As an organisation, we recognise the importance of operating in a sustainable manner, thus meeting the needs of today without jeopardising our ability to meet the needs of tomorrow. While we are still in the early stages of our sustainability journey, this section outlines our approach. For specific details regarding our progress and performance, please see our integrated reporting section.
Management accountability is integral to our approach to sustainability, but the board of directors is, ultimately, responsible. The board embraces the recommendation within the King Code of Corporate Governance Principles for South Africa (King III) that sustainability be integrated into the governance and strategy of an organisation.
Engaging with our stakeholders is also a key aspect of our approach to sustainability. We seek to elicit the views and concerns of stakeholders — including, but not limited to, shareholders, clients, suppliers, employees, analysts, regulatory authorities, civil society organisations and academics — and to incorporate these into our sustainability strategy.
The Global Reporting Initiative
When measuring our progress towards sustainability, we are guided by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting guidelines and the GRI Construction and Real Estate Sector Supplement (CRESS) and we believe that the information provided on this website, together with our annual integrated report, fulfils these requirements.
Our people are the key stakeholders of the organisation and essential to its continued success and sustainability. As a result, we are committed to providing a safe, healthy and enabling workplace that is characterised by mutual respect, fairness, integrity, non-discrimination, equal opportunities and open, two-way engagement.
Owing to the geographic diversity of our workforce, we have developed appropriate global, regional and site-based policies and programmes. We follow the guidelines promulgated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and comply with all legislation governing conditions of employment and labour relations in the countries in which we operate.
Employee remuneration and benefits
At WBHO, we undertake to provide all potential and existing employees with equal opportunities in terms of recruitment, promotion, transfer, employee benefits, training and conditions of service. We provide well-structured employment contracts and fair and competitive remuneration.
Remuneration for people employed or contracted with WBHO is determined by management with reference to the remuneration policy and with oversight from the Remuneration committee (remco), a committee of the main board.
The principles that guide our approach to remuneration include the following: providing competitive remuneration packages that are realistic for the markets within which the group operates; rewarding high-performing employees for the contribution made in the region, division or company for which they work; creating key performance indicators (KPIs) that are based on specified economic, social and environmental targets; designing incentive packages to reward performance (including share-based incentives for key personnel); and non-financial rewards and recognition to ensure key employee retention.
We offer an equal rate of pay to both male and female employees of equivalent experience and we have committed to supporting the Workplace Opportunities for Women (WOW) initiative in Australia. Over and above the legally mandated employment benefits, we provide our full-time employees with retirement funding and medical scheme benefits.
When hiring employees in Africa, we give preference to members of the local community where possible and, in some cases, offer training opportunities to community members that will allow them to develop the skills they need to be employed by the group.
Employee relations and industrial action
WBHO recognises the rights of its employees to engage in collective bargaining and a large majority of employees in South Africa are covered by collective bargaining agreements. We have recognition agreements in place with both the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Building Construction and Allied Workers Union (BCAWU) in South Africa and adhere to collective bargaining agreements, with due regard to the relevant legislation.
WBHO does not tolerate discrimination and also upholds the rights of its employees to freedom of association. Potential employees are also advised of their rights in this regard.
We consult with employees in advance of any significant operational changes and we consult with unions with the aim of reaching agreement. Negotiations on substantive matters take place at industry level with the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC) and the representative unions.
While this process covers the majority of our hourly-paid employees, the balance of our personnel is covered by various bargaining council and voluntary bargaining forum agreements. In Australia, we have successfully negotiated four enterprise bargaining agreements across the group, which assist in providing predictability in the forecasting of costs and ensuring consistency across the group.
Development and training
Whenever possible, we identify internal talent for development rather than hire from outside and have a policy of developing and promoting people from within the group. Investing in the development of our people is a pro-active way of ensuring the long-term success and sustainability of our business.
Our focus is on ensuring all employees have access to training and development programmes that are relevant to their positions in the company and their personal growth.
We spend time and effort supporting government and industry education initiatives as well, for instance, we have registered qualified engineers as Mentors with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) to assist candidates within the organisation to obtain the Professional Engineering (PR Eng) designation, which we consider to be impartial. In South Africa, WBHO complies with all of the requirements of the Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA) and a comprehensive Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) has been drafted and submitted.
Started in July 2012, the WBHO Core Contracting Competency Framework (C4) provides a robust and scalable career development model, for positions from Site Engineer to Contracts Director, and beyond, with agreed levels of proficiency at each step.
WBHO has developed an in-house training programme that focuses on young engineers who have joined our company within the first three years of their careers. This programme covers: the policies and procedures of the company; administration functions and contact details; quality; environment; safety; tendering; together with a visit to our plant and services yard.
WBHO has also developed an in-house training programme that focuses on Site Agents and Assistant Site Agents with between three and six years of experience. Topics covered by this programme include: scaffolding; costing; sub contractors; brickwork etc.
WBHO uses an external provider to conduct ‘Celebrating Diversity’ training for the company. This training intervention is an ongoing process. For further information regarding the number of employees who have received diversity training, please see the Training and Skills Development report in our integrated reporting section.
Training on anti-corruption procedures is outsourced to an external provider, Compliance Online. The training is completed online by senior management and all staff involved in tenders and procurement.
Please see the Downloads section for relevant policies, certificates and supporting documentation.
Construction is inherently a high risk activity and we recognise that we have a moral and legal obligation to safeguard and protect the wellbeing of our people. We strive for a work environment that achieves ‘zero harm’, which means operating without fatalities and the minimum of lost-time injuries (view our current LTIFR in the health and safety review. ). We also recognise that our Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) responsibility extends beyond WBHO employees and encompasses every stakeholder involved on one of our projects.
The board assumes overall responsibility for the safety of our employees and stakeholders through the Social and ethics committee and each operational manager assumes responsibility for safety within their individual business units, ensuring that the group Safety Management System (OHSAS 18001:2007 certified) and company OHS policies and procedures are implemented on every project.
Safety Management System
The WBHO Safety Management System (SMS) ensures that our approach to safety is documented and methodical. Based on a comprehensive set of explicit procedures and records, the SMS defines how risk is identified and managed by the company. The objective of the SMS is to improve our safety performance continuously through the seamless integration of planning, implementation and performance review processes.
Establishing a culture of safety
We also recognise that policies and procedures alone do not create a safe working environment and continue to entrench a culture in which our employees assume responsibility for their own safety. We are also working to extend this culture outside of work — at home and with their families — by making safety an automatic, innate consideration.
As part of our preventative efforts, we are encouraging an environment in which employees can report ‘near-misses’ without fear of reprisal, so that solutions that will prevent similar incidents from happening in the future can be devised and implemented.
We also have an incentive programme in place that rewards employees and stakeholders when OSH targets and objectives are achieved on a project (typically, targets are set for every 500 000 injury-free hour tranches that are met).
WBHO provides two types of safety training: labour on-site and management. Labour on-site safety training topics include: working at heights; scaffold erecting and dismantling; scaffold inspection; manual material handling; rigging and slinging; training in the use of electrical power and hand tools; and administering basic medical assistance (first aid). This training takes, on average, between two and three days to complete.
Management safety training topics include: incident investigation; legal liability; construction regulations; safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ); a safety management training course; construction regulations; and hazard identification and risk assessment (HIRA). Management training also takes, on average, between two and three days to complete.
Medical fitness programme
WBHO has a medical fitness programme in place through which every employee is tested to ensure that he or she is considered fit to work in a construction environment. The programme has been most successful in managing high-risk medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and epilepsy, as well as occupational diseases.
We recognise that HIV/AIDS has a significant impact on our business, both in terms of our fellow employees and the broader communities and markets in which we operate. The majority of people suffering with HIV/AIDS live in Africa, hence our strong interest in supporting awareness, testing and treatment programmes.
WBHO has an HIV/AIDS Policy (In our health and safety review) that describes our commitment to confidentiality, non-discrimination and to developing/implementing programmes for treatment and prevention. We also conduct regular HIV/AIDS awareness, counselling and testing programmes. Further awareness is generated though our ‘toolbox talks’ and posters that are distributed to sites and regional offices.
With regards treatment, we provide Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to permanent employees through a medical aid scheme and managed healthcare provider. Non-permanent employees are provided with five counselling sessions before being transferred to state services.
In addition, we support numerous community-based programmes through our CSI investments and initiatives and further detail regarding these can be found in our commemorative book, The Road to Transformation (available for download as a PDF document).
> Please see the Downloads section for relevant policies, certificates and supporting documentation.
WBHO takes its commitment to transformation seriously. Transformation has always been a personal priority for the current chairman, Mike Wylie, who chaired the formation of the Construction Industry Transformation Charter and Constitution with James Ngobeni from 2003 through to 2011, and it is a priority that continues to be debated, planned and reviewed at the highest levels of the organisation.
WBHO reviews its transformation targets and performance on a regular basis. The Executive committee meets quarterly to review all seven elements of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Charter scorecard and to set and revise targets, which are then communicated to the board. For further detail regarding our BBBEE Scorecard, please see the transformation review in our online integrated report.
Enterprise Development Programme
WBHO subscribed to the principle of small business development prior to legislative requirements. Research indicates that 93% of emerging construction contractors (SMMEs) are unable to sustain a business past a three-year period. Upon further investigation, it became clear that business/management knowledge was the missing ingredient that needed augmentation.
In direct response to this state of affairs, the WBHO Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) was formulated with the following objectives in mind:
The EDP model supports this development by identifying the right personnel within WBHO to mentor and guide the people performing the same roles within the emerging contractor. External training interventions by subject experts are also sponsored when specific needs are identified.
The explicit aim of the programme is to develop the protégé to achieve independent operational capacity at the maximum potential level of the company. The model is designed to ensure that the support that WBHO provides to the emerging contractor is slowly withdrawn, throughout the levels of development, in an agreed and structured way.
> Please see the Downloads section for relevant policies, certificates and supporting documentation.
WBHO considers Corporate Social Investment (CSI) to be a moral responsibility rather than a contractual obligation. Our CSI programmes are focused on providing assistance and upliftment to communities in the areas in which we operate, especially in remote rural locations. We seek to support infrastructural projects, such as the building or repair of schools, crèches and clinics, as these play to our strengths and expertise as a construction company, as well as providing tangible and measurable benefits to the community directly. We also favour sustainable projects that will provide ongoing benefits to the community, such as long-term employment.
The construction industry is currently deemed a high impact industry and we fully acknowledge our moral and legal responsibility to safeguard the environment and the wellbeing of all those affected by the activities of the company. We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of environmental protection throughout every phase of the construction process and seek to do so by rigorously applying the best practice principles of environmental management.
We have embraced the importance of protecting the environment and have made sustainable development one of our overall strategic goals. We strive to achieve this goal in four key ways: being transparent about our environmental management; maintaining an environmental management system (EMS) that is compliant with ISO 14001 international standards; minimising our construction footprint by adhering to all legislative requirements; and by improving awareness throughout the organisation through training initiatives.
Environmental risks and opportunities are considered in strategic decision making and planning processes and reported on using risk registers at site, division and executive management levels within the organisation. Ultimate responsibility for our environmental policy and management rests with the board via the Social and ethics committee.
Another important part of our environmental management process is engaging with stakeholders whose environment could be impacted by our projects or who could impact the environment within the vicinity of our projects. We engage with local communities, government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), our clients, consultants and subcontractors in this regard.
For further information regarding our current environmental achievements and performance, please see the Environment review available in the Supplementary Information section of our latest online integrated report.
Incidents and compliance
We aim to achieve zero environmental incidents throughout all of our operations. We monitor, report, investigate and remediate any incidents and apply lessons learnt through root cause analysis to prevent similar events occurring in the future.
Key environmental issues and impacts
We have identified the following key environmental issues and impacts:
As an organisation, we acknowledge that climate change is perhaps the biggest threat facing the planet; consequently, we are committed to making a concerted effort to operate in an ever more energy-efficient and sustainable manner. We also acknowledge that carbon emission reduction is an essential element in the fight against climate change and have participated in the international Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) since 2007.
Senior responsibility for climate change-related issues belongs to Mr Paul Foley, Group Managing Director (MD) of our Building and Civil engineering division and a member of the Executive committee.
The risks and opportunities associated with climate change are regularly assessed and the overall impact of these risks and opportunities on the business are considered. Our policy regarding climate change is also informed by international and national governmental agendas, such as the current proposals regarding carbon taxation, and we monitor the relevant green and white papers in this regard.
Carbon Disclosure Project
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) provides a framework through which a company can measure and disclose the size of its ‘carbon footprint’ or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. WBHO continues to participate in the project and further information regarding the current carbon footprint and disclosure score of the company can be found in our integrated reporting section.
Our current objective is to improve our carbon disclosure data further and achieve a carbon emission baseline that is accurate enough to be able to start setting meaningful quantitative targets and objectives in this critical area.
A training matrix is used to ensure that all employees undergo appropriate training on topics such as general awareness, legal compliance, spill training, waste management, Green Building, ISO 14001 and protected areas and species. Ongoing training programmes include induction sessions and ‘toolbox talks’.
‘Green buildings’ are designed, built and operated in an environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient manner. The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) rates buildings according to a series of environmental and energy-related specifications and WBHO has been an active member of the GBCSA since 2013. The WBHO Green Building team has also developed a management system to streamline the approval process, helping sub-contractors to adhere to the specifications and submit the correct paperwork.