Commonwealth Bank Sustainability Reporting 2016


Treat all people with fairness
and respect

Our people are the key to our success and we are committed to creating a positive, inclusive and respectful work environment where our people can do their best work every day.

The Group has zero tolerance to any discrimination, bullying or harassment in the workplace and is committed to further building an inclusive culture where different perspectives are valued.

We also have a range of programs to ensure we treat our people, as well as customers, stakeholders and the wider community with fairness and respect, including our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Reconciliation Action Plan.

Progress on diversity and inclusion

In the 2016 financial year we made strong progress on diversity and inclusion. We appointed our sixth woman to the Executive Committee, our fourth woman to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Board, and received "Elevate" status for our Reconciliation Action Plan.

Our employee network Unity was recognised as the 2016 LGBTI Employee Network of the Year in the Australian Workplace Equality Index awards. In those same awards we were named the second most inclusive workplace in Australia, while Bankwest placed 19th. And we retained our status as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

Image of WGEA, AWEI award logos (diversity and inclusion awards)

Our success is underpinned by our 2015-2017 Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, which provides a roadmap for us to enhance our culture so that all people feel included and connected. The strategy comprises five strategic goals – Diversity in Leadership; Inclusive Culture; You Can Be You; Flexibility; and Reputation and Engagement.

Our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy is built on five key focus areas:

Diversity in leadership

Our leaders reflect the diversity in our community with diverse thinking and perspectives.

Different cultural backgrounds, identities, ages, experience and education will help us achieve our business objectives and goals.

Inclusive culture

We strive to create an inclusive culture where everyone belongs because of their uniqueness – a place where ‘you can be you’ to do your best every day to achieve the organisation’s vision.

You can be you

We value the individuality, needs, different perspectives and ambitions of our people that are informed by their gender, age, cultural identity, sexual orientation and/or disability.


We cultivate a supportive and flexible work environment that meets the needs of our people and business.

Reputation and engagement

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia is an employer of choice and an authentic leader of diversity and inclusion.

Image of a man and a woman representing retention of Commonwealth Bank of Australia's WGEA citation

Retained Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) citation

Sharron Botica, Sovereign HR Director (left) and Symon Brewis, former Sovereign CEO (right) receiving Rainbow Tick certification from Rainbow Tick Programme Director Michael Stevens (centre)

Diversity in leadership

In 2015 the Group made a further commitment to women in senior leadership roles by announcing a 40 per cent target for women in Executive Manager and above positions by 2020. Women currently make up nearly 60 per cent of our workforce. 43.6 per cent are in management roles, with 35.2 per cent in Executive Manager and above roles. The Group is a signatory to the United Nations Women's Empowerment Principles.

In May 2016, in accordance with the requirements of the Workplace Gender Equality (WGE) Act 2012, the Group's annual WGE Compliance report was lodged with the WGE Agency. Our Chief Executive Officer, Ian Narev, also became a Pay Equity Ambassador with the WGE Agency, and in September 2015 we released a pay equity case study with the WGE Agency.

We are also proud to partner with the Australian National Committee for UN Women to accelerate gender equality and female empowerment.

"Women comprise nearly 60 per cent of our workforce. We have a business and moral imperative to build an inclusive culture, and gender equality is a key focus for us. To focus our efforts and create accountability we have set a new target of 40 per cent for women in senior leadership positions by 2020. To achieve this, one in every two new appointments at these levels will need to be female."
- Ian Narev, Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Officer

In Australia and everywhere the Commonwealth Bank of Australia operates, we serve diverse communities. To do that successfully, we must ourselves reflect these communities in the people we hire, empower and promote, to make a difference to the financial wellbeing of the people in those communities.

Cultural diversity is an important part of that. So we have set a goal to match the cultural diversity of our senior leaders to the cultural diversity of the Australian population by 2020.

Image of hands shaking representing the release of Commonwealth Bank of Australia's latest Reconciliation Action Plan

Released 'Elevate' Reconciliation Action Plan

Launching our 'Elevate' Reconciliation Action Plan

In June 2016 we launched our fifth Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), achieving 'Elevate' status, the highest level of endorsement from Reconciliation Australia. As part of this RAP, we committed to significantly raise the number of Indigenous Australians we employ, with an aim of achieving Indigenous employment parity within 10 years.

The parity announcement is the latest stage in Commonwealth Bank’s Indigenous Careers Program, which launched in 2002. Key developments in the program to date include:

  • Ran a school-based traineeship program for Indigenous teens (more than 400 trainees have progressed through the program since 2002);
  • Established partnerships with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF) in 2008 and the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) in 2010 to support their important work providing Indigenous youth with the right foundations for a prosperous career;
  • Committed to provide at least 25 Indigenous university students with internship placements each year until 2025; and;
  • Recruited three additional Indigenous university graduates into the 2016 Graduate Program.

Other key initiatives included in our RAP are:

  • An Indigenous employment partnership with Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council - the Bank's first such employment partnership with an Aboriginal Land Council. This partnership will see a School-Based Trainee or a Full-Time Trainee in every one of Commonwealth Bank’s branches in Darkinjung Country on the NSW Central Coast.
  • A new Indigenous Business Banking Strategy, which is led by a dedicated National Manager for Indigenous Business Banking.
  • The Bank’s latest partnership with Supply Nation, which connects skilled volunteers from Supply Nation’s corporate and government partners with their Indigenous suppliers to provide timely business coaching support.
  • Research into how Commonwealth Bank can best support leadership and governance development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boards.
  • A partnership with Blackcard, a Supply Nation-certified business, to develop a Group-wide Cultural Capability Framework which is being rolled out this year. This framework is designed to help our people develop the skills to build strong relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, businesses and communities.

Workplace flexibility

We are committed to creating an environment where our people can do their best work every day. For many of our people, this means more flexibility and choice about how, when and where they work, particularly through different stages of lives and careers.

We understand that flexibility is not just for parents with caring responsibilities. We recognise that everyone will need some form of flexibility at some point in their lives — for carers, for elite sportspeople, for passion pursuers, for commuters, for people living with a disability, for millennials and those looking to transition to another phase of their lives. No two people are the same - neither are their needs for flexibility. This is why we have made our flexibility policy 'reason-neutral'. This means that no one reason for requesting flexibility is any more or less legitimate than another.

In the 2016 financial year, we committed to reviewing, simplifying and automating the flexibility process; and supporting employees and managers to be able to have the conversations that lead to more successful flexibility arrangements.

Reputation and engagement

Our people and culture survey results provide insight into the strength of our culture and the engagement of our people. This year we saw an increased response rate at 84 per cent. Despite a dip in engagement scores from 81 per cent to 77 per cent, our underlying results tell us that our culture remains strong and our people are engaged. We will continue our focus on building a values driven culture to attract and retain the best people to deliver the very best outcomes for our customers and the communities we serve.

During the 2016 financial year we launched a series of Vision and Values workshops across our organisation. These workshops explored in a very practical way how we can use our vision and values to guide our behaviour and decision-making. The workshops focused in particular on ensuring that our policies and processes lead to us "doing the right thing", and making sure that all employees feel encouraged to speak up.

Building on our accessibility and inclusion programs

We continued to roll out a number of initiatives to deliver more accessible services and better employment access for people with a disability during 2016, including building the confidence of leaders and people through disability training and awareness building campaigns.

Embedding accessible thinking into our operating systems is key. That’s why we’ve also established an internal Digital Accessibility Guild, to share better practice and knowledge amongst the Commonwealth Bank's IT community.

Taking action on domestic and family violence

As a leading company, we have a responsibility to raise awareness of domestic violence, and to provide practical support for those experiencing domestic and family violence – including for our people.

In 2015 we developed a strategy to be part of a whole of community movement to end domestic violence in a generation. The strategy aims to provide a safe place to work, support our customers in crisis, champion gender equality, promote financial independence, and publicly advocate for change.

In the 2016 financial year we continued to roll out a number of initiatives to support our people and customers who are suffering the physical, emotional and financial impact of abuse. Measures in place include:

  • Domestic and family violence training for relevant employees
  • Domestic violence toolkits for employees and managers, including how to build a personal safety plan, support and counselling contacts
  • Special Leave options
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for our people and their immediate families
  • Services and support relating to financial hardship through our Employee Banking and Customer Assist Teams

We are also proud to partner with the Australian National Committee for UN Women to accelerate gender equality and female empowerment.

Talent attraction and retention

During the 2016 financial year our talent acquisition strategy has continued to focus on building the organisation’s brand and reputation as a magnet for talent within core capability segments including technology, analytics, customer-centric design, recent graduates and senior leaders. In each segment, we have placed a particular focus on attracting diverse talent (as well as more broadly across our business). Our employment proposition focuses on our role as the industry leader in technology, innovation, and the opportunity to work within an inclusive, diverse, values-based culture.

In addition to better talent attraction strategies, our focus on internal employees has been on building capability and mobilising internal talent across our businesses. During the 2016 financial year we overhauled our internal talent review processes, simplifying the experience for line managers, providing a portal for employees to better understand their work preferences and career pathways, and improving the quality of career development and succession planning as a result. This has allowed us to provide a more agile response to changing business needs and to engage and retain top talent looking for diverse experiences which accelerate their leadership development.