We are taking important steps to grow our Indigenous leadership, helping us better understand and work with host communities in the future. By having strong Indigenous leaders in place, we can ensure Indigenous voices are heard on cultural heritage matters and broader issues – right across our business.
In Australia, we have committed $50 million over five years to attract, retain and grow Indigenous leaders, and we have increased the number of Australian Indigenous leaders in our business fivefold since November 2020. We have also identified further candidates for future opportunities through a targeted Indigenous talent management and selection program.
Supporting students to achieve their potential
For more than a decade we have partnered with Indspire, an Indigenous national charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Indspire provides financial awards, delivers programs and shares resources so that Indigenous students achieve their highest potential.
In 2021, we renewed our partnership with the Breakfast Club of Canada with C$750,000 over three years to provide nutritious meals to over 4,000 students in 18 Indigenous schools in British Columbia and Quebec.
We also established an institutional research structure dedicated to the indigenisation of higher education through a C$1.5 million partnership with Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi. The structure will be established in collaboration with several Indigenous communities and will focus, among other things, on training the next generation of Indigenous scientists.
Indigenous development programs – Australia
Indigenous Leadership Development Program
This program supports our Indigenous employees to accelerate the transition to higher roles within our business and bridge any development gaps.
It is available for people either leading teams or pursuing a more technical discipline and is tailored to suit each person’s specific career aspirations. The program can include access to one of our university partnerships to fast-track tailored learning to help employees secure qualifications for their next role, or placement in another role or operation to develop core business and leadership skills.
We’re proud to have partnered with the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to deliver the RioInspire program which is a first of its kind, blending Indigenous knowledge and practices with best-practice leadership research. It's a globally recognised framework that focuses on developing executive-ready Indigenous future leaders who will have an influential role in shaping the future not only our business and Indigenous Australia, but all Australia.
This partnership has enabled us to develop a program specifically for Rio Tinto Indigenous leaders. It incorporates Rio Tinto’s ways of working, including our values and business priorities. Upon completion, participants receive an AGSM Certificate of Executive Management Development.
Two-way mentoring program
One of the key findings of the recent Board review into cultural heritage management highlighted our need to transform our work culture to better reflect our values.
Our two-way mentoring program presents an important opportunity for our senior leaders in Australia to offer career advice to our Indigenous talent, while gaining a better understanding of some of the challenges faced by our Indigenous employees. The program is helping build a culture of understanding across our organisation and foster connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees.
In 2021, 76 Indigenous employees paired with senior leaders participated in our two-way mentoring program across our Australia-based business to deepen cross-cultural understanding and responsiveness.
We also launched our Australia-wide Indigenous employee networking program in 2021, supporting positive relationship building opportunities and a sense of belonging.
Coaching is one of the most powerful developmental tools to build skills and evolve behaviours. It is completely personalised and focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change in a way that is tailored to an individual.
All Indigenous employees in Australia have the opportunity to work with an experienced coach from the Leadership Success organisation. Coaches help participants to focus attention on the things that matter most and give them practical support, provide tools related to their individual goals and challenges, and guide them in how they can apply these on the job.
Graduate and vacation student programs
It is part of our strategy to accelerate opportunities for Indigenous professionals, providing them mentoring and opportunities for career growth. We work closely with the Graduate Talent at Rio Tinto to attract and recruit Indigenous talent for Graduate and Vacation Student Programs. Graduates and vacation students will be placed at a variety of locations across our Australian operations and hubs, including the Pilbara, Perth, Brisbane, Yarwun and Weipa.