Our Urban Services strategy delivers many environmental and social benefits. For example, the sale of our Laundries and Mining businesses will not only substantially reduce the Group’s capital expenditure, it will also support our decarbonisation pathway by significantly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
In December 2020, we enhanced our reputation as a sustainability leader by establishing a $1.4 billion Sustainability Linked Loan (SLL) – the largest in Australia in 2020. The loan is underpinned by KPI metrics relating to Downer’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions and social sustainability (being cultural awareness and mental health and wellbeing training of Downer employees). If these KPIs are realised, Downer’s borrowing costs will be lower.
This means our economic outcomes are now directly linked to our sustainability performance. It is a big step on Downer’s sustainability journey, and validation of our long-held commitment to operate in a sustainable manner.
In FY21, Downer revisited our materiality assessment, which is an important piece of independent research to identify the issues that matter most to the business and our stakeholders. The results of this research shape the content in this report and inform our business strategies. The most pleasing aspect of this year’s materiality assessment is the close alignment in the views of our people and our external stakeholders, demonstrating that Downer understands our stakeholders and markets.
Health and safety again ranked as Downer’s most important material issue in the materiality assessment, reinforcing the importance of our strong Zero Harm culture. Downer consistently performs well across key safety indicators, including Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) and Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR). In FY21, Downer’s LTIFR was 0.99 per million hours worked and TRIFR was 2.60 per million hours worked.
A growing focus in health and safety strategies is mental health and, again, Downer is a leader in this space. We introduced a Group-wide function in 2018 to change the conversation around mental health and provide support for our people. In May, we took our commitment to health and wellness a step further, by partnering with Beyond Blue to also support the mental health of our communities across Australia.
We were the Matched Giving Partner for Beyond Blue’s 2021 fundraising campaign, which saw Downer double all donations given to Beyond Blue through the campaign up to a total of $250,000. Beyond Blue estimates our support will ensure that over 14,500 people get access to support as they navigate pivotable times in their mental health. This partnership is something that all Downer’s stakeholders should be proud of.
We also continued to support the growth of our people in FY21. An important initiative was the launch of our first Group-wide women’s empowerment and capability building program in March. We initially launched the pilot program in two States – New South Wales and Victoria. But the overwhelming response and expressions of interest from our people led to the expansion of the pilot to include Queensland, ACT and Western Australia.
Managing our business to be sustainable over the long term has always been front of mind for Downer’s Board. In March, we reaffirmed this commitment by appointing Julie Wills to the new role of Group Head of Sustainability. Julie, who has done an outstanding job as Downer’s Group Head of Zero Harm over many years, has also been responsible for guiding the Group’s strategies, policies and reporting on sustainability.
Improving our sustainability reporting and disclosure has been one of our priorities in recent years, and this has been recognised by a number of independent organisations – for example, S&P Global ranked Downer in the top 650 of 7,000 companies globally and listed Downer in its Sustainability Yearbook 2021 because our sustainability performance is within the top 15 per cent for our industry sector. Downer was also awarded Industry Mover status, for the company with the strongest year-on-year score improvement in our industry.
These achievements would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our people. Thank you to all our employees, customers, communities, business partners, contractors and suppliers for your continued support.
Downer Group CEO