Engaging with our stakeholders

Building and maintaining strong relationships with our stakeholders is core to our business success. We consider anyone who has an interest in our activities to be a stakeholder. Our stakeholders include people who are affected by our decisions (such as local community members) as well as people who influence our decisions (for example governments).

The nature of our business means we often operate and conduct our business in complex and challenging geographies and markets. This makes it even more important for us to be credible and listen to our stakeholders’ views.

Our approach

Throughout project planning, development, operation and closure, we identify our stakeholders, and strive to understand their concerns and interests. We spend time sharing and explaining information about our activities. All these actions help us to improve our decision-making.

We engage with our stakeholders to identify opportunities for mutual value and to help us manage risks. For example, we:

  • develop strong and lasting relationships with our local communities, working on issues such as employment and cultural heritage
  • engage with governments on policy and legislation and to develop education and training programmes
  • discuss our approach to business and sustainable development with our investors
  • partner with non-government organisations on environmental, health and human rights issues

We engage ethically, honestly and constructively with all our stakeholders. We seek to understand their points of view so that we can adapt to changing expectations and generate long-term value for our shareholders.

Our stakeholders

Mining is a heavily regulated industry and our operations are directly affected by government legislation and policy, which is constantly evolving. To understand government views and aims, as well as to present our views to government on relevant legislation, policy and issues, we strive to develop constructive relationships and maintain regular dialogue with national, regional and local governments in all countries where we operate.

In dealing with governments, we conduct ourselves according to high ethical standards. We do not, directly or indirectly, participate in party politics, nor make payments to political parties or individual politicians. We provide useful and accurate information and share our experience to help governments develop sound and appropriate policy and legislation. For example, we have been proactively and constructively engaging with EU institutions and government officials on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme Regulation in order to understand and address the scheme’s impact on our assets and spur European industry competitiveness.

We also engage actively with civil society organisations where common interests and concerns exist, whether these are broad issues of policy with a global or national reach, or local issues that affect smaller communities around our operations.

Our approach to engaging with civil society reflects the risks identified. In key risk areas, we develop deeper and targeted relationships and programmes with selected civil society organisations that have common interests and are willing to engage with us. These include environmental NGOs such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature, BirdLife International and Fauna & Flora International. We also support academic institutions such as the Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee and the African Leadership Institute’s Archbishop Tutu Fellowship Programme.

We participate in a number of voluntary initiatives which provide platforms to engage directly with a variety of stakeholders on issues of common interest. We are active in the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) with one employee on the EITI board and several employees engaged in multi-stakeholder groups at the national level in countries like Mongolia and the US. We are a member of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and are active in the Australian and UK UNGC networks. Some of these initiatives have grievance mechanisms which encourage dialogue between participants and stakeholders on critical issues. In 2015 we received a complaint from a stakeholder via the UNGC integrity measures raising concerns of possible breaches of UNGC principles 3 and 6 regarding freedom of association and elimination of discrimination in respect of employment. We are engaging constructively with the UNGC process and have responded promptly to the issues raised.

We strive to build enduring relationships with communities where we operate to make sure we manage our operations in a way that is consistent with community expectations. Read more about our engagement with communities in the Social section.

Building capacity

Stakeholder engagement is core to the role of many of our employees. Enhancing our skills in stakeholder engagement is crucial to addressing the challenges we face in delivering growth and sustaining our social licence to operate. In 2011, we created our Stakeholder Engagement Academy, to help our people develop their capabilities in stakeholder engagement. It provides learning and development courses and resources for frontline project managers, leaders and stakeholder engagement professionals around the business. Both external academic providers and Rio Tinto practitioners are involved in delivering the courses. In total we have delivered 30 courses in 12 countries, with 841 employees having completed the course. We also have an online knowledge base available for all employees.