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Integrated Remote Operations Centre Coal

BHP’s Integrated Remote Operations Centre (IROC) in Brisbane demonstrates the early results of the Company’s efforts towards their aspirational goal to achieve gender balance by 2025.

The Centre’s new future-oriented appointment approach included identifying the intrinsic attributes required in employees, rather than focusing on years of experience and qualifications (e.g. ability to follow a process with logical constructs).

For example, the IROC leaders developed a strategy to recruit from non-traditional talent pools by matching required attributes to different target industries outside mining (i.e. Air Traffic Controllers, 000 Dispatchers, and Medical Scientists). Management used YouTube videos and alternative forums to reach target talent pools and promote their collaborative team structure and culture.

Mike Henry, BHP President Operations Minerals Australia said there is a clear link between diversity and performance outcomes.

“We have analysed our own data and we know that more inclusive and diverse groups have higher performance both on safety and operational performance,” said Mike.

“This has helped to reinforce the connection between diversity and performance for our line managers.” 

Other key elements of the effort were utilising a standard assessment centre approach (applicants were all asked the same six questions followed by a group activity), and ensuring there was at least one female with an operational background on each panel of three. It further developed diversity by focusing on the mix of attributes in teams, and how teams complement each other, rather than selecting individuals who “tick all the boxes”.

In parallel, BHP offered flexible working arrangements that were assessed on an individual basis separate from the appointment process. It also took a new and innovative approach to onboarding operators from outside the industry. 

As a result of this multi-pronged approach, IROC has achieved an enviable gender balance. Among the 177 controllers, 53 per cent are female and 47 per cent are male, and while 40 per cent came from other parts of the business, this was supplemented with externals of which 28 per cent had a mining background and 32 per cent were new to mining.

Management have deliberately created a collaborative and constructive culture in which employees are empowered to raise and own solutions to identified issues.

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