Rio Tinto lifts lid on culture of sexual harassment & racism

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About half of the mining giant’s employees who responded to an external review say they have been bullied

Anglo-Australian mining multinational Rio Tinto released a shocking report on Tuesday, revealing that racism, sexism, harassment and sexual assault are rife among its global workforce of 47,500.

The report came as a result of an external review that the mining giant commissioned in 2021 after a string of complaints and scandals, including the blowing-up of an ancient Aboriginal site in Western Australia to expand an iron ore mine.

According to the report, nearly half of the company’s employees said they had been bullied, while racism was found to be common across a number of areas. The survey also revealed that “people working in a country different to their birth experienced high rates of racism, and that 39.8% of men and 31.8% of women who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in Australia experienced racism.”

The results were “disturbing,” according to Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm, who said the company would implement all 26 recommendations from the report that was overseen by Australia’s former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick.

“The eye-opener for me was twofold,” Stausholm said, as quoted by Reuters. “I hadn’t realised how much bullying exists in the company and secondly that it’s quite systemic – the three issues of bullying, sexual harassment and racism… that’s extremely disturbing.”

Headquartered in London, Rio Tinto employs people in 35 countries. Its workplace review reportedly involved more than 10,000 respondents to an online survey, interactive group and individual sessions, and a call for written entries.

The findings are the latest blow to the corporation that has been trying to repair its image after it demolished a 46,000-year-old sacred Indigenous site in Australia to expand an iron ore mine. In 2020, the backlash over the destruction forced out former CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques.

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