Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural diversity
Downer recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the traditional land owners of Australia. We value them as critical partners and stakeholders in many of our projects and operations. Downer is committed to showing respect and providing support to the Indigenous communities where our work takes place.
We respect the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the special connection they have with the land, natural environment and water. We acknowledge that this connection can be spiritual, reaching beyond quantifiable items or locations. We recognise that we must work alongside Indigenous peoples, building trust, engagement and sincere understanding of their interests and viewpoints. Listening to Indigenous voices strengthens our ability to positively contribute to the full realisation of the rights of Indigenous peoples.
Downer’s vision for reconciliation is one where all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are treated equally in all relationships and their cultures and histories are celebrated and respected.
In FY19, Downer successfully launched our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for 2019-2021, which reaffirms our commitment to the reconciliation process and builds on our Reflect RAP which has been delivered successfully. Promoting Indigenous culture and building the cultural awareness of our workforce is critical to building relationships based on trust and respect. This not only upholds our values, but also contributes to the improved quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Some of the key initiatives that we implemented to drive this commitment under our Innovate RAP in FY20 include:
- Participating in National Reconciliation Week across the organisation. This year we celebrated via online channels due to COVID-19
- Inviting Traditional Owners and participating in smoking ceremonies at the commencement of projects
- Continuing to build Indigenous engagement awareness and capability in our people through the launch of our Indigenous Cultural Awareness Training for Leaders program. The program is delivered via an eLearn and is completed by employees at Supervisor level and above. This builds on the existing knowledge and cultural competence of Downer’s leaders to understand the history, cultural norms and protocols of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Through this, our leaders will be able to better support and manage our Indigenous workforce and engage with Indigenous organisations and communities
- Providing support systems to the business to increase procurement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. This resulted in a 92.6 per cent increase in procurement spend with Indigenous businesses from FY19 to FY20.
Additionally, our Spotless business successfully closed out its Innovate RAP, having implemented all initiatives. Spotless and Downer are aligning activities to support our shared commitment to reconciliation and improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Employment of diverse/vulnerable groups
Māori comprise 24 per cent of our 12,000 strong workforce in New Zealand. Our Māori culture and development programs are highly visible demonstrations of Downer’s commitment to supporting cultural diversity.
Downer has implemented a key strategic initiative to embrace our Aotearoa heritage and culture and to integrate aspects of Te Reo (Māori language) and Tikanga (Māori customs and traditions) into our daily interactions with our people, customers and business partners.
This cultural competence initiative has specific goals to:
- Support greater diversity and inclusion through embracing diverse cultures
- Recognise that our large government customer base has requirements to work in partnership with Māori, and increasing our capability will enhance our ability to work alongside them
- Enhance our established relationships with Iwi (Māori tribe) developed through existing employment and development programs.
Downer’s Māori Leadership Development program, Te Ara Whanake, has been a key initiative to help attract and retain Māori in a tight labour market. The program has proven highly successful among our people, with 197 completing it to date and a further 70 currently
undertaking the program. Through Te Ara Whanake, participants have strengthened their Māori identity and been empowered to role model this, both inside the organisation and in their communities. The success of this multiple award-winning program has provided the catalyst for broader culturally-focused programs within New Zealand. For example, we now use Mihi (Māori greeting) to open meetings, Te Reo is becoming more widely used, and Māori blessings and other cultural practices are becoming part of Downer New Zealand’s DNA.
Non-Māori leaders continue to participate in Te Ara Whanake, which gives them a deeper understanding of Māori history, culture and Tikanga. These participants have become active proponents of celebrating cultural diversity within Downer. The demand from non-Māori leaders to take part in this program has resulted in the creation of a new program, Te Ara Māramatanga.
Downer has tracked hours delivered for its Indigenous Cultural Awareness Training (ICAT), Te Ara Whanake training and Te Ara Māramatanga training for the first time in FY20. In FY20, the total hours delivered across the three programs were 3,92213.
- A breakdown of employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by gender for 2019 was not available due to limitations in data used for reporting purposes in the 2019 Sustainability Report.
- The boundary of the reporting of hours delivered for ICAT, Te Ara Whanake training and Te Ara Māramatanga training is limited to records contained in the Downer Learning, Tandem and CSI Learning platforms, and the centralised spreadsheet maintained by the CSO team (for Te Ara Whanake and Te Ara Māramatanga training).