It’s Time For Change In The Mining Industry

It’s Time For Change In The Mining Industry

A systemic culture of bullying, as well as unacceptably high levels of sexism and sexual harassment plaguing employees

– these were the damning revelations of the recent Report into Workplace Culture at multinational mining corporation, Rio Tinto.

However, as former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick noted, Rio Tinto have shown a commitment to transparency and appear to be taking action to strengthen their culture and eliminate bullying & harassment. Such concerns must be tackled as serious workplace safety matters.

There needs to be a focus on respect and safety moving forward. Rio Tinto have now realised that having a safe, respectful and positive culture is key.

How are Rio Tinto addressing this?

The company proactively commissioned the study and made the final report public, and in addition to sharing a statement the Chief Executive of Rio Tinto, Jakob Stausholm, has provided a heartfelt apology to every team member, past or present, that may have suffered as a result of such behaviours.

The three key areas Rio Tinto will focus upon are:

  1. Leadership which will include commitment to creating ‘safe, respectful and inclusive working environments to prevent harmful behaviours and better support people in vulnerable situations’;
  2. Providing safe and inclusive accommodation facilities; and
  3. Calling out unacceptable behaviour in a safe environment.

Broderick recommended that the safety of women in relation to the gyms, bathrooms, the location of wet mess areas, accomodation location, lighting and importantly the accessibility of security, be considered as a matter of urgency. This will have a profound effect on the way women work and help ensure that they feel safe and protected whilst at work.

Rio Tinto CEO Stausholm stated that:

“I am determined that […] we will make positive and lasting change and strengthen our workplace culture for the long term.”

The employees’ perspective

It is worth noting the high levels of confidence amongst employees that a significant impact could occur in the next two years. This sign of change is much needed and encouraging. The penny has dropped and now there is realisation that the ‘culture of mining’ must change.

A strong desire for transformational change was noted, including making positive contributions to the societal shifts that are so desperately needed in the mining industry.

The penny has dropped and now there is realisation that the ‘culture of mining’ must change.

Becoming champions of change

There is clear recognition that new approaches are needed to solve these issues. A new radical way of thinking is required. There must be a proactive risk-management approach taken to assist the shift.

Providing training and education to the workforce is key. There must be an authentic and preventative strategy, sufficient training and induction must be provided and must incorporate bullying and harassment prevention, consultation must take place, questions must be asked about the ‘why’, there must be safe and effective reporting processes put in place. Leaders must be on board and be ‘champions of change’.

If there is to be a real change, it is critical that a plan be devised on exactly how your organisation is to move forward.


This is where we at SmartCulture are able to step in and assist you and your organisation. We have developed a premium masterclass for senior leaders and board members, specifically developed for the Mining Industry by our founder and WHS + culture industry expert, Karen Maher. We would love to help transform your organisation and culture with our impactful and leading edge prevention training program.

We must all be champions of change.

Natalie Rouillon-Thomas

21 February 2022