Organisational diversity and inclusion are important for enabling effective delivery of our business strategy.


The Group human resources function, in addition to delivering key strategic initiatives, supports driving synergies and efficiencies across the Group given the changing social and business environment. Each financial year has a focus, and the current focuses are as follows:

  • Horizon 1 (FY22) | Establish best-in-class talent practices
  • Horizon 2 (FY23) | Embed our Employee Value Proposition
  • Horizon 3 (FY24) | Grow and develop our leaders

The focuses are driven by three strategic pillars that aim to attract, develop and retain the right talent.

As a Group, it is important for us to ensure that we employ and invest in people who share our brand purpose, values, and passion to help grow a future-fit business. Our Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is aimed at attracting, developing, and retaining talent that enables us to create a diverse staff complement to deliver on our strategy. It is important that we implement an Employee Value Proposition that nurtures a unique employee experience. Through regional oversight of our people strategies, we can deliver a compelling value proposition that is customised toward meeting the unique employee needs in our areas of operation.

The Group people strategies emphasise a people experience that will enable a differentiated customer experience, albeit in varying regional contexts. In Woolworths, the broader African socio-economic and political context in which the organisation exists – and in which our people live – is considered. In Country Road Group, the focus on business sustainability through ensuring the right culture and optimising processes to build a strong business in the region is a key focus.

The people strategy for Woolworths is focused on our people experience as we returned to work from the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and the key areas below, with the aim to empower, partner and lead so that our people are confident, capable, and connected:

  • Fostering a future-fit human resources leadership and team
  • Ensuring that the business has future-fit processes, policies, systems, and data
  • Encouraging experience innovation
  • Adopting a culture premised on inclusive justice, diversity, and inclusion

The people strategy in Country Road Group is focused on the key areas below, with the aim of becoming a leading, purpose-driven employer of first choice:

  • A compelling employee value proposition: a compelling value proposition that our people join and stay for
  • A high-growth culture: A high-performing and inclusive culture that grows current and future leadership and talent
  • A connected digital experience: A seamless digital experience that connects our team and enables rich people insights
  • Operational excellence: Simple processes and practices that deliver efficient and effective outcomes



Towards the end of last year, the Group began implementing its new operating model with the intention to reduce complexity in our business and provide opportunities for us to work more efficiently and effectively.

Our Group’s ambition is to be a leading, purpose-driven, truly-connected retailer and, within our operating model, to emphasise the strategic importance of our greatest resource – our people – and to appoint a senior leader at the WHL Exco level to drive the human resources agenda was an imperative. To this end, Roy Bagattini, WHL Group CEO, announced in May 2022 the appointment of Melanie Naidu as the new WHL Group People Director. Reporting directly to Roy, Melanie is accountable for the full scope of human resources across all our geographies, including our human resources strategies and the various centres of excellence. A key focus will be the implementation of an integrated People Strategy to drive organisational goals with an effective People Team across the Group.


While navigating the new ways of working as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, we have continued our focus on driving streamlined regional strategies for Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The pandemic highlighted the focus on our people, who continued to remain committed and passionate during exceptionally difficult times. The imperative for both regions has, therefore, been to provide support to our people through initiatives such as wellness offerings, and to adopt ways of working that position us for shared growth as the long-term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are understood and addressed.

We continued to entrench our purpose and values through continuous employee engagement and building our organisational leadership capability, as well as investing in the wellbeing of our people. Our people are looking for a differentiated experience. We also appreciate that there is a direct link between the people experience and the customer experience – and one step further, that the people experience is largely a function of how they experience their leaders.

Therefore, at a Group level, we continue to focus on building our competitive advantage through our people, with a focus on a leading and integrated talent experience, improving our talent processes, and building leadership capability among our senior leaders.

Our strategies are driven through various mechanisms, including the WHL Exco and the Excos of our businesses, the People Leadership Teams, human resources forums, and Town Hall sessions. We have also focused on further entrenching our values, building leadership capabilities that are aligned to our values, and digitising our operations – not only for better delivery to our overall business strategy but also to facilitate agile communication with our staff.

From a talent-management perspective, our Group talent forums are embedded as part of our Group talent practices, focusing on senior management across the Group to attract, inspire, develop, reward and retain the best talent.


The ethos of our Inclusive Justice Initiative (IJI) is one of inspiring inclusive growth for our employees and communities. We aim to instil practices and foster a culture that advances dignity, freedom, and equality for everyone – leaving no one behind.

As a Group, we are committed to addressing and eliminating inequality, marginalisation and discrimination, through our policies, practices, and daily practices – thus entrenching an Inclusive Justice ethos as we do business. IJI focuses on matters relating to, for example racism, gender equality, gender-based violence, LGBTQIA+ rights, reconciliation, social and community development, fair and responsible pay, economic inclusion, as well as indigenisation. One of the key themes in our IJI is women empowerment and gender equality.


Woolworths’ Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) Programme, for example, aims to stimulate the growth of an inclusive South African economy. At the heart of our ESD programme is unlocking market opportunities for small, Black and Black-owned small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs).

Our approach to ESD support acknowledges that every SMME is a unique business with dynamics unique to the lead entrepreneur or/and owner and unique to the industry.

For this reason, we offer tailored support in every way possible. Sometimes, this entails innovative means such as facility sharing, cash flow support or linkages with other enablers such as partnering with established suppliers, financiers or other like-minded partners.


More information on the focus area and our performance thereon can be found in our annual Good Business Journey Report


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