Sexual harassment1 is not acceptable and is contrary to our values. Our position on this is clear and aligned to our aspiration of a gender-balanced employee workforce by FY2025. Gender balance in every team and at every level is an important part of our approach to eliminate sexual harassment.
The Australian Human Rights Commission’s most recent national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces has found that 71 per cent of Australians have been sexually harassed in their lifetimes and 39 per cent of Australian women experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the five years to 2018. The same survey concluded that in the mining industry, an estimated 74 per cent of women and 32 per cent of men had experienced workplace sexual harassment in the past five years. Back in 2018, we accepted those findings as true for our industry and for BHP globally, and we have focused on understanding why the behaviours exist, and what we needed to do to urgently address them at BHP.
We are deeply sorry and apologise unreservedly to those who have experienced, or continue to experience, any form of sexual harassment anywhere at BHP. We recognise the harmful impacts on individuals resulting from these behaviours.
We understand that it can be difficult for people to come forward to report sexual harassment and thank all of those who have, for their courage in doing so. We are also grateful to our employees and other stakeholders for their insights and suggestions for changes in our workplaces. Their feedback informs our approach. We are determined to make continued progress in eliminating sexual harassment and in ensuring our workplaces are safe and inclusive for everyone.
1 ‘Sexual harassment’ is, as defined in the Respect@Work report, an unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated, where a reasonable person would anticipate that reaction in the circumstances. Sexual harassment encompasses a range of conduct including displaying sexually graphic images, sexually suggestive comments, suggestive or inappropriate looks, gestures or staring, non-consensual touching or acts of a sexual nature and sexual assault.
Our approach to prevent sexual harassment
In 2018, we defined sexual harassment as a health and safety risk, to be overseen in the same way as other occupational health and safety risks. This approach provides the right framework for addressing these behaviours, allowing us to apply a systematic, risk-based approach to evaluating and managing the risks. Our approach includes conducting risk assessments to identify scenarios in which sexual harassment risks may arise, their causes and the controls we can implement to prevent them and reduce harm.
As part of our risk assessment processes, we engaged members of our workforce with experience at site and accommodation villages, and experts in health and safety, harassment and inclusion and diversity. Through this, we identified factors that can contribute to the risk of workplace sexual harassment that are more pronounced in the mining industry, as well as factors that are common across all industries and workplaces. Examples of risks that can be more pronounced in the mining industry include isolated or remote working locations, a largely male-dominated workforce and accommodation villages.
Taking these into account, we identified and developed controls and actions to help prevent sexual harassment and reduce its harmful impacts. Our core controls and areas for action are culture, leadership and training; security measures at accommodation villages; recruitment processes; contractor and third-party engagement; emergency response; trauma-informed (wellbeing) care; accessible, confidential reporting and person-centred investigations; and appropriate disciplinary action.
Reports of sexual harassment
The reporting rate of sexual harassment at BHP has increased in recent years. We believe this reflects the actions we have taken to increase awareness and promote and centralise reporting and investigations, along with broader societal developments and intolerance of this behaviour. Since October 2020, BHP managers and leaders have been required to enter any serious conduct issues raised directly with them, including sexual harassment, into EthicsPoint1 (anonymously if requested). This year, 47 per cent of reports received into EthicsPoint have been logged by managers or leaders in accordance with this new policy.
During FY2022 across BHP’s global operations and offices 103 reported and investigated cases of conduct of sexual harassment were substantiated.2
Of the 103 substantiated cases:
- 37 involved non-consensual kissing or touching of a sexual nature, which includes a broad range of behaviour of varying severity. None of these cases involved non-consensual penetration or intercourse, however we recognise that this conduct can occur and has occurred in the past
- 66 involved other forms of sexual harassment, including inappropriate comments of a sexual nature, unwelcome gestures or comments, sending inappropriate text messages or images, or other unwanted advances or invitations
- Of these 103 substantiated cases, in 101 cases the individual responsible has had their employment terminated (or they have been removed from site if a contractor), they have resigned or are otherwise no longer working at BHP.
In addition to the matters listed above, in FY2022 87 of sexual harassment went through Alternative Resolution Options (AROs). AROs are alternative forms of response and resolution other than investigations, including supported conversations with respondents, additional training, monitoring or awareness raising on BHP’s expectations of respectful behaviours in the workplace. This process only occurs where an ARO is proportionate to the nature of the conduct and with the agreement of the impacted person.
We continue to work with external experts on how best to respond to cases to ensure we have a proportionate approach to reports. We will continue to monitor and review the use of AROs to ensure it is meeting the needs of impacted people where it is used and to improve reporting to support organisational learnings.
We will continue to encourage reporting and we are committed to taking action. We put the needs of anyone impacted by this behaviour at the forefront of our processes and we are committed to validating, caring for and supporting anyone in our business who is affected by this behaviour. This includes internal practical and wellbeing support mechanisms, support through our tailored Employee Assistance Program and options to access trauma-specific clinical and non-clinical care with experienced clinicians.
We are committed to working closely with our people, others in industry and other stakeholders to implement the necessary processes and systems designed to ensure our workplaces are safe and inclusive for everyone.
1 EthicsPoint is our confidential reporting tool. It 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.
2 This does not include investigations that are currently in progress.
OversightIn FY2022, a Project Management Office (PMO) was established through the office of the CEO to provide central governance over all sexual harassment work. The priority focus areas of that work include driving progress toward gender balance, creating a safe and respectful workplace, building accountability and capability of leaders, upskilling our workforce to be ‘active bystanders’, enhancing our policies, processes and controls, and providing person-centred and trauma-informed response and support. The PMO reports on progress against implementation of our critical controls and other key focus areas that underpin our overarching sexual harassment prevention strategy to senior management and the Board.
Security and physical infrastructureWe have continued to invest in security programs and physical infrastructure designed to prevent and respond to sexual harassment at our accommodation facilities. Our minimum security requirements for all BHP owned and operated accommodation villages include requirements for access controls, village policies and procedures to manage respectful behaviours, CCTV, lighting, security signage, room allocation procedures, security personnel and incident response.
Reporting and response
We encourage our workforce to report concerns, including providing centralised and confidential reporting tools and mandatory reporting requirements for line leaders. We do not tolerate any form of retaliation for raising a concern and we address these actions if they occur. We ceased using non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) or imposing confidentiality obligations on complainants in settlement agreements relating to sexual harassment in March 2019 and we do not enforce any non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) or confidentiality obligations on complainants in historical agreements.
Investigation of reports of sexual harassment are conducted by our specialised central investigation team, which is independent of our other business units. This team includes experts trained in a person-centred, trauma-informed approach, to ensure that the impacted person is placed at the centre of all decisions made during the investigation process and to minimise the risk of further harm to that individual.
We established our global Support Service in FY2022, to provide dedicated, end-to-end case coordination for anyone impacted by sexual harassment, designed to ensure they obtain appropriate support and information. The Support Service can also provide resolution options when an investigation is not wanted by the impacted person or cannot proceed.
Communication of expectationsOur position on sexual harassment has been reinforced through regular senior leadership communications. These include messages from our CEO, on-site signage regarding our expectations and avenues for support, and we have provided sexual harassment prevention training to BHP line leaders, aimed at setting clear expectations about appropriate conduct and driving consistent disciplinary outcomes. Across June and July 2022, we held Safety Stops specifically focused on sexual harassment, racism and bullying for our teams globally. The stops were intended to build awareness, understanding, and capability, as well as to reinforce expectations within our teams.
As part of our commitment to health and safety, all workplaces should be free from the use of alcohol and illegal drugs, and the misuse of other substances, in accordance with Our Code of Conduct. All those who attend a BHP site, including employees, are expected to be alcohol and drug free, and may be asked to undergo random alcohol and drug testing. We also provide support for those who need it to address an alcohol or drug dependency.
For accommodation villages, our Minerals Australia Alcohol Management Standard was implemented across our owned and operated village facilities from 1 July 2021. It includes a range of limits on alcohol consumption. Residents and visitors who breach the standard may be subject to action, including removal of access to the village for a resident or visitor, or disciplinary action for employees. Since the introduction of the standard, our reviews have indicated that there has been a reduction in alcohol consumption and residents are making healthier choices, with an increase in the use of recreational facilities. Alcohol is not permitted at our accommodation villages in Chile and Canada.
Listening to employees, measuring progress and assigning accountabilityWe have channels through which the Board and senior leaders receive information on workplace culture and conduct. These include anonymous employee and contractor perception surveys and our Field Leadership Program. Our perception surveys are conducted three times per year and were redesigned in FY2021 to include more targeted questions to provide leaders with greater insight into key safety and engagement metrics, which we have identified as critical foundations for our culture. Executive leadership and Group-wide performance criteria are linked to remuneration that includes progress towards greater inclusion, diversity and gender representation. In FY2022, we introduced key performance indicators for our Executive Leadership Team and other BHP employees that linked remuneration outcomes to progress against our program of work to address sexual harassment. This includes implementation of controls in line with BHP’s sexual harassment risk assessments.
Engaging with and learning from others
We continue to measure and test our focus and areas for action. In FY2022 we:
- engaged and learnt from external experts who reviewed the controls we have in place and advised on best practice in preventing sexual harassment, and minimising further harm when responding to sexual harassment
- engaged Kristen Hilton (former Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner) to provide expert guidance on our prevention and response framework
- conducted a sexual harassment audit across Minerals Americas further to the FY2021 sexual harassment audit conducted across Minerals Australia
- contributed to knowledge sharing with other industry participants in relation to addressing sexual harassment, and considered broader learnings from external reports such as the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report and the Report into Workplace Culture at Rio Tinto by Elizabeth Broderick & Co
- worked with our contracting and supplier organisations to address sexual harassment, including collaboration on response protocols, joint training sessions and knowledge sharing
- undertook a series of listening workshops
Through these initiatives we identified a need for further focus on preventative controls, particularly with respect to culture and behaviours. This is in addition to the controls already in place or committed for implementation in FY2022 which included security, accommodation standards, alcohol measures, recruitment and discipline.
We are committed to working with others in the industry and beyond to address sexual harassment risks. BHP is a member of the Minerals Council of Australia Respect@Work Taskforce and the Chamber of Minerals & Energy WA Safe and Respectful Behaviours Working Group. Both groups aim to build industry capability and capacity though sharing knowledge and developing shared resources.
In FY2022, we participated in Western Australia’s parliamentary inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry (WA Inquiry), including through a detailed written submission in August 2021. BHP welcomes the final report titled ‘Enough is enough’ released on 23 June 2022. We acknowledge the significant work of the parliamentary committee and in particular, the many people who shared their stories and experiences as part of the inquiry process.
Continuing to make progress
While we have made progress, there is still much more to do. Our focus in FY2023 will be to continue:
- focusing on increasing female leader representation across our operations
- continuous improvement across our suite of controls
- engaging with our people, encouraging and empowering them to take action as active bystanders and enhance capability
- encouraging increased reporting
- enhancing our approach to supporting impacted persons to thrive at BHP and have successful careers with us