Breaking the bias at BHP

“We should always have front of mind, what it’s like to be a woman living her life, when we are thinking about the change we want to create, how we are going to do it and why it’s so important to the country. We need to take those experiences into our policy making and into our advocacy”.

That was the call to arms of Chief Executive Women President, Sam Mostyn in her opening of the inaugural CEW Leaders Summit. 

It was a day of discussions about what we can do to breakthrough and accelerate progress to improve gender equity, workforce participation and the economic security and personal safety of all women. 

BHP’s Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer and CEW member, Caroline Cox was at the Summit along with our Chief People Officer, Jad Vodopija. 

“It was a privilege to be among so many leaders who are determined to make change. There was a real sense of community and positive energy,” Caroline said. “We’ve come a long way over the years but we are all in agreement that there is a need for more deliberate action.”

In 2016, BHP announced its aspirational goal to achieve gender balance by 2025. At the time female representation across the industry sat at around 16 per cent, with BHP not much better at 17.6 per cent. 

Today women represent over 32 per cent of the workforce, the ELT is gender balanced and 38 per cent of leaders that report directly to the ELT, are women.

“We are proud of our progress over the last five years, but we still have a way to go,” Caroline said.  

“To achieve true gender balance, we need women represented at every level of the company and we need to address intersectionality - ensuring Indigenous women, women with a disability, LGBT+ women and women of colour have access to the same opportunities.

“At BHP our focus is on addressing the barriers and impacts of bias and prejudice by listening to the lived experience of our people combined with insights from our engagement surveys and our new self-identification survey.

“We are using these insights to rethink how and where work is done, the way we support people to reach their full potential through access to opportunity, growth and flexibility, and ensuring our workplaces are safe, inclusive and respectful. 

“The future is clear about the company we want to be and we won’t stop until we are a safe and inclusive workplace, where everyone can be at their best – every day,” said Caroline. 

BHP is one of the Gold Sponsors for the inaugural CEW summit, along with PwC and Melbourne Business School. CEW is a member-based organisation whose goal is to facilitate greater representation of women at senior levels of Australian business, government, and the not-for-profit sectors.