Sustainable development ensures that we meet our present needs without compromising our ability to meet future needs. Considerations of sustainability become increasingly important as global climate change poses new challenges for the future of humanity and social issues become more relevant to the growing world population. As a significant regional player in the agricultural sector, Crookes Brothers focuses on optimising the social and environmental impact of its operations, without compromising economic viability. It is the group’s goal to position itself as employer and partner of choice for employees, communities, business initiatives and governments.
As a major employer and often community business partner in the various regions in which we operate, Crookes Brothers plays an increasingly significant economic role in rural communities in South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Mozambique. We proactively support the socioeconomic transformation of the communities in which we operate.
The group provides permanent employment for 968 people and contracts a further 1 386 seasonal staff. Rural communities in close proximity to our farming operations are the main beneficiaries of the wages and benefits earned.
We have a preferential procurement policy that supports the participation of historically disadvantaged communities in economically beneficial activities. Local suppliers of goods and services are used whenever feasible and a growing proportion of our procurement spend is received by small and emerging businesses.
Employer of Choice
The group endeavours to offer equal opportunities to all and avoid discrimination based on race and gender, not only by adhering to the standards set out in codes of practice, but also by establishing a culture of fairness, transparency and reward for effort. We are committed to maintain a supportive management culture and to encourage open communication in all our operations.
We have several ongoing initiatives to establish our position as employer of choice in the agricultural industry. In addition to competitive salaries and performance-based incentives for staff, these initiatives include an employee wellness programme, continuous upgrading of company housing and employee facilities, various corporate social investment initiatives and the provision of bursary and training schemes.
The group recognises that the expertise of its staff is central to the achievement of its regional growth strategy. Crookes Brothers is committed to ensuring that all employees are given the opportunity to develop to their full potential to meet their own aspirations and enhance the group’s value. To this end, Crookes Brothers has implemented a talent management system that aims to ensure that we attract and retain the best talent and skills available, that mission-critical positions and roles are staffed with key people and that a pipeline of talent and skills is provided for the future.
The maintenance and development of an adequate skills base is identified as a critical component in ensuring the sustainability of the agricultural industry. The group’s core strategic goal of continued expansion outside South Africa and across a range of crops requires an ongoing commitment to skills development. Our processes integrate selection and recruitment, training, coaching and mentoring, promotion and succession planning to meet our goals.
The group’s wellness programme is based on a holistic approach to employee wellbeing, as outlined in company policies and procedures. Wellness interventions are extended beyond staff and employees to reach their families and communities as well. The focus areas of the programme are primary health care, health education, HIV/AIDS and malaria.
HIV and AIDS
We have collaborated with local public healthcare facilities to improve the delivery of services to assist our employees and their communities. We also provide access to the services of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) on all our farms. Private service providers are contracted to support wellness programmes on our estates in Komatipoort, Malelane and the Western Cape, including peer education, condom distribution, workplace policy education, community outreach, and HIV counselling and testing.
CBL recognises that malaria is a major health risk, particularly in Mozambique, and has recently implemented a holistic malaria management programme. No malaria-related fatalities were recorded for the 2015/2016 period. However there were 30 cases reported for the year. We expect a decrease going forward in the number of reported cases based on the following interventions:
- Mosquito control measures
- Use of a malaria consultant to conduct assessments and provide training
- Use of mosquito nets
- Medical check-ups, provision of test kits, mosquito repellents and preventative medication.
Crookes Brothers recognises its moral and legal responsibility to protect the health and safety of its employees or any persons affected by the operations of the group. As a core priority, our goal is to create a health and safety culture throughout the company which is integrated into every task. The behaviour of individuals at all levels of the organisation is influenced by the health and safety culture, and their behaviours in turn shape the culture.
The unrest experienced in previous years in the agricultural sector emphasises the importance of maintaining sound and functional relationships with employees and their representative structures. Our operations were largely unaffected by disruptions during the past year, except for a four-day strike in the Western Cape which was effectively and amicably settled. We are committed to continuous interaction and communication at all levels with our employees and their representatives. Unions are recognised across the group in South Africa, Zambia, Swaziland and Mozambique. The Mthayiza joint venture and Renishaw estate are not unionised and here issues are dealt with through Employee Representative Forums.
The disciplinary code and procedure ensures that an acceptable and consistent standard of behaviour is maintained in a fair, equitable and just manner, in line with the legislation of the countries in which we operate.
The group is committed to supporting freedom of association and collective bargaining, as well as preventing child and forced labour at all its operations. Every employee is expected to commit to a code of business conduct which incorporates human rights principles.