Integrated Report 2020

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Performance review


As the most critical enabler of our strategy, our people are central to effective organisational transformation, improved performance and accelerated growth. The transformation of how we manage our people, underpinned by our culture journey, will ensure that we grow into 'One Imperial', with the right talent to build it, the right leadership to guide it and the right organisational architecture to support it.

Flattening our structures, empowering employees to make decisions and be responsive, and providing exciting career paths for our people with an attractive employee value proposition are just some of our initiatives to create a culture in which people are inspired to service our clients, principals and customers and create positive change in the economies in which we operate.

In an organisation as large as Imperial, historically comprised of multiple owner-managed businesses, shifting our culture will take time; particularly given the uncertainty created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the fundamental changes being made to our operating model and the critical need to accelerate digitisation and innovation, all of which put additional demands on our people and require vast amounts of energy. However, these shifts are all interconnected and we are clear on how to achieve success, starting with our leadership and transforming our HR capabilities to ensure they are consistent with the 'One Imperial' culture we desire.

With an enabling collaborative culture, 'One Imperial' thinking and a clearly articulated employee value proposition, we aim to strengthen our employer of choice brand in all our markets.

Covid-19 impact on the workforce

Our focus during the crisis is first and foremost to protect our people and operations from infection. As the pandemic evolves, the continued safety and wellbeing of our employees remains a priority. Stringent safety and strict access control procedures remain in place and rigorous hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting procedures have also been implemented - with dedicated resources in place to support and monitor Covid-19-related risks at each operation.

Employee training has been customised to heighten awareness of risks and preventative measures. While many employees continue to work from home, different shift systems have been introduced to allow for increased social distancing and to ensure continuity when a member of a team tests positive for the virus. Across the group, salaries of c.R160 million were paid to operational staff whose services were not required at the operations during periods of lockdown between March 2020 and June 2020.

Remote and flexible working conditions have become the norm and are likely to remain for the foreseeable future. This requires changes to working models and enhanced digital competencies. In addition, the pandemic has caused uncertainty and employees are concerned about job security and their physical and mental wellbeing. New communications and collaboration channels are in place to reassure employees and maintain their trust and motivation. Our people have appreciated the further support measures provided by way of our employee health and wellness initiatives and online training on Covid-19 to help them transition to new ways of working. We continue to leverage social media and other channels to engage with employees and to urge their continued adherence to health protocols.

Key performance indicators


25 232 employees*

working in 26 countries

(F2019: 27 463)

Training (group)

R128 million

training spend

(F2019: R192 million)

Training hours delivered (group)

893 682 hours

(F2019: 628 228)

Employee learnerships
(South Africa)

633 employees

registered for a learnership

(F2019: 627)

Tertiary learning (South Africa)

523 employees

registered for tertiary qualifications

(F2019: 481)

Graduate programme (South Africa)

52 participants

of whom 85% are black students and 71% are women

(F2019: 38 graduates)

Black representation
(South Africa)

At top management

42% against a
2020 target of 63%

with 16% being black women

(F2019: 47% overall and 20% black women)

At senior management

32% against a
2020 target of 33%

with 16% being black women

(F2019: 28% overall and 10% black women)

At middle management

45% against a
2020 target of 45%

with 17% being black women

(F2019: 43% overall and 16% black women)


* At 30 June 2020, excluding CPG and European shipping.
Gender diversity


women representation
at top management

(F2019: 17%)


women representation
at senior management

(F2019: 27%)


women representation overall

(F2019: 24%)



Black appointments (South Africa)


of appointments made in the year went to black candidates. At management level this equated to 58%

(F2019: 89%)


of internal promotions went to black employees



Our people strategy

Our people strategy has been revised to support our operational and strategic transformation and enhance our ability to attract and retain the best talent and skills. Key outcomes will be progress on the 'One Imperial' culture journey, a consistent 'One Imperial' employee experience, the ability to place the right talent in the right places in the right jobs and the development of an organisation development practice. A key aspect of the people strategy is to transform the HR function from a focus on transactional HR services to the delivery of strategic transformational HR services that support business growth. We will measure the success of the people strategy using employee turnover, internal and external employee value proposition measures and employee engagement.

Pillars of our people strategy


and talent

Supporting business performance by providing an integrated framework that aligns business strategy with team and individual goals and performance outcomes.

Leadership and

Supporting employee
productivity by
ensuring employees
have the right skills and
capabilities, leveraging
a pool of future fit talent
to execute on business

Diversity and

Driving a diverse and
inclusive workforce,
particularly in the
talent pipeline, to
unlock the value of
inclusive interactions,
and diversity of world
view and industry


Enabling the business
to operate in a simple
and collaborative
manner, through
including organisation
design, effectiveness
and change

Culture journey

Enabling a ‘One
Imperial’ culture with a
shared purpose and
set of values,
connecting employees
with each other and
the communities in
which we operate, and
which embraces the
richness of our diverse
Enablers of the strategy

Accessible HR information and systems

Line manager capability

Business leader sponsorship

Standardisation of key HR systems and processes


Create a 'One Imperial' culture

Feedback received in the 2020 values survey (20% response rate1) indicates that there is a mismatch between the respondents' personal values, their experience of the current organisational values and their desired values for the business. Our culture was described as 'numbers focused, siloed, short term and transactional'. In addition, our entrepreneurial origins and acquisitions have left us with a legacy of non-standardised HR platforms, processes and practices.

To achieve our desired strategic and operational transformation, we must create a shared system of beliefs and values - a 'One Imperial' culture. The culture journey will be established by our leaders, with a clear purpose statement and shared values, and will be cascaded throughout the organisation to shape employee behaviours and understanding. Our systems, structures and processes are also being restructured to support our desired culture change.

Culture change strategy
Our new values are designed to revitalise our organisation and inspire and unite our people, creating a sense of meaning and belonging. They are the foundation of our culture journey and we intend to live and be measured by them.
We have defined the following leadership behaviours and attributes to drive culture change.


Connects individuals to the
‘One Imperial’ purpose.
  Enables a safe environment
which fosters risk-taking,
vulnerability and innovation.
  Acknowledges efforts,
rewards contributions and has
meaningful conversations.
Authentically cares about
individuals and encourages
others to do the same.
  Fosters an environment that encourages collaboration and inclusivity.   Drives performance through a
growth mindset, clear output
and value creation.
We are developing a leadership development model to align, educate and coach leaders to lead and execute the transformation of our business and culture. The model aims to ensure our leadership team is caring and characterised by strategic business agility and capability, improved engagement capability to lead people through change, and driven to create value for all stakeholders. This will form the foundation of our revised people strategy, permeating the way we recruit, onboard, manage performance, develop talent and reward our people.
Change management
A group-wide change management programme communicates the shared purpose, values and associated behaviours to inspire employees and elicit their buy-in to our strategic transformation and culture change journey. Our change management processes are being executed methodically and sensitively, with oversight and support provided centrally to leaders tasked with driving these processes within their businesses.
Core HR systems and processes
Our revised people strategy focuses on transforming our HR processes to deliver consistent and calibrated approaches to performance and talent management, and the consistent application of equitable compensation and reward practices underpinned by one HR information management system.
Organisation design
The redesign of our organisational structure and operating model to enable ‘One Imperial’ will remove duplication of effort, standardise practices to achieve efficiencies, remove hierarchy, enhance employee experience and provide meaningful career paths.
Performance overview
  • Established a transformation office to coordinate and guide the implementation of strategic initiatives to transform Imperial and lead the change journey.
  • Preparing to launch a single communication and engagement technology platform that will broaden our communication coverage, promoting inclusivity, collaboration and knowledge sharing across geographies. The platform will provide easy and quick access to the group's policies, and information and news on the strategy, culture journey and the group's ESG activities. It will also provide employees with the opportunity to connect with one another to share ideas and best practice. The pilot will start in October 2020.
Looking forward
  • Launch the leadership development model in the first half of F2021. Leadership development will be delivered to all managerial levels.
  • Continue to implement the group-wide communication and change management plans to embed the new organisational values.
  • Reward and recognise employees living the values to reinforce behaviours and sustain the change.
  • Adopt a people-centric approach when considering the use of technology to automate processes and drive efficiencies.

Standardised HR processes and systems

A genuine employee value proposition requires a consistent approach to the employee experience throughout our different businesses and across the employee lifecycle. We are implementing a minimum set of standards for HR processes to support business performance and business productivity.


Manual HR transactions and data management processes result in a heavy administrative burden for the HR function at the cost of transformational work, and skills and leadership development. They also hinder data management processes and perpetuate inconsistent HR practices across the group.

Performance overview
  • Approved a group-wide HR information management system, which will add tangible business value by enabling people data analytics in real time and will provide customised talent offerings, improved talent management and enhanced HR processes, ultimately improving the employee experience. In addition, the system will achieve efficiencies in workforce planning and HR administration, reducing staff costs, and it will improve the governance of our people data.
  • Adopted the Paterson Grading System, which grades jobs based on their level of complexity, decision making and the skills required. The system will correct job grade anomalies across our businesses and drive competitive salaries. The grading system is being rolled out with pay scales benchmarked to local markets.
Looking forward
  • Start the HR system implementation in Logistics Africa and Market Access. Further preparation is needed before implementation can begin in Logistics International. Over the next three years we will also upgrade and consolidate our payroll systems.
  • Uplift our strategic HR capability to build centres of excellence at group level for compensation, talent management, organisation development and leadership development. This will ultimately create the organisational architecture needed to drive an engaged workforce able to deliver optimal performance.
  • Deliver a consistent performance management approach to identify and calibrate high performers across the group. Strategic goals will be cascaded using an aligned goal setting process followed by a consistent methodology for assessing and managing performance across business units, teams and individuals. Performance will be measured on productivity as well as values and culture output.
  • Roll out the job grading methodology across the group by the third quarter of F2021.
  • Establish a job evaluation committee in each division to evaluate new hires for selected job bands.
  • Develop a consistent and calibrated approach to talent management, recruiting for both values and skill, and measure and develop talent in line with the leadership development model.
  • Launch an Imperial global website career portal.

Business restructures

Retrenchments are viewed as a last resort and take place only after other operating costs have been scrutinised and reduced, and consultations have been held with employees and labour organisations to find alternative solutions. We also upskill people, as far as possible, to redeploy them into other positions. However, when downsizing is undertaken due to difficult operating environments, we follow fair procedures in compliance with legislation, collective bargaining agreements and applicable company policies.

Covid-19 has necessitated further restructuring and business unit consolidation in South Africa to reduce costs and complexity, and to right-size the business for a more challenging economic environment that is likely to recover slowly. Regrettably, we have initiated a Section 189 retrenchment process in the Logistics Africa division. We will also exit underperforming businesses and businesses that are not aligned with our growth strategy, impacting the employees working in these operations.

Effective talent management and learning and development

Learning and development are critical drivers of improvement, innovation and growth. In addition, the skills needed by the healthcare businesses are vastly different to the skills required by the automotive business. We must therefore develop the depth of highly specialised logistics, industry and people skills needed to meet our current and future business needs as well as the current and future needs of our clients, principals and customers. Learning and development are also important tools to embed our desired culture.

Talent management is a development area for the group. Our goal is to establish a consistent approach that effectively identifies internal and external talent, provides our employees with growth opportunities and clear career paths and attracts and develops skilled young talent with diverse backgrounds and industry know-how.

The first step towards achieving our goal is a group-wide assessment of the top three management levels, which will inform our succession planning for critical roles. Supported by the new HR information management system, the new Imperial Talent Management Way will provide us with a clearer view of the skills we have in the organisation and where talent can make the greatest impact in the group, which will also provide our employees with mobility opportunities. In addition, we will be able to better understand the aspirations of our people and work with them throughout the job cycle from recruitment to career management and ultimately exit.


Our lack of standardised recruitment, onboarding, performance management and development processes impedes our ability to identify potential talent within the organisation and puts proper succession at risk, particularly for specialist or technical roles that are filled by an ageing workforce.

In addition, we must adjust our working models to attract younger generations who want to identify with the culture of an organisation, value organisations that provide clear career development and paths and are attracted to technologically advanced and innovative organisations.

Performance overview
  • Assessed leaders for their current and future capability potential and their personality preferences in the workplace to ensure the right fit with our strategy and values. The assessments for Logistics Africa and head office are complete and indicate that we must focus on leadership development, accelerate the progress of our top performers (19% of those assessed) into meaningful roles and that there is a critical need to fast track black talent into these top management levels. Assessment feedback will be provided to managers and individual development plans agreed with those identified as high-performance talent.
  • 414 women participated in the Women's Development Programme, which develops self-mastery (2019: 220). 25 participants will start the Executive Development Programme, which develops strategic business agility, in March 2021. The programme was delayed due to Covid-19. A leadership development programme to address skills gaps at senior and middle management levels in the Market Access business is being investigated.
  • Delivered training to Logistics International leaders and managers on leading their teams through Covid-19, including enhancing their ability to recognise mental health issues (supported by health and safety officials and the company doctor). Leaders and managers were also trained on how to prevent the spread of the virus and how to manage suspected cases.
  • 71% of the participants in the 24-month rotational Future Fit Associates Graduate Programme (South Africa) are women.
  • 10 343 employees in South Africa participated in a development programme, ranging from university courses to online programmes, with 2 513 being women.
  • Rolled out free online learning programmes for Market Access and Logistics Africa, including technical and behaviour readiness programmes and courses that build mental strength and resilience during Covid-19 to assist managers and employees to remain connected and productive.
  • R7,3 million invested in the Thabang Fund to date (started in 2017). The fund is used to develop black semi-skilled and unskilled employees in South Africa and their children. 1 450 employees and their children have benefited since 2017.
  • R1,7 million invested in the education of 88 children and legal dependants of our employees based in South Africa. R4,7 million has been set aside for these programmes to 2023.
  • 158 employees, impacted by retrenchment, participated in a reskilling programme to repackage and refresh their skills.
  • Training spend in South Africa decreased by 38% due to Covid-19 restrictions on face-to-face training and budget constraints. However, we still achieved the 1% required by the Skills Development Act.
  • Evaluating a new training service provider for Logistics International to deliver training content and track mandatory training data, which will link to the integrated talent management framework once it is developed, enabling the easier identification of multiple potential successors.
  • Recognised as the top transport and logistics company for students to work for in the recent South African Graduate Employers Association study.
Looking forward
  • Finalise the management assessments for the Market Access and Logistics International divisions.
  • Ensure clear succession plans are in place for the first two senior management levels and all business critical positions across the group.
  • Categorise talent pools into talent segments and identify and develop retention interventions per talent segment. This work will begin with Logistics Africa and Head Office.
  • Develop a people balance sheet measuring the value of our people and our plans for strengthening our capability.
  • Increase our investment in developing new talent to gain depth and diversity in our talent pipeline.
  • Provide holistic experiential future fit skills training to support the shift to digitisation.
  • Training budgets may continue to be impacted in the short term due to macroeconomic pressures.

Diversity and inclusion

The 'One Imperial' culture and our new values are the foundation for establishing a diverse and inclusive workplace that respects differences and unlocks the value to be gleaned from inclusive interactions, and diversity of world view and industry experience. Urgent attention is being given to this priority, with particular focus placed on transforming our talent pipeline.

In South Africa, the incentives for executives and managing directors are linked to transformation progress. These key performance measures remain despite the tougher economic environment, as we expect our leaders to develop new approaches to meet our targets despite environmental factors.

Accelerated talent development, strategic sourcing and targeted attraction and retention initiatives are used to create a black talent pool for our businesses in South Africa, particularly in key specialist and business critical roles, while at the same time ensuring that deep industry and institutional knowledge is not lost. A job-shadowing initiative for potential black successors to leaders who are close to retirement has been implemented in some business areas to transfer skills and institutional knowledge and nurture candidates into these leadership roles.

Equally important, is our commitment to gender diversity and transforming Imperial to accommodate women. Our graduate programme in South Africa serves as a pipeline of female successors. Pleasingly, female talent entering the South African operation is increasing and good progress was made during the year to recruit and promote women.


Changing our work environment to one that is inclusive, empowering and based on trust and mutual respect. An added challenge in South Africa is our ability to meet employment equity targets given a smaller workforce and low employee turnover at top and senior management levels, exacerbated by the need to right-size some operations and the moratorium placed on recruitment during Covid-19.

Performance overview
  • Made a number of key black and female management appointments at both group executive management and South African executive and senior management levels. While black representation at top management level declined 5%, it improved at senior and middle management levels by 4% and 2% respectively.
  • Regrettably, business restructures have meant that our employment equity targets for top management were missed and the senior management level target was marginally missed by 1%. Our targets for middle and junior management were met. The group employment equity plan is under review and the changes are being communicated to the consultative forums and employees. The new plan will be finalised at the end of August 2020.
  • 16% of senior managers in South Africa are black women, exceeding our F2020 target of 13%.
  • 85% of training spend in South Africa was used to develop black employees (2019: 92%).
  • Contributed to a learnership for differently abled people. The programme is equipping 297 learners with skills in the fields of business administration, wholesale, retail, freight management and coding. In December 2019, 192 graduates celebrated the successful culmination of their hard work.
  • Conducting a diversity, inclusion and equality survey in Kenya. Once complete, remedial actions will be implemented to address identified gaps or concerns.
  • Launched a gender diversity campaign in South Africa to coincide with Women's Month to promote Imperial as an employer of choice. The campaign showcases Imperial's female leaders, sharing their stories, successes, challenges and motivational advice.
Employment equity


Occupational levels Black   White     Black   White             2020
Top management 5   11     3   0     0   19   42   63  
Senior management 13   42     12   9     1   77   32   33  
Middle management 272   325     163   194     10   964   45   45  
Junior management 1 016   257     529   196     19   2 017   77   77  
Semi-skilled 6 247   116     1 205   195     63   7 826   95   95  
Unskilled 1 936   10     645   1     33   2 625   98   98  
Non-permanent 33   4     17   1     0   55   91  
Total employees 9 522   765     2 574   596     126   13 583   89  
Differently abled people 54   12     42   1     10   119   81   45  

Note: the Imperial scorecard covers all South African operations, including employees in South Africa who work for the Market Access business.

Looking forward
  • Develop a group-wide diversity plan that will encourage employees to discuss and share cultural values and practices.
  • Continue to ensure that black employees are adequately represented in all occupational levels in South Africa, but particularly at management levels.
  • Prioritise gender balance in the talent pipeline for future leadership positions that become available.
  • Maintain 70% black representation and 50% women representation on the annual graduate programme intake (South Africa).
  • Conduct diversity, inclusion and equality surveys beyond Kenya and increase diversity awareness in the Market Access business.
Read more about our people in the ESG report.