Mining giant Rio Tinto has revealed that 21 women reported experiencing rape, attempted rape or sexual assault as part of the “disturbing” findings of a review of its workplace culture.
The review found bullying, sexual harassment, racism and other forms of discrimination throughout the Anglo-Australian company, which employs more than 45,000 people across 35 countries and is a member of the FTSE 100.
Chief executive Jakob Stausholm apologised “to every team member, past or present, who has suffered as a result of these behaviours”.
Rio Tinto said it would implement all 26 detailed recommendations from the report, including a commitment from management to “create safe, respectful and inclusive working environments” and increase diversity and making it easier to complain about unacceptable behaviour.
The eight-month study heard from more than 10,000 employees, of whom more than half said they had experienced bullying in the last five years.
It found 28.2% of women and 6.7% of men had experienced sexual harassment at work over that period.
The company said 21 women reported actual or attempted rape or sexual assault during that time.
Racism was “common across a number of areas”, particularly among those working outside their home countries.
The report said that 39.8% of men and 31.8% of women who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait islanders in Australia experienced racism.
Employees in South Africa experienced the highest rates of racism overall.
‘Women eating alone to avoid harassment’
It said women “described some of their colleagues or managers making sexual advances and/or sexually explicit comments to them”.
Women at “fly in fly out” sites in remote areas “spoke of eating alone in their room to avoid harassment in the dining hall and the gym; of avoiding being out after dark; of bad lighting and poor security”, the report found.
There was also “harassing and even threatening behaviour from male colleagues when they were walking to their accommodation after work”.
Mr Stausholm said: “The findings of this report are deeply disturbing.
“I offer my heartfelt apology to every team member, past or present, who has suffered as a result of these behaviours.
‘Shame and enormous regret’
“This is not the kind of company we want to be.
“I feel shame and enormous regret to have learned the extent to which bullying, sexual harassment and racism are happening at Rio Tinto.
“I am determined that by implementing appropriate actions to address the recommendations… we will make positive and lasting change.”
The report was carried out by Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s former sex discrimination commissioner.
It was launched following the appointment of Mr Stausholm as chief executive at the start of last year.
He took over after a widespread backlash against the company for the destruction of the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge rock shelters in Australia to expand an iron ore mine.