Thursday, 3 February 2022
Everyone deserves to be safe from discrimination, harassment and assault in the workplace, as in all settings in daily life. As such, the revelations in Elizabeth Broderick’s report on workplace culture at Rio Tinto are deeply disturbing and confronting. It should serve as the strongest clarion call yet to all employers that such conduct and a toxic organisational culture cannot be tolerated.
Aware Super Chief Executive Officer Deanne Stewart said: “Right now, our immediate concern is for the welfare of all those affected by the conduct the report has identified.
“I want to acknowledge the courage and resilience it must have taken for those individual employees to own and share their experiences through this review, and it is our strongest hope that their contribution is honoured through an appropriate healing process.
“As a major Australian institutional investor, we acknowledge and support Rio Tinto for commissioning the review of its own accord, and for its transparency in publishing the report in full.
“Identifying and acknowledging these issues is of course a critical step towards addressing them, and the engagement of major investors on ESG issues has been one of the catalysts for companies to start fully appreciating the importance of workplace culture.
“From an investment perspective, we know misconduct and a toxic culture have a corrosive effect on companies, undermining their long-term performance.
“The fact the management and Board of a major Australian-listed company has undertaken a review of this nature off its own bat, has published the findings of that review, and committed to its recommendations, is a great demonstration of the importance of engagement between investors and company management.
“We encourage other miners, and Australian companies more broadly, to take inspiration from the steps Rio Tinto has taken – not to fear the outcomes of good governance, but to recognise its importance in modern corporate Australia.
“The test for Rio Tinto now will be how quickly and assiduously it acts on the problems identified in the report and succeeds in delivering genuine cultural change.
“We’ll continue to engage with the company, and we’ll be meeting with management soon to discuss their personal response to the findings in the report, the initiatives to be implemented, any accountability required and our concerns around gender and cultural diversity among other issues.
“As a responsible owner, our approach to the companies we invest in is always to engage with them to bring about positive and lasting change.”