Damning Rio Tinto Report Finds Company Rife with Sexism, Racism

A damning internal report into mining giant Rio Tinto’s workplace culture has found disturbing patterns of sexism, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and racism in its company. 

The 85-page report was publicly published Tuesday by Rio Tinto. It pointed to a culture that normalized harmful behaviors. It also puts a spotlight on the industry as a whole, which has long been accused of tolerating, normalizing, and even condoning inappropriate and harmful behavior. 

Last year, Rio Tinto commissioned an external review following months of scrutiny over how workers were being treated in its global workforce of 47,500. The investigation was overseen by Australia’s former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick and focused on the experiences of workers over the past five years. 

The report said that bullying and sexism were “systemic” across worksites globally. Approximately half of the workforce is experiencing bullying. 

Almost a third of all women said that they had experienced sexual harassment while at work. 

Rape and sexual assault were also found, with 21 women reporting that they had been the victims of completed or attempted rape and sexual assault. 

Racism was found to be a commonality in several areas. People who worked in a country that was different from the one they were born in, experienced high rates of racism. In Australia, Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders faced extremely high rates of racism, at nearly 40 percent of men and 32 percent of women. 

Investors are demanding the industry as a whole cleans up its act. Investors said that they want to see the normalization of a zero-tolerance approach to sexual assault, bullying, and discrimination, not a normalization of the harassment. 

The Mining and Energy Union’s Western Australia state secretary Greg Busson said that the issue is not only on the shoulders of Rio Tinto, but is an industry problem as a whole, and even broader, a societal problem. 

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