Business Maverick

Business Maverick

BHP Says It Must Do More to Address Toxic Workplace Culture

Ken Mackenzie, chairman of BHP Group Ltd., speaks during a news conference at the company's headquarters in Melbourne, Australia, on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. BHP named Mike Henry, the head of its Australian operations, as chief executive officer to steer the world's top miner through looming challenges from slower growth in China and investor pressure over climate change.

BHP Group Ltd. has been focused on tackling all forms of harassment at its workplaces for some time, but the company still has more to do, Chairman Ken MacKenzie said in a speech Wednesday. 

His comments come after rival miner Rio Tinto Group in Feb. published an explosive report showing evidence of endemic sexual harassment, racism and bullying across its operations. The industry’s remote mines can be especially risky for women. They remain largely male-dominated, with workers living in camp-style accommodation that blurs the line between work and social life.

“We know unacceptable behaviour still occurs in all workplaces, including BHP. And it shouldn’t,” MacKenzie told a conference in Melbourne. “Our data shows that an inclusive and diverse workforce is safer, more engaged and more productive,” he added.

BHP revealed last year that it had fired 48 workers at its sites in Western Australia since July 2019 after verifying allegations of harassment, as well as receiving two substantiated allegations of rape.

READ: Mining Giants Face a Sexual Harassment Reckoning as BHP Fires 48

The global miner has increased female participation across the business by two-thirds since 2016, lifting it to over 30%, MacKenzie said, although it still has work to do to meet an aspirational target of gender balance by 2025.

Demands on large corporations from a range of stakeholders “seem louder, and more conflicting than ever before,” MacKenzie said, but BHP must not lose sight of the opportunities afforded by the increased focus on environmental, social and governance issues.

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