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Employee conversations held as part of a sexual harassment and sexual assault awareness training program in Minerals Americas have helped BHP better understand what we can do to prevent and respond to sexual harassment or sexual assault incidents and allegations at our operations.

Safety comes first at BHP, so during the COVID-19 pandemic, some of our operational employees in Minerals Americas have stayed at home. This may be because they were part of a high health risk group, such as older workers or those with a history of respiratory or other relevant illness, or because they were in preventive quarantine. During this time, BHP worked with unions at our Pampa Norte operation in Chile to create a range of training programs for employees to complete while they were off-site.

Employees consulted about the program design asked for sexual harassment and sexual assault education and awareness to be included in the curriculum. BHP and the unions responded with a course that covered BHP’s culture, respectful behaviours, how to identify sexual harassment and sexual assault and what employees can do if they witness or experience it.

Over 8 weeks, 13 sessions were held across Spence and Cerro Colorado (our operated assets comprising Pampa Norte), reaching 293 participants. All maintainers, operators and supervisors completed the course – an audience of 83 per cent male and 17 per cent female.

Employees were encouraged to ask questions throughout the online session to foster greater openness and transparency in our workplace discussions about sexual harassment and sexual assault. Employees also used the ‘private chat’ features of the online communications system to ask questions or make comments anonymously.

This input has helped BHP better understand what we can do to help to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual assault incidents and allegations. This includes training, contractor engagement, improving security and workplace design, improved investigation processes and support through the Employee Assistance Program, our counselling services and manager assistance program.

Reflecting on the program, Acting Asset President for Pampa Norte, in Minerals Americas, Mia Gous said: “No one wants to come to work and be bullied or harassed. We need to work relentlessly to eradicate such behaviour from our organisation – it has no place in our operations or offices at Pampa Norte. We need to build a culture of trust so that anyone experiencing such behaviour can speak up without fear, but more importantly, we need to speak up if we see such behaviour happening to others as well, to be their voice if they cannot speak about it. We changed our world within a few weeks due to COVID-19; we can do the same against harassment. It should not exist.”

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