Hide Message

Updating the Resource Centre Digital Platform

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is at a critical point in its development. Our digital platform is home to a wealth of information on business and human rights, but hasn’t had a visual refresh for a number of years.

We will soon be updating the site to improve its usability and better serve the thousands of people that use our site to support their work.

Please take an advance peek at our new look, and let us know what you think!

Thank you,
Alex Guy, Digital Officer

Find Out More Hide Message

Latest news & stories

Responding department: Corporate Affairs

Stock exchange symbol: (BHPCD:AU)

Does your company have a publicly available commitment to respect human rights?

The BHP Billiton Charter articulates the Company’s values of Sustainability, Integrity, Respect, Performance, Simplicity and Accountability. These values guide behaviour, inform decision-making and are integral to long-term success.

BHP Billiton’s commitment to human rights is outlined in the “BHP Billiton Code of Business Conduct”, a document which represents the company’s commitment to upholding ethical business practices. The Code of Business Conduct applies to every employee, suppliers and contractors, and business partners working with or for BHP Billiton.

Underpinned by the Charter values, the Code of Business Conduct makes it clear that commercial objectives can never compromise our commitment to working with integrity.

Embedding the requirements of the Code of Business Conduct across BHP Billiton is the responsibility of every leader. Each area of the Company has the responsibility of completing and executing annual training and communication plans, including face-to-face meetings with all employees and certain contractors

In 2014, a stand-alone section on Human Rights was added to the Code of Business Conduct. The section provides a high level summary of the Company's commitment to Human Rights including a commitment to operate in accordance with the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the UN Global Compact principles.

In addition to the legal requirements of the countries in which we operate, BHP Billiton’s approach to sustainability is defined by its Group Level Documents (GLDs). These clearly describe the mandatory minimum performance requirements and accountabilities across the Group, and are the foundation for developing and implementing management systems at our operations.


BHP Billiton Code of Business Conduct:


Links to additional relevant policies:

Community GLD:


Supply: ’Source to Contract’ GLD:


Security and Emergency Management GLD:


How are human rights governed in your company?

We acknowledge that as an extractive company, our activities have the potential to impact on human rights and we address these through our core business practices. These include labour conditions, activities of security forces, local community programs, the practices of our employees and those acting on our behalf, and any interactions we may have with others.

 The Sustainability Committee of the BHP Billiton Board oversees sustainability related issues for the company including human rights. In addition, the BHP Billiton Board has a responsibility to ensure each investment decision is made in accordance with Our BHP Billiton Charter and in consideration of a range of factors, including the health and safety of our people, our impact on our host communities and the environment, and the potential impact of climate change on our organisation.

(see P41. of the BHP Billiton Sustainability Report - http://www.bhpbilliton.com/home/society/reports/Documents/2014/BHPBillitonSustainabilityReport2014_interactive.pdf)

How are human rights managed within your company?

BHP Billion’s human rights policy commitment is outlined in its Code of Business Conduct and the management system to operationalise its commitment is based on the Company’s Group Level Documents (GLDs). GLDs contain minimum, mandatory performance requirements and Assets are audited for compliance by the Group Risk Assessment and Assurance function on an ongoing basis. Non-compliances are reported to management and action plans implemented to address gaps.

Identification and Management of Human Rights Risks

In relation to specific reference human rights requirements, the Community GLD requires all BHP Billiton operated Assets to identify human rights impacts by performing a stand-alone Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) that considers risk areas relevant to the extractives sector including but not limited to: community development;  community engagement and consultation; community health, safety and wellbeing; cultural heritage; diversity and non-discrimination; forced and child labour; freedom of association and collective bargaining; gender impacts of mining; Indigenous relations; land access; security and law enforcement agencies; workplace health and safety.

The HRIAs must be verified with stakeholders every three years and reviewed and updated by the Asset annually (or more frequently if there are changes that may affect the impact profile). If the Asset is in a country where the Maplecroft Human Rights Risk Index is less than 5.0, the HRIA must be validated every three years with a qualified human rights specialist.

If a material risk is identified in the human rights impact, a human rights management plan (including training of employees and contractors) must be implemented and reviewed annually.

Material risks are managed using a Group-wide risk management process.

Business Partners – Supply Chain

BHP Billiton understands its responsibility to ensure it only engages with suppliers that have responsible and ethical business practices. The Company aims to build long-term partnerships that provide sustainable benefits for partner suppliers, its business and for the communities in which it operates. These relationships are managed in accordance with relevant contractual arrangements, Our Charter, our Code of Business Conduct, the Anti-corruption GLD and relevant health, safety, environment and community (HSEC) GLDs.

To identify sustainability risks across the supply chain, a risk-based approach is used within the Supply ‘Source to Contract’ GLD to support suppliers’ alignment with our HSEC and business conduct requirements. These requirements include zero tolerance of a number of human rights infringements, including child labour, inhumane treatment of employees and forced or compulsory labour. Suppliers are also required to adopt an open attitude towards legitimate activities of trade unions.

Contracted suppliers are assessed on a matrix for commercial dependency versus supplier risk and assigned a tiered segmentation. A procedure to engage with each supplier is developed appropriate to the level of risk. During FY2014, facility visits were conducted at most critical global suppliers to assess compliance with our HSEC, zero tolerance and business conduct requirements. In addition, minimum supplier performance evaluation plans are implemented and monitored on a regular basis.

Security Providers

Across the Group, our operations conduct a gap analysis against the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) annually, using the VP Implementation Guidance Tool. They then implement an improvement plan to close identified gaps.

Private security companies engaged by BHP Billiton are required to be signatories to, or agree in writing to comply with, the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers. In addition, BHP Billiton notifies security providers in writing of its commitment to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human rights including the requirement for private security providers (or request for public security providers) to operate consistently with the VPSHR.

The internal Group Risk Register is reviewed regularly to assess any changes that have the potential to introduce a higher risk to the Company than what was previously assessed. The Company actively monitors its controls and actions for supply chain risks. During FY2014, 21 suppliers were removed from the tier one supply chain due to HSEC and Code of Business Conduct issues.


All employees and key contractors are trained annually on the company's Code of Business Conduct, which contains the company's commitments and expectations in relation to human rights.

Specific human rights training is undertaken on a risk basis. For example, where material risks are identified in human rights impact assessments, relevant training is required as a component of a management plan to mitigate the risk and employees and contractors who engage with Indigenous People from the host community are required to undertaken cultural awareness and competency training which has been developed and delivered in consultation with Indigenous groups.

Effectiveness of Actions

Monitoring individual complaints and analysing trends is one way we can measure effectiveness of our actions. In addition, we review the data from Ethicspoint, which is our anonymous business ethics advisory service.

We also measure effectiveness through ongoing engagement with key stakeholders; community perception surveys, which help measure progress against our local level community engagement management plans; and employee surveys are undertaken on a regular basis.

In addition, if risks are classified as being material (in accordance with BHP Billiton’s risk matrix), the design and effectiveness of risk controls (or actions) are assessed on a regular basis and documented in an enterprise wide system.

Community GLD (http://www.bhpbilliton.com/home/aboutus/ourcompany/Documents/2014/141031_GLD_Community.pdf)

What is the company’s approach to the engagement of stakeholders (including workers, and local communities impacted by the company’s activities), on human rights issues?

At a corporate level, we engage with our Forum on Corporate Responsibility in relation to sustainability related policy, including Indigenous and Human Rights and specific sustainability issues as they arise. The Forum is a key component of our stakeholder engagement program and comprises nine highly respected civil society leaders, some members of our Group Management Committee, and representatives from our Group Health, Safety and Environment and Group Corporate Affairs functions. The Forum is chaired by our Chief Executive Officer.

At the local level, we engage with stakeholders on the identification of potential impacts during the human rights impact assessment process which is undertaken with cross-disciplinary teams within the business and then is verified with key external stakeholders.

A range of human rights issues are covered in various engagement activities we undertake with different stakeholder groups. Our community engagement in local communities would focus on specific issues relevant to the local context such as security, health and environment.

Suppliers and contractors are engaged in relation to our Zero Tolerance Requirements which include of a number of human rights areas, including child labour, inhumane treatment of employees and forced or compulsory labour. Our suppliers are also required to adopt an open attitude towards legitimate activities of trade unions.

Our operations are required to identify security-related material risks to people and property and to engage relevant stakeholders to develop and manage security programs that respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Priority human rights issues: What are some of the priority human rights issues for your company?

The company selected the following from a check list:

  • Health (including workplace health & safety, prevention of pollution)
  • Workplace diversity / non-discrimination
  • Forced labour and human trafficking (including in supply chains)
  • Sexual harassment
    Freedom of association and trade union rights
  • Displacement and community relocation
  • Housing
  • Access to water
  • Freedom of expression and/or right to privacy / digital rights
  • Operations in conflict zones
  • Relations with security forces
  • Transparency in payments to governments / responsible tax practices
  • Product misuse
  • Women
  • Children (including child labour)
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Racial and ethnic minorities

How are human rights commitments and information about how the company addresses its human rights impacts communicated, internally and externally?

BHP Billiton’s commitment to human rights is communicated in its Code of Business Conduct which is publicly available. The BHP Billiton Annual Report and Sustainability Report also reference our approach to human rights.

In FY2014, BHP Billiton's Sustainability Report will be prepared in accordance with G4 in FY2014. It has previously reported to the G3 Guidelines. The Sustainability Report is externally assured by KPMG. The Report contains a section specifically on Human Rights

Many of our Assets also produce publications for their local communities as one of their many engagement activities. Internally, communication methods include case studies and stories on our internal Portal and Toolbox Talks which occur prior to shifts at our Assets.

The process to undertake a gap analysis against the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights also provides an opportunity to further build awareness and understanding of the VPs across the Company. For example at our Zamzama gas project in Pakistan, we work closely with the local community in relation to our security arrangements, ensuring the VPs are upheld in a challenging environment.

Formalised procedures exist to avoid the occurrence of security-related incidents with possible human rights implications. Should they occur, all significant incidents are reported to the Group Management Committee and the Sustainability Committee of the Board, including detail of action taken to prevent recurrence. Where incidents are of a criminal nature, they are reported to local authorities for appropriate action.

BHP Billiton Annual Report 2014

BHP Billiton Sustainability Report

What provisions does your company have in place to ensure that grievances from workers and affected communities or individuals are heard, and can you provide examples of remedies provided?

All BHP Billiton operated assets are required to implement a local level complaints and grievance mechanism. The mechanism should be scaled to the country context, risks and adverse impacts; use an understandable and transparent process; be culturally appropriate; be readily accessible to all segments of the affected host communities; be available without retribution; and must not impede access to judicial or administrative remedies.

As part of the process, our teams are required to acknowledge, investigate and document all complaints and grievances about the performance or behaviour of employees or contractors; undertake appropriate remedial actions where a complaint is legitimate; and advise complainants of the remedial action promptly and document outcomes.

The design and effectiveness of this control is audited on a regular basis.

In addition the company has an anonymous, 24-hour Business Conduct Advisory Service which is available to employees and external stakeholders.

Which external and collaborative human rights initiatives does your company participate in, and what is the nature of your involvement?

BHP Billiton is an active member of the international Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and the UN Global Compact (international and Australian network); it participates in the Annual Plenary Meeting of the Voluntary Principles Initiative and has been a supporter of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) since its inception in 2002. The company y is currently represented on the Board of the EITI.

Which are the key one, two or three elements of your approach to human rights that been developed or amended since June 2011? Please indicate if these actions were in response to the UN Guiding Principles.

Due diligence and complaints and grievance mechanisms were incorporated into BHP Billiton’s standards prior to June 2011 however the company did not have a consolidated policy statement that outlined it human rights commitment. In 2014, the inclusion of a specific section on Human Rights in the company's Code of Business Conduct addressed this gap.

What are some of the obstacles and challenges that your company encounters in implementing its human rights commitments?

The Company has not experienced any major barriers to implementing its human rights commitments however challenges experienced in implementation include the cross-functional nature of human rights and ensuring the language used when discussing human rights is accessible and relevant to all levels of the workforce.