Sourcing

Rio Tinto Workplace Report Reveals ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Culture

SourcingFeb 08, 2022

Rio Tinto Workplace Report Reveals ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Culture

Employees reported instances of sexual assault and harassment, racism, bullying, and other forms of discrimination.

Rio Tinto employees in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, where the mining company owns iron ore assets. The company recently issued a report about its workplace culture, detailing accounts of sexual assault and harassment, racism, bullying, and other forms of discrimination. (Image courtesy of Rio Tinto)
Melbourne, Australia—Rio Tinto published a review of its workplace culture earlier this month, uncovering reports of sexual assault and harassment, racism, bullying and other forms of discrimination throughout the company.

The review, facilitated by former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, was carried out as part of the mining company’s “Everyday Respect” task force.

The company launched the task force in March 2021, looking to “better understand, prevent and respond to harmful behaviors in the workplace,” according to a press release about the findings.

What the report uncovered was “deeply disturbing,” said Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm.

The study was conducted over eight months and involved asking 10,303 people to share their experiences via an online survey, which was available in 10 languages.

There were also 109 group listening sessions, held in 7 languages at nearly 20 different locations, as well as 85 confidential individual listening sessions, and 138 individual written submissions.

Looking at the last five years, the review found that bullying and sexism are systemic across worksites.

Employees said they were expected to “toughen up,” with nearly half (48 percent) of those surveyed reporting being bullied. Women (53 percent) were more likely to experience bullying than men (47 percent).

By location, employees in Australia (52 percent) and South Africa (56 percent) were the most likely to experience bullying.

Of those surveyed, 28 percent of women and 7 percent of men reported having been sexually harassed at work. Twenty-one women reported actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.

Women also reported various instances of sexism and discrimination, including fear of letting managers know they were pregnant and difficulty getting a flexible work schedule.

They also reported being denied gender-specific bathrooms, being left out of decisions and overlooked for promotions, and being asked to take notes, get coffee, or do a colleague’s laundry.

One respondent said that she “would not recommend Rio Tinto as a place to work for female friends or colleagues.”

Racism was said to be “common” in several areas, especially for those working outside of the country where they were born.

Of those who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in Australia, 40 percent of men and 32 percent of women said they experienced racism.

“I have copped racism in every single corner of this company,” said one employee.

 Related stories will be right here … 

LGBTQI+ employees reported significantly higher rates of bullying, sexual harassment, and racism compared with employees who do not identify themselves in that way.

These employees reported not feeling safe to identify themselves as LGBTQI+ to their colleagues and, when they did, were excluded and targeted by harassment.

“Overall, their comments suggest that the same hypermasculine norms and culture that can fuel everyday sexism and sexual harassment can also fuel heterosexism, making the inclusion and safety of employees who identify as LGBTQI+ a priority in any cultural reform,” said the report.

Employees also reported “harmful behavior” between employees and leaders and pointed to a “hierarchical, male-dominated culture” as a specific risk factor.

This behavior has been tolerated or normalized, said the report, and the identities of serial offenders are often an open secret.

The report found that employees feel there is little accountability, particularly for senior leaders, who behave in this manner and that these leaders are able to avoid consequences for this behavior.

Employees also highlighted a “capability gap” among those leading and managing people across all areas of the company, but particularly on the frontline.

“The findings of this report are deeply disturbing to me and should be to everyone who reads them. I offer my heartfelt apology to every team member, past or present, who has suffered as a result of these behaviors. This is not the kind of company we want to be,” said Stausholm.

He said he felt “shame and enormous regret” at what has gone on and added that he was grateful to those employees who came forward and shared their stories.

Apologies aside, the company’s report outlined 26 recommendations to improve workplace culture and prevent discriminatory and otherwise unacceptable behavior.

The recommendations focus on five key areas, including preventing harmful behavior via training and education programs.

“Rio Tinto places considerable and critical importance on safety and risk minimization. It is considered that this should extend to the prevention of harmful behaviors,” said the report.

Another key area of focus is leadership, with the report suggesting the company recruit and promote people with both subject matter expertise and people management ability.

The report also highlighted the need for a “caring and human-centered response to disrespect and harmful behavior,” suggesting the formation of an independent, confidential, and discrete unit that can respond to reports of harmful behavior and take a “trauma-informed” approach to supporting those affected.

The report noted the importance of providing employees with safe and appropriate facilities and the benefit of evaluating the company’s progress toward reform.

“Whilst progress is occurring at Rio Tinto, the challenge now is to ensure that this cultural shift—embedding everyday respect, eradicating harmful behaviors and ensuring consequences for those who use them—is replicated at all levels of the organization,” said the report.

The report recommended the company have an independent review of its progress within two years of implementing the recommendations.

“This report is not a reason for reduced confidence in Rio Tinto,” said Elizabeth Broderick.

“By proactively commissioning this study, one of the largest of its kind within the resources industry, it demonstrates a very clear commitment to increased transparency, accountability and action.”

Rio Tinto’s leadership team is motivated to change, said Broderick, and recognizes that a new approach needs to be taken to combat these serious issues.

There is also a high level of confidence among employees that significant changes can be made over the next two years, Broderick added.

Stausholm said, “I am determined that by implementing appropriate actions to address the recommendations, and with the management team’s commitment to a safe, respectful and inclusive Rio Tinto in all areas, we will make positive and lasting change and strengthen our workplace culture for the long term.”

The full report can be found here.

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

The Latest

Supplier BulletinJun 24, 2022
AGTA GemFair™ Denver is the Place to Be in September!

Sponsored by AGTA

Recorded WebinarsJun 24, 2022
Vegas Jewelry Recap: The Editors Weigh In

Watch the webinar in which National Jeweler’s editors talk about jewelry market week trends and their predictions for the rest of 2022.

MajorsJun 24, 2022
Banter by Piercing Pagoda Celebrates Pride with ‘SayGay’ Necklace

All proceeds up to $25,000 will benefit the It Gets Better Project, a nonprofit that supports LGBTQ+ youth.

Brought to you by
Discover The Extraordinary Italian Jewelry In Las Vegas!

Experience all the Italian Jewelry market has to offer in Las Vegas.

CollectionsJun 24, 2022
Piece of the Week: Marie Lichtenberg’s Hidden Message Locket

It’s a reminder that life is best lived with discretion.

Weekly QuizJun 23, 2022
This Week’s Quiz
Test your knowledge of the latest jewelry news with this quick test.
Take the Quiz
TechnologyJun 24, 2022
Cloud-Based POS Software Jewel360 Launches for Jewelry Retailers

The end-to-end software allows for real-time control over all sales, inventory, repairs, customer communications, and marketing.

EditorsJun 23, 2022
Antique Show Observations From a First-Time Attendee

Associate Editor Lenore Fedow shares her impressions of the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show and a few of her favorite finds.

Brought to you by
3 Reasons to Offer Estate Buying at Your Store

Provide your customers with a seamless selling solution by partnering with Windsor Jewelers, Inc.

GradingJun 23, 2022
AIGS Launches Grading Report for ‘Santa Maria’ Aquamarine

The Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences aims to set a color standard for the trade name.

AuctionsJun 23, 2022
Auction House Freeman’s Appoints First Rep in Florida

Kate Della Monica, a senior specialist in the Jewelry and Watches department, will relocate to the Sunshine State.

Lab-GrownJun 22, 2022
LVMH Luxury Ventures Sinks Money Into Lab-Grown Diamond Start-Up

LVMH’s investment arm has taken a stake in Lusix, a lab-grown diamond company based in Israel.

AuctionsJun 22, 2022
Here’s How Two 100-Plus-Carat Diamonds Did at Auction

Sotheby’s New York put a colorless diamond and a fancy deep orange-brown diamond up for sale last week, with mixed results.

CrimeJun 22, 2022
Leviev Diamonds Launches Bracelet to Help ‘Tinder Swindler’ Victims

Profits will help them recoup financial losses.

MajorsJun 22, 2022
Swarovski Names First Non-Family CEO

Retail veteran Alexis Nasard will step in as CEO on July 4.

ColumnistsJun 21, 2022
State of the Majors 2022: Reflections on Resilience

After suffering a professional setback, columnist Peter Smith reflects on our ability to bounce back even when the hits keep on coming.

IndependentsJun 21, 2022
Jeweler Tommy Glatz, Known for Being Creative and Kind, Dies at 68

Glatz owned and operated Glatz Jewelers in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania for more than 40 years.

Events & AwardsJun 21, 2022
24 Karat Club of Southern California Will Honor These Industry Leaders

The organization will present three awards at its annual dinner, dance, and gala in October.

MajorsJun 21, 2022
David Yurman Hires Chief of People, Strategy

Former McKinsey partner Emily Yueh marks new president Evan Yurman’s first hire.

TrendsJun 17, 2022
Britney Spears Wore Over $500K of Stephanie Gottlieb Diamonds at Her Wedding

The New York jeweler also made the pop star’s wedding bands.

AuctionsJun 17, 2022
5-Carat Paraiba Tourmaline Ring to Hit the Auction Block

It’s predicted to sell for up to $484,000 during the Bonhams Hong Kong Jewels and Jadeite auction on June 22.

Events & AwardsJun 17, 2022
WJA Foundation to Offer Tech Scholarships for Women of Color

The recipient will receive up to $17,500 toward a tech-focused certification or program of their choice.

CollectionsJun 17, 2022
Piece of the Week: Gemella’s ‘Stella’ Necklace

It’s as versatile as it is glamorous.

Supplier BulletinJun 16, 2022
HiBid Is A Jewelry Lover’s Best Friend

Sponsored by HiBid

TechnologyJun 16, 2022
Cartier, Amazon Suing ‘Influencer,’ Sellers Over Counterfeit ‘Love’ Jewelry

The alleged scheme involving fake “Love” bracelets, necklaces and rings was designed to circumvent Amazon’s counterfeit detection tools.

MajorsJun 16, 2022
Helzberg CEO Beryl Raff to Retire

Chief Financial Officer Brad Hampton will take over as the retailer’s new CEO.

CollectionsJun 16, 2022
Kirk Kara Unveils ‘Rayana’ Collection, New Bridal Styles at Luxury Show

Its new collection with subtle swirl designs draws inspiration from the family’s Armenian roots.

WatchesJun 16, 2022
Tudor Opens LA Flagship Boutique

It’s located at the Westfield Century City outdoor shopping center.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy