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Home / case studies / Case study: How Wharf creates an inclusive and positive working environment

Case study: How Wharf creates an inclusive and positive working environment

Established in 1886, Wharf (Holdings) Limited is a respected real estate investment Hong Kong company primarily engaged in Hong Kong development properties, Mainland China development and investment properties, and hospitality management. Wharf is committed to promoting a rewarding, harmonious, healthy and safe working environment, seeking to be an employer of choice.  Tweet This!

This case study is based on the 2018 Sustainability Report by Wharf published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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An inclusive and positive workplace creates synergy among employees and promotes productivity at work. Wharf endeavours to create a respectful workplace and rewarding work experience for every employee, promoting work-life balance, health and safety, equal opportunities, and human rights for its people. In order to create an inclusive and positive working environment Wharf took action to:

  • promote regular two-way communication
  • improve employee wellbeing

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2018 Sustainability Report Wharf identified a range of material issues, such as customer privacy, environmental compliance, marketing and labelling, socioeconomic compliance, training and education. Among these, creating an inclusive and positive working environment stands out as a key material issue for Wharf.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Wharf engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Employees

 

 

·      Surveys and focus groups

·      Town hall meetings

·      Intranet and internal publications

Shareholders, investors and financial analysts ·      General meetings

·      Financial Reports, announcements and circular(s)

·      Corporate communications and company websites

·      Focus groups

Customers ·      Surveys and focus groups

·      Social media platforms

·      Service centres and hotlines

Government, regulatory bodies and industry associations ·      Regulatory taskforces and committees

·      Industry operational meetings

·      Forums and conferences

Media

 

 

·      Media briefings and luncheons

·      Executive interviews

·      Instant internet updates

Business partners (including suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors) ·      Tendering

·      Operational meetings

·      Contract and performance review

·      Focus groups

Local community

 

·      Community investment programmes

·      Company visits

·      Social media platforms

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) ·      Programme partnership meetings

·      Regular programme review and assessment

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Wharf surveyed stakeholders online, to rank the materiality of various sustainability issues.

What actions were taken by Wharf to create an inclusive and positive working environment?

In its 2018 Sustainability Report Wharf reports that it took the following actions for creating an inclusive and positive working environment:

  • Promoting regular two-way communication
  • Wharf seeks to understand its employees through engagement activities and regular two-way communication. Communication channels include internal newsletters, staff surveys, luncheons, town hall meetings, and the company intranet. Additionally, Wharf’s staff grievances policy also helps to resolve labour issues in the workplace. Wharf records all grievances and corresponding actions, to refine its human resources management strategy.
  • Improving employee wellbeing
  • Wharf cares about its employees’ overall wellness, both physical and mental. Individual BUs (business units) offer complimentary pre-employment and regular health checks, counselling services, outpatient and hospitalisation coverage, special dental service rates and subsidised meals, along with nursery rooms to help balance employees’ work and personal life, enabling them to meet their family responsibilities. Wharf also arranges staff engagement events like recreational activities, outings, interest classes, and team-building events to help employees relax from work. In 2018, investment properties organised a series of thematic wellbeing activities around the theme of Happy Appreciation. Participants went through different appreciation journeys that included the following:
    • Better Me: Chinese Calligraphy is an art form with long history. Participants learnt to keep a calm mind to carefully decide, construct and write each stroke, which in turn strengthened their mind.
    • Thank Others: Wharf organised museum visits for employees to enjoy with their family members. Wharf ‘s employees could spend more quality time with their children, and nurture closer parent-child relations.
    • Admire Beauty: Wharf organised a ukulele class for its employees to learn this special musical instrument and open their ears to the beautiful music.
    • Honour Tradition: Chinese paper-cutting is a complicated traditional art, which requires patience and craftsmanship. Wharf arranged a learning class for its employees, to enhance their understanding of this tradition.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 401-2 Benefits provided to full-time employees that are not provided to temporary or part-time employees

2) Disclosure 402-1 Minimum notice periods regarding operational changes

 

Disclosure 401-2 Benefits provided to full-time employees that are not provided to temporary or part-time employees corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Earnings, wages and benefits

Disclosure 402-1 Minimum notice periods regarding operational changes corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Labor/management relations

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.



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By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI-Standards Certified and IEMA approved Course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Wharf, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to Wharf: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.

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