BHP understands we all have a role to play in understanding and managing social impacts and building resilience through all phases of an operated asset’s life cycle.
Our 2030 social value goal under the Thriving, empowered communities pillar is to partner with communities and stakeholders to co-create and implement plans that deliver jointly defined economic, social and environmental outcomes. To read more about our 2030 social value goals refer to the BHP Annual Report 2023, Operating and Financial Review 6.5 - 2030 goals and on the Social value webpage.
Our approach and position
We recognise the importance of treating our communities with respect and we aim to build trust through open and honest relationships. This helps us achieve a clear understanding of the context and impacts of our activities and informs how we can make a meaningful and responsible contribution to economic and social development. Our Code of Conduct and BHP’s Our Requirements standards, including Our Requirements for Community, govern our purpose to bring people and resources together to build a better world. We strive to make a positive contribution to communities where we operate and recognise our responsibility to avoid adverse impacts on the health, safety and wellbeing of our local communities, or to minimise or mitigate such adverse impacts where these cannot be avoided.
Our approach has been developed based on standards from the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the United Nations (UN) Global Compact and frameworks such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards.
We define communities as persons or groups of people living and/or working in any areas that are economically, socially or environmentally impacted (positively and negatively, directly and indirectly) by our activities. This includes individuals and communities not living directly in a project area but who rely on the area for a particular reason (such as for sustenance or income) or who have a significant connection to the area (such as for cultural, religious, spiritual, historical or family reasons). We recognise our exploration, projects, operated assets, activities, closed and legacy assets (legacy assets refers to those BHP-operated assets, or part thereof, that are in the closure phase) can affect communities, but also create opportunities for BHP to contribute to social value.
The Our Requirements for Community standard requires all our operated assets to implement actions to better understand communities, effectively plan and implement our commitments and evaluate and measure our performance (refer to the diagram above). This standard outlines the mandatory minimum performance requirements for regularly reviewing risks and any actual impacts on potentially affected communities; conducting community and human rights due diligence, including baseline research and impact assessments; undertaking due diligence around engagement activities; and establishing complaints and grievance mechanisms. This work is overseen by the Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer. The day-to-day implementation of the requirements is managed by Corporate Affairs team members across BHP. The Our Requirements for Community standard applies to all employees and contractors.
Contributing to an equitable change and transition
We recognise changes in our business, ranging from the opening to the closing of a mine, can have significant and sometimes disproportionate effects on communities where we operate. We also recognise these same communities are navigating broader shifts in the global economy, such as the energy transition and digital disruption, and the scope and nature of these transitions will continue to evolve.
We are committed to working with communities we are a part of in periods of change and transition to achieve long-term mutual value. Our approach will be grounded in our existing strategies, policies and frameworks in relation to our people, the environment, communities and other stakeholders and partners. The interconnection of these policies and frameworks1 aims to ensure change and transitions are equitable and deliberately considered across the life cycle of our business and for the communities where we operate. Our approach to equitable change and transitions will:
- Recognise our responsibility to our workforce: Where a major change in our business is expected to affect our workforce, we will engage in meaningful dialogue and support those impacted.
- Create opportunity for meaningful engagement and co-designed processes: We will seek to develop relationships with stakeholders and partners, including government, local businesses, community members, suppliers, Indigenous peoples and workers, that support understanding of the issues and co-creation of solutions. We will communicate transparently on the types of changes the business needs to make and enable active participation of those most impacted.
- Recognise the impacts associated with gender, land connectedness and social and economic vulnerability: We will not assume all people are affected similarly. We will seek to understand how impacts may be differently experienced, including for Indigenous peoples, and recognise plans and solutions must take into account the particular strengths of each community and tackle the unique impacts they experience.
- Recognise the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development are inter-related: We will aim to avoid or mitigate adverse environmental impacts of change and transitions, while pursuing opportunities to build climate resilience and environmentally sustainable communities.
Given change and transitions will involve multiple actors, we will seek to be a catalyst to bring people together and use our relationships to advocate for equitable change and transitions in line with the above principles.
1 These include our Indigenous Peoples Policy Statement, Social Value Framework, Inclusion and Diversity Statement, Climate Change strategy, approach to the environment, Closure strategy, Human Rights Policy Statement, and approach to community engagement.
Governance and oversight
For information on the role of the BHP Board in overseeing our approach to and delivery on sustainability refer to the Sustainability approach webpage.
We regularly review our approach to working with communities and our understanding and management of the risks and impacts on communities where we operate. Updates on emerging social and community issues and trends are provided to the Sustainability Committee. Our Risk team reports biannually to a joint meeting of the Board’s Risk and Audit Committee and Sustainability Committee on the Group’s material risk profile, including health, safety, environment, climate and community risks.
Through regular engagement and social research, we seek to understand the expectations, concerns, aspirations and interests of the communities potentially affected by our operated assets and identify their areas of priority. We recognise the significance of two-way dialogue in highlighting concerns and perspectives. A core element of our approach is considering various stakeholder and partner perspectives.
By assessing the social, economic, political, security and environmental factors affecting communities, we aim to identify and monitor emerging social trends, better manage potential social impacts and risks (including reputational risks) associated with our operations and contribute to social value. We work with communities to identify social needs and how we can better use existing resources. We then partner with appropriate organisations to deliver community projects and monitor progress and performance consistently.
We engage regularly with investors, civil society, communities, Indigenous stakeholders, human rights experts and industry associations to enhance our understanding of current social expectations, trends and perceptions relating to human rights and the real or perceived impacts of our activities on communities where we operate. We also engage with other industry participants to understand our collective impact and how to more effectively address it together.
Responding to stakeholder concerns and access to remedy
BHP recognises the nature of our business activities can create concerns amongst communities. All our operated assets are required to have a complaints and grievance mechanism that meets criteria in line with the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (Article 31, Effectiveness Criteria for Non-Judicial Grievance Mechanisms).This is aimed at ensuring all mechanisms:
- are scaled to the country context, risks and potential adverse impacts address concerns promptly
- use an understandable and transparent process that is culturally appropriate and readily accessible to all segments of the affected communities
- undertake appropriate remedial actions where a complaint is legitimate
- are available without retribution
- do not impede access to judicial or administrative remedies
EthicsPoint is our confidential, multilingual reporting tool that is accessible to all, including external stakeholders and the public, to report conduct that may be unethical, illegal or inconsistent with Our Code of Conduct.
Complaints, grievances and community or human rights impact events are recorded in BHP’s event management system. The system includes categories for community complaints and grievances relating to amenity, behaviour, human rights and Indigenous peoples’ rights. In FY2022, we also made architecture changes within the event management system to allow more accurate reporting of cultural heritage matters.
Such enhancements allow us to improve our investigation, management and analysis of issues and potential adverse impacts on communities. Any entries relating to Our Code of Conduct breaches are required to be referred for manual review by our Ethics and Investigations team.
Land tenure and use
BHP seeks to identify customary owners, occupiers and users of land where we intend to operate. Knowing how the land is used and who is connected to the land means people potentially affected can be made aware of our activities and have an opportunity to express their concerns and aspirations.
The Board’s Risk and Audit Committee monitors and, at least annually, reviews the effectiveness of the Group’s systems of risk management and internal control.
To understand and manage the risks BHP may be exposed to, we use our Group Risk Architecture, which is a tool to identify, analyse, monitor and report risk. Community and human rights risks, which includes Indigenous rights, are represented in the Group Risk Architecture, supporting the identification of new exposures and the assessment of community and human rights impacts on existing exposures. We assess risks, then apply appropriate controls at an operational, functional or Group level and review performance to enable risks to be appropriately managed. For more information refer to the BHP Annual Report 2023, Operating and Financial Review 8 - How we manage risk.