Rio Tinto exposes sexual assaults and the culture of “systematic” bullying

Rio Tinto revealed that 21 women said they had been raped or sexually assaulted in its mines over the past five years, in Transfer which outlined “systematic” bullying and high levels of racism across its global operations.

The London-based miner was commissioned to prepare the report by Elizabeth Broderick, the former Australian commissioner of gender discrimination, last year to investigate workplace culture.

The report, which covers a five-year period and was based on a survey of nearly 10,000 employees in Rio Tinto, revealed that nearly 30 percent of women and 7 percent of men said they had experienced sexual harassment at work. Of these, 21 women also reported cases of rape, actual sexual assault, or attempted rape.

Nearly half of Rio Tinto employees have reported being bullied. Racism was also prevalent in the company, with 40 percent of men and 32 percent of women Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander experiencing discrimination in the workplace.

“I am ashamed and very sorry for knowing the extent of bullying, sexual harassment and racism in Rio Tinto,” he said. Jacob StausholmCEO, Mining Company.

The report included female employees’ accounts of workers being attacked and verbally abused, accusations of aggressive sexual behavior that were ignored, outspoken racist comments, a “culture of silence” about complaints, and a culture of “hyper-masculinity” in the company’s mines.

The report came on the heels of Rio Tinto’s global condemnation in 2020 of Destruction of Juukan Gorge The Caves, an ancient sacred site of the aborigines that was at the heart of iron ore operations. The protest led to the replacement of its CEO and reevaluation of company culture.

A respondent in Broderick’s report said: “Isn’t it sad that in 2021, after Goukan, we have to continue to fight racism. We are fighting against institutionalized racism here. [in this location]. “

Rio Tinto is the latest mining company to tackle issues around corporate culture. BHP said last year that it owns 48 workers were fired on sexual assault and harassment since 2019, in a note submitted to a parliamentary inquiry into sexual assault in remote mining communities in Western Australia.

Stausholm, speaking to the Financial Times from Melbourne, said he was surprised by the report’s findings, particularly the high rates of bullying.

He said the failures raised by the report were felt in Rio Tinto’s global operations, which range from South Africa to Mongolia, and should not be considered isolated incidents.

The three themes mentioned – bullying, sexual harassment and racism – were seen around the world. These are more methodological issues than just identifying two sites.

Rio Tinto Australia CEO Kelly Parker said the company had already moved to address issues with its internal reporting system after witnesses told Broderick they did not trust filing a complaint with the company and felt doing so could put them or their future careers at risk. .

Parker said the company will work to identify “imbalances of power” that have fostered a culture of bullying and led to sexual harassment and racism.

Despite its findings, the report also showed that a significant number of employees felt the company had a genuine desire to address their shortcomings.

“This report is no reason to lower confidence in Rio Tinto. By proactively commissioning this study, one of the largest of its kind in the resource industry, it shows a very clear commitment to increasing transparency, accountability and action,” Broderick said in a statement.

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