WA parliamentary inquiry into sexual harassment and FIFO operations, and company responses
09/05/2022
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The fly-in fly-out (FIFO) mining industry has been under a microscope since the Australian Human Rights Commission reported its findings on Sexual Harassment (see HERE).  The report found that the “masculine workplace culture” and “the overrepresentation of men in senior leadership roles” within the mining industry is a high-risk workplace setting for sexual harassment against women with 74 per cent of women in the FIFO mining industry having experienced sexual harassment. The problem is not limited to women in the workplace but also includes men.

A parliamentary inquiry was subsequently announced in WA, with some of the larger resources companies (BHP, Rio Tinto and Woodside) making submissions describing their experiences, policy and further action to improve the workplace environment for women.

BHP’s submission announced an intention to tie executive remuneration to the prevention in sexual harassment and provide $300m to camp facilities and security (see HERE).

Rio Tinto’s submission was a dedication to improving the education of the company regarding sexual harassment through a health-and-safety lens; by assessing what happens, how it happens and how often (see HERE).

Woodside’s submission was a similar dedication to the education of employees regarding their Code of Conduct expected on sites, and the welcoming of future strengthening of regulatory and legislative instruments regarding workplace sexual harassment or discrimination (see HERE).

BHP and Rio Tinto highlighted the issue in their annual reports noting reductions to KMP executive annual incentives. Rio Tinto have also released an independently commissioned report that also identified racism issues (the Broderick report – see HERE). Woodside have also released its annual report. Executive STI scorecards included an above target result for “culture and reputation” which includes bullying and harassment.

Industry responses to the inquiry so far have included:

  • Mandatory reporting of incidents of sexual harassment or disrespectful behaviour.
  • Establishing a body to investigate reports of serious misconduct.
  • The inclusion of sexual harassment preventative measures into incentive executive performance scorecards.
  • Recruitment checks to ensure there is no hiring of people who have been accused of or have had employment terminated for misconduct relating to sexual harassment (and other breaches of company code).
  • Provisions regarding alcohol consumption onsite.

The WA Parliamentary Inquiry had scheduled the tabling of its findings on the 28th of April 2022. It has since been delayed, with a new tabling date of the 23rd of June 2022.

Listed companies with FIFO operations will want to consider this report and its implications for operations, culture, remuneration and annual disclosures.

© Guerdon Associates 2022
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