element-2-governance-and-oversight

Day-to-day responsibility of the Human Rights Program is vested within the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) under Barrick’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel. In addition, the General Counsel maintains a direct reporting line to relevant committees of the Board of Directors on compliance-related issues, including human rights and investigations. The General Counsel also oversees our anti-corruption program and maintains authority over other international regulatory requirements at the company, helping create efficiencies with the human rights program.

We believe that vesting the Program in the OGC is consistent with the UN Guiding Principles and how we view human rights. Guiding Principle 23(c) states that companies should, “Treat the risk of causing or contributing to gross human rights abuses as a legal compliance issue wherever they operate.”  As we interpret it, that means we should consider human rights norms to reflect a set of international legal obligations, to be followed in the same way as with other international and local regulatory requirements. 

Putting it into practice

The Corporate Responsibility Committee of the Board of Directors, composed of four independent Board members, is charged with overseeing our human rights program. The Committee receives a quarterly update on salient human rights risks, key issues, trends and projects.  These may include significant allegations of human rights violations, transparency and reporting efforts, investigations, remediation efforts, human rights assessment findings and outcomes, and collective action projects.  For instance, in 2016, quarterly presentations to the Committee included our approach to human rights issues at joint ventures, how we are adjusting our human rights reporting to satisfy the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Initiative, the results of our human rights assessments, and details regarding an independent report on the remedy framework at the Porgera Joint Venture.

As the program is primarily implemented on a local basis, accountability rests largely with our country leaders.  Country legal heads are expected to provide local guidance, oversight and implementation of the program in their respective jurisdictions.  At the same time, we undertake a risk-tiered approach, placing emphasis and resources on those locations and functions where human rights risks are most acute.  

Critical to embedding human rights awareness across our operations is senior management visibly emphasizing the core principles covered by the program.  This helps underscore the importance of the program, promotes acceptance, and helps create a culture where employees strive to meet and not evade the requirements of the program.  Indeed, while we have a robust training program (elaborated in Core Element #4 – Training & Advice), it is not possible to provide training on every potential situation that may arise. A culture of compliance helps employees abide by the values governing the program, and interpret events consistent with it.

There are several ways that we seek to achieve leadership from the top for the Program, including:

Executive Leadership.  Our Human Rights Policy and Code of Business Conduct and Ethics were approved by our Board of Directors, demonstrating the significance of these programs to the company.  Executive management seeks to reinforce the importance of respecting human rights by championing the human rights compliance program and ethical behavior more generally through different avenues, such as executive addresses, town halls, and global emails. 

Business Plan Reviews.  We also have a Business Plan Review (BPR) meeting every week, a reporting session that includes senior leaders of corporate functional units and sites. The BPRs are overseen by Barrick’s President and the company’s Chief Operating Officer. Once per month, the OGC reports at the BPR on how the human rights program is progressing against its relevant goals and on issues that might prevent the program from achieving its objectives. Each site and advanced project also must report in the BPR on license-to-operate issues, which by definition include the human rights program. The BPRs enhance transparency, reminding all global leaders about key areas of the program, as well as identifying progress, challenges and concerns.

CSR Advisory Board.  In 2012, we established a Corporate Social Responsibility Advisory Board to provide Barrick’s senior executives with external advice and guidance on emerging CSR issues and trends, as well as feedback on our performance. The Advisory Board includes highly respected figures from different disciplines: Aron Cramer, Robert Fowler, and Gare Smith, with John Ruggie serving as a special consultant. Chaired by Barrick’s President, the board convenes twice per year, and as part of its mandate it receives updates on issues related to human rights matters at Barrick.

Executive Compensation.  We tie aspects of the program to executive compensation, as reflected in our 2016 and 2017 Information Circulars.  We also tie it to our global bonus scorecard, which can impact employees across the company; in 2017, the bonus scorecard includes key performance indicators related to messaging, employee onboarding, vendor due diligence and implementation of the VPs.

Frequent Messaging.  There is frequent internal messaging regarding the values associated with the program and compliance with the program itself through company newsletters, in dedicated human rights posters that have been posted at all sites and projects, in flyers and handouts related to the program, via our social media channels, and through other means.

As with other areas of our program, we are continuing to think about ways to improve its governance and oversight. One area we are working on is how to improve our influence over, and visibility into, entities in which we own an interest, but do not control. Another area we are considering is whether to add additional personnel to help implement the program. For 2017, we also are making slight adjustments to our presentations to the Corporate Responsibility Committee of the Board, to allow for more organized and in-depth reports.

How do we operationalize human rights?
We consider our human rights program as a form of governance. Specifically, we believe that every functional unit, office, and site plays a role in our respecting human rights. Under our program, the OGC has worked with relevant internal groups and local operating units to help them consider international human rights norms in their conduct, and in developing policies, procedures and management systems. In this way, we try to operationalize human rights in ways most relevant to each area of the business, and maximize the manner in which human rights are integrated into our daily practices. 

How does Barrick address human rights at joint ventures and entities it does not control?
Like other companies in our sector, we have entered into joint ventures and other arrangements in which we may hold a significant ownership interest, but where our mines are operated by independent entities and third parties.  While our human rights program does not formally extend to those sites and operations, we attempt to influence management action through contractual rights and Board membership.  That may be through conducting or advocating for audits and assessments, pressing for compensation structures to reflect human rights goals, seeking reports on incidents, engaging over aspects of their human rights programs, seeking regular progress updates, asking for details on training and stakeholder engagements, and through other efforts.

In addition, in early 2017, we conducted assessments on Human Rights and on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights at Jabal Sayid, a site in Saudi Arabia in which Barrick owns 50% with Ma'aden, a Saudi Arabian mining company.  Likewise, at Porgera, in 2017, we pressed for reports from the site and police in response to a police operation to evict squatters from temporary shelters, including advocating for a formal police report.

 

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Gold  $ 1,257.65 +6.28 +0.5% Volume: June 23, 2017
ABX NYSE  $ 16.48 +0.39 +2.42% Volume: 10,558,963 June 23, 2017
ABX TSX  $ 21.86 +0.58 +2.73% Volume: 1,933,033 June 23, 2017
Gold  $ 1,257.65 +6.28 +0.5% Volume: June 23, 2017

Our vision is the generation of wealth through responsible mining — wealth for our owners, our people, and the countries and communities with which we partner.

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