Every day, BHP works hard to deliver the resources that are the building blocks of an ever-changing world. While what we achieve is important, so is how we achieve it.
We know consistent ethical behaviour cultivates a culture of inclusion, care and trust, which ultimately results in improved performance by BHP. It also strengthens our relationships with the communities where we work and helps protect the social value we deliver.
How we work is guided by the core values Our Charter. They are: Sustainability, Integrity, Respect, Performance, Simplicity and Accountability. Our Code of Conduct (Our Code) brings our core values to life, reminds us why they are important and helps us understand what it means to work with those values as our guiding principle.
Acting in accordance with Our Code is a requirement for all BHP employees. Our Code is accessible to all our people and external stakeholders. We deliver annual training to help our workforce understand Our Code and the standards of behaviour that are acceptable at BHP.
Our commitment to transparency
We live in a world where public trust in institutions is declining. The absence of trust undermines social cohesion and creates social and economic instability. It is incumbent on socially responsible corporations to contribute to rebuilding trust. A key means of doing this is through transparency and disclosure, including making it clear how an organisation contributes to society, enabling people to have access to accurate information to inform their own views on issues.
Transparency principles of responsibility, openness, fairness and accountability underpinned our decision to become one of the first in our sector to disclose payments to governments on a project-by-project basis in 2015. We continue to disclose our profit, number of employees and adjusted effective tax rates on a country-by-country basis.
Economic transparency is not our only focus. We have a strong record of supporting robust public reporting on climate change issues. We were one of the first companies to report in accordance with the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures in our Annual Report.
In FY2018, we released our inaugural report on our water exposure and usage. Water stewardship is not only critical to our operated assets but is central to the resilience of the communities where we operate and the environment. Greater transparency around water requirements and usage will help governments, industry and communities work together to safeguard our water supplies for future generations.
Encouraging a broader dialogue
We believe sustainable, positive change in society is increasingly dependent on having effective platforms for conversation across non-government organisations (NGOs) and other forms of civil society, governments and corporations to find solutions to common challenges.
We work in partnership with Transparency International to contribute to the global transparency and anti-corruption agenda. BHP was a founding signatory in FY2018 to the Responsible Tax Principles of the B Team, a not-for-profit initiative formed by a global group of business leaders to catalyse a better way of doing business.
We are represented on the Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). EITI requires its 51 implementing countries to take steps towards towards the establishment of beneficial ownership registers. We also support and participate in OpenOwnership, the first public global database of Group ownership information, and look for opportunities to encourage our suppliers and partners to do the same. Disclosure of beneficial ownership seeks to reduce opportunities for corruption (via secret ownership interests) and helps ensure that assets and income are fully disclosed to relevant regulatory bodies, such as revenue authorities, to promote compliance with taxation laws.
The BHP Foundation, a charitable foundation established and funded by BHP, complements our support of global transparency initiatives. The Foundation’s Natural Resource Governance Global Signature Program aims to improve governance across the resources value chain, from consultation and consent processes before licences and contracts are awarded, to citizen services and infrastructure funded by the payment of taxes and royalties. The Foundation’s projects help to improve the visibility of funds associated with natural resources in the respective country.
BHP’s approach to transparency and tax is detailed in our Economic Contribution Report 2021.
Safe to speak up
It is important that employees and those who work with us or who are associated with us feel safe and empowered to speak up. We encourage anyone to report conduct they reasonably believe may be illegal, unethical or inconsistent with Our Code, and to do so without fear of retaliation. We have zero tolerance for any form of retaliation.
Employees and contractors can raise their concerns through a number of channels, including through line leaders. Anyone, including external stakeholders and the public, can lodge a concern, in the form of a report, either online in EthicsPoint, or via the 24-hour, multilingual call service. Reporters of misconduct reports can choose to raise their concern anonymously.
Reports received are assigned by the BHP Ethics team to an investigator, line leader or team for investigation or resolution as appropriate, in accordance with our internal policy and process documents. The reporting and investigation processes are transparent and accessible to all BHP employees via BHP’s intranet.
We have a number of key policy and process documents that support a safe to speak up culture, including our updated BHP Whistleblower Policy.
Training in our code
We have standards around ethical conduct, including a focus on harassment and bullying, sexual harassment, bribery and corruption, competition, data privacy, conflicts of interest, fraud and theft, and working with governments and communities. Our Code provides guidance on how we should conduct our business, no matter where we work or where we are from. We seek to reinforce these standards with ongoing training, investigations into alleged unethical behaviours and where necessary, apply disciplinary actions.
In FY2021, over 42,000 people completed Our Code training.
Activities during FY2021 to raise awareness of Our Code have included:
- a strong focus on Our Code awareness from the CEO, Asset Presidents and General Managers of our operated assets who frequently raise the importance of culture within BHP in their monthly messages
- continuation of our Respectful Behaviours campaign, which commenced in FY2019, designed to stimulate conversations about what constitutes respectful behaviours, why they exist and how to stop disrespectful behaviours. This year, the campaign’s focus included raising awareness about sexual harassment and sexual assault
- increased reporting of EthicsPoint data insights and sharing lessons from significant investigations with senior leaders, site management and the Integrity Working Group (described below in the section, EthicsPoint reports)
Investigation, governance and reporting
Effective systems and processes designed to report and investigate potential breaches of Our Code remain key enablers for building trust and confidence in speaking up about potential unethical conduct. In FY2021, we focused on further improvements to investigation systems and processes by having:
- a clear investigation framework, including improved investigation templates to provide increased confidence, consistency and efficiency in the investigation process
- a defined victim-centric investigation process for sexual harassment and sexual assault matters, supported by a dedicated team
- improved communications and support to various stakeholders throughout the investigation process
- stronger guidance to ensure consistency in disciplinary outcomes for serious breaches of Our Code
We plan to continue this work in FY2022 and deliver clearer expectations, improved processes and governance, and enhanced reporting and transparency.
EthicsPoint is our central, confidential 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. Reports received are required to be triaged for investigation as appropriate, in accordance with the Our Requirements for Business Conduct standard. The most serious report types are triaged to the Central Investigations team within our independent Ethics and Compliance function or relevant subject matter experts. Reports relating to regulatory breaches, such as bribery and corruption, are investigated by Ethics and Compliance Legal team.
Reports raised via EthicsPoint provide valuable insight into culture and organisational learning. Trends across reports and investigation findings, and summaries of serious breaches of Our Code are reported quarterly to the BHP Risk and Audit Committee by the Chief Compliance Officer. The most serious breaches of Our Code are also reported to our Integrity Working Group, which is accountable for oversight of the operational effectiveness of the Investigations Framework, including oversight of investigations completed by the Central Investigations team. The Integrity Working Group is chaired by the BHP Chief Compliance Officer and comprises of a number of senior leaders across BHP.
Our EthicsPoint system is intended to be used as a central repository for all Our Code concerns that are raised by employees. For this reason, we actively encourage employees to raise concerns either directly in the system or with line leaders. Line leaders are required to log in EthicsPoint all concerns relating to Our Code that are raised with them. Capturing this data in a central system helps to ensure the correct allocation of cases to appropriate investigators (including our Central Investigations team for the most serious matters) and provides improved visibility to empower our Ethics and Compliance team and management to address concerns appropriately and work proactively to enhance our ethical business culture.
A total of 4,162 reports were received into EthicsPoint in FY2021 (of these 3,541 were classified as business conduct concerns(1)), which represents an increase of 52 per cent from FY2020. This increase coincides with enhanced training on Our Code and efforts to increase awareness of the requirement for line leaders to log all concerns relating to Our Code in EthicsPoint. Of the reports received, 42 per cent were made anonymously,(2) compared with 53 per cent in FY2020. This significant reduction in anonymous reporting from FY2020 may indicate that reporters have greater confidence in the EthicsPoint process. Of the total reports received, 38 per cent contained one or more substantiated allegations.(3)
(1) Some EthicsPoint reports are enquiries, or are not related to business conduct concerns, or are a duplicate of an existing report.
(2) This excludes reports not containing a business conduct concern, and excludes reports logged by leaders on behalf of others.
(3) The calculation is based on reports received and completed in FY2021, containing one or more substantiated allegations.
Corruption often misallocates resources, reinforces poverty, undermines the integrity of government and community decision-making and wastes opportunities that arise from resource development. We are committed to contributing to the global fight against corruption and working with business, government and civil society to support this effort.
Our commitment to anti-corruption compliance is embodied in Our Charter and Our Code. We prohibit authorising, offering, giving or promising anything of value directly or indirectly to a government official to influence official action, or to anyone to encourage them to perform their work disloyally or otherwise improperly. We also prohibit facilitation payments, which are payments to government officials for routine government actions. We require our people to take care that third parties acting on our behalf do not violate anti-corruption laws.
Our Ethics and Compliance function, led by the Chief Compliance Officer, has a mandate to design and govern BHP’s compliance frameworks for key compliance risks, including anti-bribery and corruption. The function is independent of our assets and regions and comprises teams that are co-located in our main global locations and a specialised Ethics and Compliance Legal team. The Chief Compliance Officer maintains an independent reporting line to the Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer. The Chief Compliance Officer reports quarterly to the Risk and Audit Committee on ethics and compliance issues and meets at least annually with the Committee Chair.
We have a specific anti-corruption procedure that sets out mandatory requirements designed to identify and manage the risk of anti-corruption laws being breached:
- All operated assets and functions within BHP are required to conduct anti-corruption risk assessments and to re-assess these risks if the risk environment changes. Anti-corruption risk assessments follow BHP’s standard risk assessment process, including a process for identifying and testing the effectiveness of critical controls that manage corruption risk. These risk assessments form a critical part of our program, helping to ensure appropriate resources are focused on the highest areas of risk and that an adequate set of critical controls has been adopted to manage the exposures.
- Our Ethics and Compliance function focuses on activities that potentially involve higher risks of exposure to corruption, including activities relating to seeking and renewing tenements, licences, permits and other government approvals; government negotiations; shipping and port dealings; and commencing activities in countries with higher levels of corruption risk. Risk-weighted process controls also require Ethics and Compliance review and endorsement for our highest risk transactions, including gifts and hospitality, community projects and sponsorships and the engagement of third parties in circumstances assessed as presenting higher levels of corruption risk.
- We apply a risk-based system to assess business partners, customers, suppliers, contractors (including contractors who may interact with third parties on our behalf) and joint venture partners and conduct due diligence and other compliance requirements prior to transacting. Our due diligence processes are designed to, among other things, identify circumstances where politically exposed persons may be involved in our business activities so that anti-corruption-related risks can be considered and appropriately mitigated.
- We communicate to those with whom we do business our compliance requirements in relation to (among other things) corruption, bribery and extortion, including through Our Code and Our Minimum Requirements for Suppliers. A breach of our requirements and expectations can result in disciplinary action, including dismissal or termination of contractual relationships.
- We require annual training for all employees (both full-time and part-time employees) on Our Code, which as noted above, prohibits all forms of bribery and corruption. As part of this training, employees are required to confirm they will act according to Our Code and will seek clarification (including from the Ethics and Compliance team) if they do not understand any part of Our Code. In addition to anti-corruption training as part of annual training on Our Code, we deliver additional risk-based anti-corruption training to our workforce annually. We complement our training program through periodic communications to workforce in higher-risk roles, helping to maintain awareness of compliance risks and the need for these to be managed.
The Ethics and Compliance function conducts monitoring of financial and other data (for example, information from due diligence activities) to check higher-risk transactions and help verify the operation of key anti-corruption controls, such as the requirement to obtain pre-approval before engaging in higher corruption-risk transactions. A separate, independent Internal Audit and Advisory team also conducts anti-corruption audits to assess implementation of anti-corruption controls and to identify transactions and conduct that are not consistent with BHP’s policies, standards and procedures.
Our anti-corruption compliance program is designed to meet the requirements of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 1977, the UK Bribery Act 2010, the Australian Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) and applicable laws of all places where we do business. These laws are consistent with the standards of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Our anti-corruption compliance program is also consistent with Transparency International’s Business Principles for Countering Bribery.
The Ethics and Compliance team reviews the design of our anti-corruption compliance program to make any changes required by regulatory developments. Ethics and Compliance also uses the results of monitoring, audits and investigations to make appropriate enhancements to our program. Enhancements may also be based on key observations from the outcomes of public legal cases involving allegations of breaches of anti-corruption laws and external benchmarking activities. We believe regular calibration of our program enables us to ensure optimal resource allocation to areas presenting the highest corruption risks to our business.
We recognise the importance of ongoing efforts to strengthen global anti-corruption laws and actively contribute to public dialogue in this area, including through our public submissions and other advocacy supporting appropriate and effective law reform in this area. We have provided financial support for and are a Steering Committee member of the Bribery Prevention Network in Australia. As noted above, we are represented on the Board of EITI and we support and participate in OpenOwnership, the first public global database of Group ownership information and look for opportunities to encourage our suppliers and partners to do the same. We also support ultimate beneficial ownership transparency.
Our anti-corruption compliance program firmly encourages and supports employees, contractors and other third parties to report suspected corruption issues. Reports can be made a number of ways, including through our global confidential whistle-blower hotline, EthicsPoint. Our Ethics and Compliance Legal team manages investigations into potential anti-corruption issues, whether these are reported directly into EthicsPoint or via other channels. Any retaliation against someone who speaks up and reports an issue is prohibited by Our Code. Our BHP Whistleblower Policy sets out additional information, including protections available to persons who make eligible disclosures under Australian law.
In addition to anti-corruption training as part of annual training on Our Code, additional risk-based anti-corruption training was completed by 3,879 employees and contractors in FY2021, as well as employees of some of our business partners and community partners.