Our priority is to ensure our workplaces are safe and inclusive for everyone who works or engages with BHP. We acknowledge the presence of sexual harassment1 in the mining industry. We consider sexual harassment to be a material health and safety risk, harmful to impacted individuals, bystanders, our partners and stakeholders.
BHP welcomed the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Act 2022 (Cth) (Respect@Work Act), which came into effect in December 2022. This amended the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) to require employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate, as far as possible, unlawful sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sex-based harassment, victimisation and work environments that are hostile on the grounds of sex.
Our approach to prevent sexual harassment
In CY2018, we defined sexual harassment as a health and safety risk, to be overseen in the same way as other work health and safety risks. Since this time, we have been engaging our workforce and external experts as we address harmful behaviours with a risk-based approach. In FY2022, a Project Management Office (PMO) was established through the office of the CEO to provide central governance over all sexual harassment work, which included priority focus areas, such as 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. In FY2023, the Sexual Harassment Prevention PMO continued to increase transparency, drive accountability and rigorous governance, incorporate organisational lessons learned and best practice into key programs of work and regularly engage senior management and the Board.
Our focus in FY2024 will be to continue:
- focusing on initiatives that increase female representation across our operations
- implementing our enhanced suite of sexual harassment prevention controls, which incorporate organisational learnings and third-party expert recommendations
- engaging and empowering our entire workforce to take action as active bystanders and enhancing their capabilities
- encouraging increased incident reporting and enhancing our approach to supporting impacted persons to thrive at BHP
Reports of sexual harassment
There were 475 reports of sexual harassment in FY2023. We continue to take action to increase awareness and promote reporting, response and investigations in relation to these matters. Since October 2020, BHP managers and leaders have been required to enter any serious conduct issues raised directly with them, including sexual harassment, into EthicsPoint2 (anonymously if requested). As expected, with this focus on safe reporting and leadership reporting onus, the reported cases remain high. During the year, 44 per cent of sexual harassment reports received into EthicsPoint were logged by managers or leaders on behalf of their direct reports.
In FY2023, we reported all established cases of sexual harassment closed in this financial year regardless of when they were initially reported. This is a change from FY2022 where we disclosed established cases of sexual harassment that were reported and closed in FY2022. The change to the reporting of cases was a result of BHP’s continuous improvement efforts to better capture the types of conduct occurring.
This change in reporting has an impact in the comparability of the number of established sexual harassment cases between FY2022 and FY2023. Of the 167 established cases in FY2023, 43 cases were opened in FY2022 (or prior years) but closed this financial year.
During FY2023, across BHP’s global operations and offices, 167 investigated cases of sexual harassment conduct were established as having occurred.3
Our position on sexual harassment is reinforced through regular senior leadership communications. These include messages from our CEO, Executive Leadership Team and on-site signage regarding our expectations and avenues for support. Executive and senior leader remuneration are linked to Group-wide performance criteria, which includes progress towards greater inclusion, diversity and gender representation. This includes the program of work to address sexual harassment.
Respectful behaviour and sexual harassment prevention and response training is provided to BHP line leaders, aimed at setting clear expectations about appropriate conduct, supporting leaders to respond appropriately and drive consistent disciplinary outcomes.
Risk assessment and transparency
Defining sexual harassment as a health and safety risk in CY2018, to be overseen in the same way as other work health and safety risks, was intended to provide a robust 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 potential causes and the controls we can implement to prevent them and reduce harm. This process identified factors that can contribute to the risk of workplace sexual harassment that are more pronounced in the mining industry, (including isolated or remote working locations, a largely male-dominated workforce and accommodation villages), as well as factors that are common across all industries and workplaces.
In FY2023, we worked to further enhance our current controls to help prevent sexual harassment and reduce its harmful impacts. Engagements with external experts, as well as members of our workforce, have identified a need for further focus on preventative controls, particularly with respect to culture and behaviours. Our core controls to prevent sexual harassment include recruitment processes; training; security measures at accommodation villages; contractor and third-party engagement; emergency response; trauma-informed care for impacted persons; accessible, confidential reporting, person-centred response and investigations; and appropriate disciplinary action. We will also embed new controls related to leadership, technology and continuous improvement in FY2024.
BHP has a clear aspiration to have a gender-balanced employee workforce by FY2025. A diverse and inclusive workforce in every team and at every level is an important part of our approach to preventing sexual harassment.
BHP recognises that suppliers and contractors in our ecosystem have shared values around preventing sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination in our industry and communities. Third-party contractors are expected to comply with Our Code of Conduct and have access to BHP EthicsPoint, Support Service, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and other related care and medical/psychological treatment pathways. Contractors are also embedded in many aspects of BHP’s way of working, including in routines such as toolbox talks and safety shares, perception surveys and required training.
Knowledge of sexual harassment prevention and response
Since FY2018, we have been continuing to develop a sustained program of work designed to increase the capability of our workforce to identify and call out disrespectful behaviour, including sexual harassment, racism and bullying.
BHP prioritises the wellbeing, psychological safety and needs of all people affected by sexual harassment, sex-based discrimination and victimisation. We established our global Support Service in FY2022 to provide dedicated, end-to-end case coordination for anyone impacted by sexual harassment, which is designed to assist them to 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. In FY2023, improvements were made to the Support Service, including increased resourcing and support for participants of racism cases.
We encourage our workforce to report concerns, including by 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. We ceased using non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) or imposing confidentiality obligations on complainants in respect of their experiences in settlement agreements relating to sexual harassment in March 2019. We do not enforce any NDAs or confidentiality obligations on complainants of sexual harassment in historical agreements.
Investigations of reports of sexual harassment are conducted by our specialised Investigations and Response team, which is independent from our other business units. This team includes experts trained in a person-centred, trauma-informed approach to help place the impacted person at the centre of decisions made during the investigation process and to minimise the risk of further harm to that individual.
We took steps to further improve our reporting and response processes in FY2023, including the implementation of a new response and investigation framework to help ensure BHP’s response to all alleged misconduct is trauma-informed and proportionate to potential harm. Improvements have also been made to the reporting and sharing of misconduct outcomes.
De-identified information and trend analysis data on the number of complaints, nature of complaints, resolution pathways, outcomes and timelines are accessible by leadership to raise awareness and support continuous improvement of how we prevent and mitigate the impacts of sexual harassment.
We measure our progress and are committed to continually improving our approach. In FY2023 we:
- engaged Kristen Hilton (former Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner) to enhance our sexual harassment prevention and response framework, review the program of work being undertaken by the sexual harassment PMO and identify areas for prioritisation
- conducted an internal sexual harassment prevention program audit across our Minerals Australia and Minerals Americas operated asset workforce, following audits conducted in FY2021 and FY2022
- conducted a number of assurance reviews to test and improve the operational effectiveness of the critical controls in place at BHP’s assets and workplaces
- 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 (2020), Time for respect: Fifth national survey of sexual harassment in Australian Workplaces (2022), and the WA Parliamentary Inquiry report ‘Enough is enough’ Sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry
- undertook a series of listening workshops with employees, with a particular focus on improving our critical controls
- undertook consultation sessions to inform our global action plan for FY2024 and FY2025
We also remain 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’s Respect@Work Taskforce and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia’s Safe and Respectful Behaviours Working Group. Both groups aim to build industry capability and capacity though sharing knowledge and developing shared resources.
1 ‘Sexual harassment’ is, as defined in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), an unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, in circumstances where a reasonable person would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated and/or intimidated. 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. We note the definition of sexual harassment may vary in different jurisdictions.
2 EthicsPoint is our confidential reporting tool. It is accessible to all, including external partners and stakeholders and the public, to report conduct that may be unethical, illegal or inconsistent with Our Code of Conduct.
3 This does not include investigations that are currently in progress and is exclusive of OZ Minerals data.