress score of 61 per cent. Consistent with previous results, Downer performed well on questions about teamwork, safety and role clarity. The following represents these key metrics and demonstrates our commitment to our people, their safety and continued success.

Feedback suggests Downer can improve our employee experience by supporting better cross-unit cooperation and supporting innovation. To address this valuable feedback, divisional leaders will work with their teams to identify and implement action plans.

Knowledge management

Downer recognises the value in effectively managing knowledge. As a learning organisation Downer solves problems systematically, embraces and tests new approaches and methodologies, and learns from past experiences, failures and best practices.

Custodianship of Knowledge Management within Downer is through the Project Management Office (PMO) via the development, maintenance and delivery of process and people capability.

The PMO transfers knowledge throughout Downer by sharing lessons learned and through the learning and development capability of our people.

Employee development
and capability

Downer is committed to a workforce that reflects and is informed by the customers and communities we serve while maintaining a sustainable business.

Our future focus

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Focus Area




Brand & reputation

To enhance the brand and reputation of the Downer Group through partnerships related to our diversity focus areas and to ensure Downer Group continues to be viewed as an organisation that is committed to D&I
Establish two partnerships with reputable diversity agencies
  • Consider partnering with the Diversity Council of Australia and/or the Australian Human Rights Commission to strengthen and illustrate Downer’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
  • Build Downer’s employee value proposition that builds on employee engagement survey findings – including through regular internal and external messaging focused on an inclusive culture

Gender diversity

To improve opportunities for women to reach their potential through an inclusive work environment while positioning Downer as a preferred employer for women in our industry

37 per cent women in the workforce by 2020

20 per cent women in management by 2020

  • Launch a new Downer paid parental leave policy
  • Establish a mentoring program where 15 high performing women are paired with high performing leaders to support their development goals
  • Build the executive talent pool of senior females with focused development opportunities including Downer ExeLD program (five places) and targeted external development through Chief Executive Women (three places)
  • Implement a new learning module and to be completed progressively by hiring managers. The module will focus on diversity insights relevant to recruitment processes so that hiring managers are able to apply insights that are focused on achieving improved gender diversity

Cultural diversity

To build on Downer’s commitment to closing the gap by increasing Indigenous workforce participation and developing strategic partnerships with Indigenous organisations and community groups
Three per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees by 2020
  • Launch Downer’s second Reconciliation Action Plan to demonstrate the ongoing commitment to reconciliation
  • Develop two partnerships with Indigenous pre-employment agencies to support the commitment to closing the gap
  • All supervisors and above will complete cultural awareness training, which will commence during the period

Generational diversity

To establish Downer as a sought-after employer for all age-groups and as an organisation that builds a talent pipeline of thought leaders and continues to value experience

Build our LinkedIn ranking (currently the 12th most sought after business to work for)

Maintain or increase the number of graduate employees year-on-year until 2021

  • Build a talent pipeline by investing in youth programs that align to our diversity focus of both female and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander priority areas, including the Downer Graduate Development Program (continue to unify a one Downer approach to graduate recruitment)
  • Establish governance structure and a framework for the Downer Apprentice and Trainee Program that supports strategic attraction and selection
  • Develop D&I image guidelines to ensure internal and external collateral covers the broad spectrum of diverse employees (with a focus on generational)

Managing modern

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Downer supports fundamental human rights and preventing modern slavery and human trafficking as set out in international human rights conventions.

We have undertaken a high-level risk assessment of our labour practices including our supply chain and believe that our greatest risk exposure is within our supply chain.

As a result, Downer is currently in the process of reviewing its own labour practices and our supply chain through our existing procurement framework and process to take into consideration modern slavery, in accordance with the NSW Modern Slavery Bill 2018 and the imminent Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018 soon to be introduced to Australia’s Federal Parliament.

We are taking steps to strengthen our supplier qualification process to evaluate performances such as employee working conditions and on modern slavery and human trafficking issues. Where suppliers are found to be non-compliant with our Standards of Business Conduct and contract terms, we are improving our existing processes to ensure that these suppliers are adequately managed, and their risks mitigated.

In addition, our current government contracts require Downer and its subcontractors to demonstrate due diligence in ensuring our operations comply with internationally accepted practices as set out in the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in Downer’s supply chain, beyond our direct suppliers, remains a challenge. However, we are committed to continuous improvement through the above measures, including engaging with our direct suppliers to assess and encourage continuous improvement in their own capacity to manage modern slavery risks in their subcontractors and broader supply chain.