Skip to content

In this section we'll cover:

Our approach

We endeavour to treat all stakeholders with respect and establish open, honest relationships with them built on trust. This helps us achieve a clear understanding of the context and impacts of our activities and informs how we can make a meaningful contribution to economic and social development. Our Code of Conduct and the Our Requirements for Community standard govern our actions and aspiration to make a positive contribution to communities where we have a presence and minimise adverse impacts where these cannot be avoided.

We understand that we all have a role to play in understanding and managing social and human rights impacts, and building resilience, through all phases of a resource life cycle. Our approach has been developed based on standards from the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA) 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 groups which are directly affected or impacted by BHP’s 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 (for cultural, religious, spiritual, historical or family reasons). We recognise that our exploration, projects, operated assets, activities, closed and legacy assets (legacy assets refers to those BHP-operated assets, or part thereof, located in the Americas that are in the closure phase) can affect communities and 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 ensure we understand communities, effectively plan and implement our commitments and evaluate and measure our performance (refer to the diagram below). This standard outlines the minimum mandatory requirements for social research and studies, including social impact and opportunity assessments; human rights impact assessments; community perception surveys; engagement activities; and complaints and grievance mechanisms. This work is overseen by the Chief External Affairs Officer and the day-to-day implementation of the requirements is managed by Corporate Affairs personnel across BHP.

our collaborative community approach infographic 

Through regular engagement and data collected from community perception surveys and other social research, we seek to understand the expectations, concerns and interests of the communities affected by our operations and identify their areas of priority. We recognise the significance of two-way dialogue in highlighting concerns and perspectives, and considering stakeholder perspectives is a core element of our approach.

By assessing the social, economic, political, security and environmental factors affecting communities, we aim to identify and monitor emerging social trends, better manage 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 existing resources using a collaborative approach. 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 understand current social expectations, trends and perceptions relating to stakeholders, human rights and the real and perceived impacts of our activities on communities. We also engage with other industry participants to understand our collective impact and the best approach to more effectively address that impact.

We recognise our responsibility to contribute to and avoid adverse impacts on the health, safety and wellbeing of communities and we have a five-year (FY2018-FY2022) public target of zero significant community events(1).

BHP’s Board oversees our approach to sustainability. The Board’s Sustainability Committee has oversight of health, safety, environmental, community (HSEC) and other human rights matters and assists the Board with governance and monitoring. The Sustainability Committee also oversees the adequacy of the systems to identify and manage HSEC-related risks and overall HSEC and human rights performance.  

We regularly review our approach to working with communities, and our understanding and management of the risks and impacts on communities. The Sustainability Committee receives an annual update on emerging social and community issues and trends, and any changes to our community approach. The Risk function reports biannually to a joint meeting of the Board’s Risk and Audit Committee and Sustainability Committee on the Group’s risk profile, including HSEC risks.

We identify, assess and manage risks that BHP is exposed to, including community and human rights risks, by applying our single framework (known as the Risk Framework). 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.

In order to understand and manage the risks to which BHP is exposed, we have a Group Risk Architecture, which is a tool to identify, analyse, monitor and report risk. Community and human rights, which includes Indigenous rights, are Group Risks within the Environment, climate change and community Group Risk category of our Group Risk Architecture. This tool helps us to identify current risks (which may be strategic or operational in nature), as well as emerging risks, that are associated with these Group Risks. We assess risks, apply appropriate controls at a site, functional or Group level and review performance to enable risks to be properly managed. More information on BHP’s Risk Framework is available here.

Our internal audit processes check compliance with the Our Requirements standards.


(1) A significant event resulting from BHP operated activities is one with an actual severity rating of four and above, based on our internal severity rating scale (tiered from one to five by increasing severity) as defined in our mandatory minimum performance requirements for risk.

Responding to stakeholder concerns and access to remedy

We recognise the nature of our business activities can create concerns. All operated assets must have a complaints and grievance mechanism that meets criteria in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (Article 31, Effectiveness Criteria for Non-Judicial Grievance Mechanisms). This is aimed at ensuring that 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 complain it legitimate
  • are available without retribution
  • do not impede access to judicial or administrative remedies

Local mechanisms are intended to sit alongside group-wide processes for addressing grievances arising from unethical conduct in breach of Our Code of Conduct, such as the EthicsPoint process. For more information visit Our Code of Conduct section .

Complaints and grievances and community or human rights events are recorded in the BHP Event Management System. The system includes categories for community complaints and grievances relating to amenity, behaviour, human rights and Indigenous rights. This allows us to improve our investigation, management and analysis of issues and impacts on communities.

Community concerns raised in FY2020

In FY2020, the primary areas of focus for communities where we have a presence centred around local employment and procurement opportunities, social investment and economic development, and environmental impacts. In addition, following the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, health and resilience is a growing priority for communities and we are working to support this through our dedicated COVID-19 response funds in Australia, Chile, the United States and Canada. Our Environment team is working with communities, government, business and civil society on projects that aim to improve water governance and address water challenges by focusing on shared spiritual, cultural, recreational, ecological and economic values. For more information on our work in this area, refer to the Water section.

We continue to work collaboratively with local, regional and national stakeholder groups to enable people to express their views and experiences. This shared dialogue helps inform our decision-making on issues that are important to the communities in which our people live and in which we have a presence, develop appropriate responses to seek to resolve concerns and identify new opportunities that can support local aspirations.

An overview of community concerns relating to BHP’s operated assets raised in FY2020 is provided below.

Sustainability Concerns by Region chart

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 are aware of our activities and have an opportunity to express their concerns and aspirations.

scroll up to top of page scroll down to bottom of page
Loading the player...