Woolworths believes there was a clear underlying theme that defined this period - in both ambition and impact - and that was support for the most vulnerable members of the community.
To support Indigenous communities not usually a part of Woolworths’ supply chain network, the business supported their competitor Metcash with donations, including 15 tonnes of flour, and diverted other stock to them in order to get food supplies to remote communities.
In addition, Woolworths supported local retailers including ALPA, Outback Stores and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council with donations of more than 6,500 basics boxes or about 100 tonnes of essential supplies.
To help vulnerable Australians, some of the solutions Woolworths came up with included a community shopping hour to give senior citizens and vulnerable members of the community a safer in-store experience during COVID. They also ramped up their online delivery and introduced priority access.
To ensure the success of this initiative, Woolworths established a dedicated team to support the thousands of (mainly) elderly Australians that were now, for the first time, utilising IT for their shopping. Call rates more than doubled, from an average of 60,000 calls per week to 140,000.
To recognise the extraordinary efforts of their employees in supporting the community, Woolworths announced a specific team recognition award that has led to 106,000 team members becoming shareholders of the company, creating the largest employee share ownership plan in Australia.
Woolworths also moved quickly to support companies like Qantas and Virgin with 2,200 Qantas employees alone joining Woolworths, and 1,200 remain with the company to this day.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said, “…our Prime Minister has spoken of ‘quiet Australians’, just as President Obama spoke of ‘quiet heroes’ when describing those that are not famous, work hard every day, don’t seek the limelight and just try to do the right thing. I am exceptionally proud of Woolworths’ 200,000 ‘quiet Australian heroes’.’’
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