Our approach

Our staff are a diverse group of 465, covering the entire range of roles in our value chain, from Production to Legal, Marketing and Field Sales. Approximately 100 of these are covered by a collective employment agreement, represented by E Tū. In 2020, we launched a social sustainability committee sponsored by our Human Resources and Corporate Affairs Directors. This committee has already started work to steer the direction of our social sustainability work across flexible working, health and safety, inclusion and diversity, and health and wellbeing.

Our progress

Our people

Like other businesses, the two lockdowns in 2020 helped us learn a lot about integrating technology into our business and new ways of working. While we have had a formal flexible working policy for several years now, we upped the ante after the first lockdown. We have now created a new flexible working policy, where staff in appropriate roles can choose to work from home one day per week, with fewer meetings scheduled on Mondays and Fridays to encourage this.

We introduced a new Supply Chain Technician Programme, designed to attract and develop talent to work in our breweries. Through this, we have recruited eight new graduates who have started in roles that will help them gain technical understanding of beer production, while bolstering our technical expertise and internal talent development. Across the business as a whole, we hired 83 new people throughout the year, and had an overall turnover rate of 12.7%.

We continue to run an annual climate survey in order to capture feedback from our employees on topics including personal development, job satisfaction, management, innovation, reward and recognition, collaboration, and teamwork. In addition, we added a pulse check during the year to ensure that we were performing well throughout the lockdowns and that our people felt safe and equipped to do their jobs despite the ever-changing environment.

Health and safety

COVID-19 was a major challenge for our business, with our priority throughout the year being keeping our people safe. Two taskforces were quickly set up, with a range of people from the business involved to ensure that our response to COVID-19 was agile, thorough, and well communicated.

DB was deemed an essential business during each of the lockdowns, and as a manufacturing business, not all of our staff were able to work from home. Further steps were needed to ensure the business could keep running and meet demand.

We used the shift separation model for our production staff to form discrete bubbles during the lockdowns, minimising the number of close contacts our production staff would have. All vulnerable staff were enabled to work from home or take leave, to minimise their exposure. We redeployed office staff into production areas to fill gaps and continued to support staff with full pay throughout. Whilst a challenging time for all, our systems proved robust, standing up to the testing circumstances. We have taken many learnings forward from 2020 that will help inform our processes and should ensure that we are well equipped for any future lockdowns or periods of working through heightened Alert Levels.

Despite the extensive challenges everyone faced in 2020, we did not lose sight of our workplace safety journey, and we made many improvements over the course of the year. We maintained our focus on forklift driver safety, choosing new forklifts that have world class safety features such as data analysis on kinematics. We reviewed our targets and set our new health and safety strategy for 2021-2023. We have a renewed focus on learning from and reducing the number of high potential near misses.

We continue to champion our ‘safety always’ mindset, embedding a passion for health and safety into everything we do. We believe that everyone is a safety leader, and we are investing in people to ensure they feel empowered and enabled when it comes to health and safety.

A great example of progress during 2020 was at our DB Draught brewery, where we were using 25kg bags of malt. These bags were manually lifted as part of the brewing process, and given the scale of our operation, up to 1,000 bags were required some months. In tandem with our supplier, we were able to transition to use bulk bags that can be lifted by forklift, eliminating the need for manual handling.

Key measures 2021 target 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Accidents 0 1 3 1 4 3 10
Accident frequency rate (accidents per 100 FTE)* 0 0.15 0.34 0.19 0.79 0.58 1.75
Warnings, fines or penalties for non-compliance 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

*Includes Joylab


As with many other businesses, a major focus of 2020 was mental health and wellbeing. We worked hard to ensure all staff had the support they required and felt psychologically safe, to minimise burnout and anxiety during this uncertain period. As a foundation partner of Mentemia, Sir John Kirwan’s mental health organisation, we assisted with the launch of the app earlier than planned, during the first lockdown. We also helped to test and refine the further tools rolled out within the app such as Digital JK – the Sleep Coach.

Over the lockdown, we hosted weekly company-wide “Coutts Club” catchups, helping our staff to stay connected and wind down from the week. Sir John joined us as a special guest for two of the sessions, alongside Dr Fiona Crichton, a health psychology expert from Mentemia, who talked about dealing with uncertainty and managing stress levels.

From an organisational level, we have taken a more holistic approach towards wellbeing, understanding the real needs of our employees, and hitting key priorities. We have taken the approach that less is more, to get the best from our efforts in this space. In April, we launched “Wellbeing Champions” which consisted of people across the business reminding their teams to take regular actions to ensure mental fitness and avoid physical, mental, and emotional fatigue.

We also created an ecosystem of support networks, getting leaders in the business to contact people from outside their own teams for an informal chat and check-in. Upon returning to the office, we created an app called ‘Coffee Connect’ to enable people to connect with others across the business for a quick chat over a coffee, enhancing cross-functional connections.

Inclusion and diversity

In February 2020 we ran an I&D survey for the first time through our partner Diversity Works. The survey provided data around understanding DB’s inclusion and diversity guidelines, as well as the demographics of our staff. Despite only around half of the business responding to the survey, we obtained sound insights from the analysis that we have since used to frame further I&D initiatives. We reviewed the HEINEKEN Global I&D strategy, using relevant parts to inform our own five-year roadmap.

During the year we ran a webinar for staff, hosted by the head of Inclusion and Diversity for HEINEKEN. This session taught our staff how to practice inclusive behaviours and how they could tackle unconscious bias – one of a series of online webinars DB hosted through 2020 after adapting to more virtual ways of working.

We have assessed our gender pay gap according to the New Zealand Government’s method and since 2018 we have maintained a 0% gap. By being part of the HEINEKEN company we go above and beyond the NZ Government methodology and look more closely at the weighted average for job grades which is a more accurate way of reporting. Based on HEINEKEN’s method we have on average about a 2% gender pay gap which we have a clear action plan in place to close.

Respecting human rights

We have three key priorities for human rights:

  • Working conditions in the New Zealand liquor industry
  • Potential harassment and bullying
  • Mental health and wellbeing including work/life balance and stress levels

In 2020, we relaunched our confidential reporting tool SpeakUp, through which staff can anonymously report bullying, harassment, and other unsociable behaviours. We underwent reviews of several of our largest external suppliers to ensure good adherence to our HEINEKEN Supplier Code of Conduct around human rights. We also engaged a consultant to ensure we were performing as expected post-COVID-19. We once again celebrated Pink Shirt Day, and hosted Mary Haddock-Staniland from Diversity Works, an amazing advocate for anti-bullying, to talk about how we could be good allies to each other despite our differences.