Rio Tinto report reveals ‘disturbing’ culture of sexual harassment, racism and bullying

FILE PHOTO: The Rio Tinto logo is seen at its offices in Perth, Western Australia state, Australia, November 19, 2015. REUTERS/David Gray

Por Praveen Menon

Feb 1 (Reuters) – A report released by Rio Tinto has exposed a culture of bullying, harassment and racism at the global mining giant, including 21 allegations of actual or attempted rape or sexual assault in the last five years.

Nearly half of employees who responded to an external review of the miner’s workplace culture, commissioned by Rio, said they had been subjected to workplace bullying, while racism was common in several areas.

Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm said the results were “concerning” and that the company would implement the 26 recommendations in the report by former Australian sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick.

“The report was a doubly eye-opener for me,” Stausholm told Reuters. “I hadn’t realized how much bullying exists in the company and secondly that it’s quite systemic – the three issues of workplace bullying, sexual bullying and racism… it’s extremely concerning.”

Rio Tinto released the review in March last year. More than 10,000 employees, almost a quarter of its 45,000 workers, shared their experiences and opinions for the study.

The report found that nearly 30% of women and about 7% of men had experienced sexual harassment at work, and that 21 women had reported actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.

Racism was a “significant challenge” for employees in many places. People working in a country other than their birth country experienced high rates of racism, while almost 40% of men who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in Australia had experienced racism.

“I have experienced racism in every corner of this company,” an employee quoted anonymously said.

Rio said the reforms will focus on the company’s management commitment to creating a safe and inclusive work environment, while also increasing diversity within the company. It will also ensure the safety of the company’s remote mining facilities and make it easier for staff to report unacceptable behaviour.


Rio’s report comes ahead of the release of another Western Australian state government report later this year on sexual harassment in mining camps in the state, which provides more than half of the world’s iron ore supply.

Reports submitted to the inquiry last year said sexual harassment was widespread in mining camps in Western Australia, which is home to mines owned by global companies such as BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue.

In a 2020 report, an Australian Human Rights Commission investigation into sexual harassment found that 74% of women in the mining industry had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the past five years, in part due to gender imbalance. gender.

Almost 80% of Rio Tinto’s workforce are men.

“Creating a safe and respectful work culture will encourage people of all backgrounds and diversity to thrive in our organisations,” Kellie Parker, Rio Tinto’s Australian managing director, told Reuters.

Male and female employees in South Africa experienced the highest rates of racism. Employees discussed the prevalence of racism and its impact on their confidence, self-esteem, and job performance.

“Rio is a Caucasian-oriented company,” an employee said in the report.

Rio said the report came at a crucial time when workplace cultures are changing against the backdrop of #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and other global movements, as well as an Australian investigation into Rio’s destruction. Juukan Gorge cave, a landmark for Aboriginal heritage.

Stausholm said that the Juukan Gorge had caused the biggest management change in Rio’s history and that the new team wanted to push through more changes.

“It’s about riding the spur of the moment and trying to get these stocks moving quickly, because we can’t change them overnight.”

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Richard Pullin; translated by Tomás Cobos)

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