workplace culture in the Australian mining sector


In early 2022, Rio Tinto released its Everyday Respect (pdf) report which highlighted distressing instances of sexual harassment, racism and other forms of discrimination. We believed that the cultural issues identified within the Everyday Respect report were unlikely to be unique to Rio Tinto, but rather indicative of broader cultural issues within the Australian mining sector. This represents a systemic risk impacting our members’ investments.

Our concerns regarding the broader systemic nature of risks associated with these industry-wide cultural issues led us to undertake engagement with 19 Australian mining companies held within the HESTA portfolio. The focus of the engagement was on the topic of workplace culture, and specifically workplace sexual harassment. 


Why workplace culture is important to HESTA members

As almost 80% of HESTA members are women, championing gender equality and diversity are important to help our members achieve a better retirement. At the economic level, workplace sexual harassment contributes to women’s underrepresentation in the workforce and in leadership 1. Gender based violence in any form, including workplace sexual harassment, is a violation of human rights and a barrier to women achieving equal opportunity and access to safe and secure work.


The impact of poor workplace culture on member returns

Workplace sexual harassment can create legal and financial risks, impact employee wellbeing and productivity and significantly damage a company’s reputation and social licence to operate.

Company, sector and system level risks are present when culture is not prioritised, having the potential to negatively impact investment returns and, therefore, the retirement savings of HESTA members.

Given HESTA’s AUD$3 billion investment in the Australian mining sector, we believe it is important to understand the nature and prevalence of these risks, and how the management and boards of our portfolio companies are managing culture, and in doing so, preserving and enhancing company value.



HESTA Engagement and Insights Report

HESTA strongly encourages all companies to dedicate further resources and expertise to addressing workplace culture to foster a safe, secure and equitable workplace for people of all genders.

Read the HESTA Engagement and Insights report, which provides key insights into the engagement series and signals our intent to continue the conversation on these important issues.


Download the report (pdf)





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