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Geof Stapledon Speaks at the Government Equalities Office Event Hosted by Deloitte UK

Geof Stapledon, Vice President Governance, BHP Billiton
Government Equalities Office event hosted by Deloitte UK
London, 8 February 2016

Thank you for inviting me to participate in this event, which deals with an issue that we at BHP Billiton consider to be fundamentally important.

We believe a diverse workforce and an inclusive work environment – where the unique skills, experiences and perspectives of our people are embraced – is pivotal to sustaining performance and further increasing productivity.

We celebrate diversity in a broad sense, including differences in thought, perspectives, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability and experience. Across the Company, our workforce comprises 115 nationalities and 23 ethnicities.

Our aspiration is to have a diverse workforce at all levels of our organisation that best represents the communities in which our assets are located and where our employees live.

The gender composition of our workforce is 17 per cent female and 83 per cent male. While we are performing better than the industry standard and have some encouraging results in our graduate intake, this result is not good enough. Importantly, it is not good enough in a business sense: We know that sites that are more inclusive perform better – in production and in safety.

We are doing something about the gender imbalance, to mention a few examples:

  • Business scorecards – which impact people’s pay – now include specific measures to increase inclusion and engagement.
  • Three months ago, our Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie launched our Company’s Inclusion and Diversity Council – which he chairs.  The Council includes senior executives, managers and employees of different ages, levels of work experience, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. The Council’s role is to shape our long-term Inclusion and Diversity Strategy and determine specific actions to accelerate our progress, with an initial focus on achieving gender equality. This is not about filling a quota, but about making significant inroads to ensure we attract, develop and retain the most talented women to our business and achieve a greater gender balance.
  • BHP Billiton’s senior leadership team has undertaken unconscious bias training, and these learning tools are being rolled out to employees across the company.

We are also taking a long-term view. In April last year, we partnered with the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute to increase the representation of women in the field of mathematics.

Our BHP Billiton Foundation will provide A$22 million of funding over five years for the ‘Choose Maths’ program which aims to influence the perception of maths among girls and young women and address a decline in Australians studying maths and entering STEM related careers.

I know the UK Government is similarly focused on the importance of STEM subjects.

And we are making progress. From our baseline in 2010, female representation increased by (i) 13 per cent in manager and senior leadership roles to 21 per cent and (ii) 2 per cent in our overall workforce representation to 17 per cent. In the 2015 financial year, female representation in our graduate intake increased by 7.6 per cent to 42 per cent.

Gender pay gap reporting

Today’s event is, of course, focused on the gender pay gap – and disclosure in relation to that.
BHP Billiton has been reporting pay gap information for a couple of years. The pay gap across Australian companies overall is 19 per cent – similar to the UK level of 20 per cent.

In our 2015 Sustainability Report, we disclosed BHP Billiton’s pay gap, which is 3 per cent. This figure is based on total remuneration – not just base salary, but also bonuses and other components of total pay.

Our Sustainability Report provides a breakdown by different categories of employment – senior leaders, managers, supervisory and professionals, and operators and general support. It also reports the data by major geographic locations.

So, what is the background to this disclosure? Primarily, it relates to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) disclosure benchmark that our company uses in putting together our Sustainability Report each year. The GRI is a not-for-profit body that has been setting voluntary standards for sustainability reporting for about 16 years.

In addition to the GRI, it is also worth bearing in mind that Australia’s version of the “comply or explain” standards for listed companies – promulgated by the ASX Corporate Governance Council – recommends that a Remuneration Committee role should include “whether there is any gender or other inappropriate bias in remuneration for directors, senior executives or other employees”.

Each year our Remuneration Committee receives a report from our Chief People Officer outlining that year’s review of the remuneration of women and men in our organisation. This ensures the pay gap is constantly kept under review throughout the company.

What we want to avoid is any gender bias resulting in women being paid less than men for like roles.  Going through the process means that if anomalies are identified they can then be corrected. These reviews are conducted at all levels in the organisation and in all locations.

These two measures – the governance role aimed at regularly reviewing pay data to detect any bias, and the public reporting of the pay gap – are complementary and they are measures that BHP Billiton embraces. We therefore welcome the UK Government’s commitment to address the pay gap issue.

If I could conclude on a practical note:  In terms of the details of the regulations being prepared here in the UK, I would reiterate what we said in our submission to last year’s consultation on closing the gender pay gap:

Statistics provided with the best of intentions can always be misleading depending on the definitions, industry, legacy issues, etc. … It will be very helpful if the methodology chosen is simple, fit-for-purpose and consistent, enabling fair comparisons to be made by end-users of the data disclosed. To do otherwise risks confusion and a less than optimal outcome.

The GRI disclosure benchmark that drives our current pay gap reporting is a model that fits those criteria.

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to participate in this evening’s event.

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