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Human Rights

As a fundamental operating principle, we strive to respect human rights wherever we do business, and recognize the equality and dignity of the people with whom we interact every day. Respect for our people, local community members, and local governments is part of our core values, which guide us in all we do.

2018 Human Rights Report

Carrying out that respect every day, in every situation, everywhere we operate, poses challenges for a global company like ours.  We have interests in mining operations on five continents, employ more than 10,000 workers, have some 12,000 contractors, and work with some 10,000 vendors each year.  Our mines operate in highly diverse social, economic and political environments, including locations where human rights may not be fully recognized or protected.  Each location has a different cultural context, faces different risks of negative human rights impacts, and encounters different expectations from their respective host communities, governments, and key stakeholders.

Barrick’s human rights compliance program is designed to help embed ethical behavior and a respect for our people and partners throughout our diverse operations. On a philosophical level, the compliance program is not a risk mitigation effort for the company; rather, it is a reflection of the company’s values and an outgrowth of our commitment to respect human rights and avoid negative human rights impacts.

Human Rights Training

Approximately 7,350 of our people received human rights training in some format in 2017, including all Security personnel and contractors, and all Community Relations personnel. In total, this included more than 8,000 hours of human rights training across the Company.

We know that no program can eliminate all negative impacts that we may cause, contribute to, or be linked to through our operations. We believe, however, that through a logical and embedded program, we can mitigate those risks, and provide appropriate remedies when breaches take place.

We have defined five core principles that underpin our human rights compliance program and six systematic elements that help us implement the program effectively. The compliance program, in turn, assists us in preventing or mitigating risks to rights-holders in six salient risk areas.

Core Principles of Barrick’s Human Rights Program

Through the five principles of the human rights compliance program, we strive to meet the responsibilities identified for companies in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), and maintain a structure that puts our human rights aspirations into practice. 

We accept, as we must, that even with the program, we still may cause, contribute to, or be directly linked to negative human rights impacts.  Nor will the program always provide ready solutions to the dilemmas and challenges that we continually face.  What the program does is compel us to take a coherent and holistic approach, driven by clear guidelines and requirements, with the necessary tools to operationalize it across our organization. And when we get this right, we move closer to fulfilling the simple commitment we set for ourselves: to respect human rights wherever we do business and to recognize the equality and dignity of the people with whom we interact every day.

The Five Core Principles of the Human Rights Compliance Program

Principle 1
Grounded in Global Standards
Our human rights program is grounded in international human rights norms, including the International Bill of Human Rights and the eight core conventions of the International Labour Organization, and guided by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the 10 Principles of the UN Global Compact, and similar standards.  Internally, we treat human rights norms as obligatory and non-optional, like the laws we are subject to, wherever we operate.  We believe that only through a globally integrated human rights compliance program can we meet our responsibility to respect the human rights of all our stakeholders.

Principle in practice: As a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), we are committed to conducting business in accordance with the ICMM’s Sustainable Development Principles, which include a commitment to upholding fundamental human rights and respecting culture, customs, and values in dealing with our people and others affected by our activities.

Principle 2
Leadership from the Top
We believe that every person in every functional unit plays a role in respecting the human rights of our people, contractors, and community members. At the same time, leadership from the top is essential to the program’s success, including emphasizing the importance of the Program and the values that underlie it, and reflecting those values in practice.

Principle in practice: The Board of Directors approved our Human Rights Policy and Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.  The Corporate Responsibility Committee of the Board oversees our Human Rights Program, receiving quarterly briefings.  Executive Management seeks to reinforce the importance of respecting human rights by championing the Program and ethical behavior more generally, and there is frequent internal messaging regarding the values associated with the program, including through our weekly global Business Program Review (BPR) meetings.  In 2012, we also established a Corporate Social Responsibility Advisory Board to provide Barrick’s senior executives with external advice and guidance, and we tie human rights to executive compensation and our global bonus scorecard.

Principle 3
Embedded Throughout the Organization
Respecting human rights is a shared global responsibility.  We have worked hard to integrate human rights considerations into Barrick’s values, governance frameworks and the corporate management systems of different functional units.  From Supply Chain and Human Resources to Security and Community Relations, when human rights elements are entrenched within day-to-day job performance to the point that they are indistinguishable from other aspects of work activities, they are truly operationalized and sustainable.

Principle in practice: In our hiring practices and vendor onboarding, we have embedded pre-screening questions for prospective Barrick people and vendors, essentially treating human rights concerns as a basic qualification.  Our security procedures related to use of force, investigations, and detention, our environmental procedures related to water and pollution, and our safety procedures related to occupational health have been reviewed to account for potential human rights risks and impacts. One major improvement has also been strengthening of grievance mechanisms to include a category of human rights, greater responsiveness, corporate accountability, and analysis of trends result in procedural changes. We are seeking to enhance our baseline due diligence, including specifically in relation to slave and forced labor, through a new compliance technology platform that will provide improved screening approaches.

Principle 4
Shared Learnings
To improve our own practices and to advance business respect for human rights, we are committed to sharing our successes, failures, and program features.  We have formed, joined, and led initiatives and working groups focused on dialogue and mutual learning, such as the BSR Human Rights Working Group and the UN Global Compact, actively trying to advance human rights in the business community and offering examples of how it can be done and pitfalls to be avoided.

Principle in practice: Barrick serves on the Steering Committee for the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace Initiative and participates in the Global Compact Human Rights and Labor Working Group, as well as the UN Global Compact Supply Chain and Sustainability Working Group.  In 2013, after recognizing that Canada lacked a local Global Compact network, we helped inaugurate the Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC), and have been on its Board of Directors since that time.  We have led GCNC working groups to create a security and human rights assurance guide, a supply chain sustainability report, a podcast series on the Global Compact’s ten principles, and an e-book on anti-corruption compliance. Most recently, we led a working group sponsored by the Government of Canada to raise awareness of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises for Canadian businesses.  In 2017, to help raise awareness of and identify collective solutions to endemic state and private sector human rights barriers, we sponsored a roundtable in Northern California with Freedom House on improving engagement between companies and human rights defenders, and a conference in Washington, D.C. on remedy in situations of limited leverage.

Principle 5
Partnership and Collaboration
We continue to face human rights dilemmas that defy easy answers.  Addressing them is possible only in partnership and collaboration with our peers, business partners, and other stakeholders.  While we may not always agree with our critics, we are committed to listening to their concerns and learning from their ideas.  Through global multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs), and through our community engagement at the local level, we work to advance respect for human rights both in our own operations and among the broader business community.

Principle in practice: Barrick has played an active role in the VPs, the leading multi-stakeholder initiative for security and human rights, including serving on its Steering Committee (2012-13, 2016-18), and chairing the Corporate Pillar (2013).  In 2012, we volunteered to lead a working group to create a series of key performance indicators that are now followed by a number of companies, including us, in their reporting within the initiative.  More recently, recognizing a lack of uniformity among companies and governments in their security support agreements, we participated in a VPs working group to create model clauses to use in support agreements between companies and governments. We have participated in a wide range of awareness-raising activities, including most recently co-leading a working group with UNICEF to create a checklist and handbook applying the VPs to children's rights.

The Six Systematic Elements of the Human Rights Compliance Program

Barrick’s Human Rights Compliance Program is a systematic global approach to help all our people, contractors, and business partners respect the human rights of all internal and external stakeholders impacted by our operations. We know, of course, that no program can eliminate all negative impacts that we may cause, contribute to, or be linked to through our operations. But we also believe that through a logical and embedded program, we can mitigate those risks, and provide appropriate remedies when breaches take place.

Our Human Rights Compliance Program tries to maintain consistency with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and other international norms. It also attempts to maximize efficiencies with other company compliance programs and activities wherever possible, enabling a coherent company approach composed of a culture of compliance, clear human rights guidelines and requirements, and effective global operationalization.

To meet our objectives, there are six systematic elements that help define the program:

  • Policies and Procedures
  • Governance and Oversight
  • Due Diligence
  • Training and Advice
  • Disciplinary Action and Remedy
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Salient Human Rights Risks

Voluntary Memberships, Codes, Initiatives & Partnerships

Human rights challenges may stem from a variety of different sources, including gaps in regulatory frameworks, lack of enforcement, and actions by state actors.  We believe many of those challenges may not be fully understood, and we have tried to help bridge learnings between a range of actors to better identify solutions.  These include, in 2017, co-sponsoring with the U.S. Council for International Business a conference on right to remedy in situations of limited leverage, co-sponsoring with Freedom House a roundtable on improving engagement between companies and human rights defenders, and leading and co-leading working groups involving the Government of Canada related to children's rights and promoting the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.  In 2018, we are sponsoring with different civil society organizations a four-city discussion series on business engagement in socially responsible public policy debates.


  • UN Global Compact (2005)
  • International Cyanide Management Code for the Manufacture, Transport and Use of Cyanide In the Production of Gold (2005)
  • Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (2006)
  • International Council on Mining & Metals – Sustainable Development Principles (2006)
  • BSR Human Rights Working Group (2012) (founding member)
  • UN Global Compact Human Rights and Labor Working Group (2013)
  • UN Global Compact Supply Chain and Sustainability Working Group (2014)
  • International Code of Conduct Association for Private Security Providers (formal observers, 2015)
  • Transparency International – Canada (2006)

Board / Steering Committee Member

  • Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative (2012-13, 2016)
  • Global Compact Network Canada (2013)
  • UN Global Compact Business for Peace Initiative (2013)
  • ABA Advisory Committee on Human Rights (2015)
  • Expert participant in the Centre for Excellence for Anti-Corruption (2015)
  • External Stakeholder Advisory Board, United States National Contact Point (2015)
  • Business Advisory Counsel, American Society for International Law (2017)

Element 1: Policies and Procedures

Our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and our Human Rights Policy reflect the key requirements of our program, which are buttressed by a range of policies, procedures and standards.


Critical to any effective compliance program is a clear substantive policy and effective implementing documents.  In 2011, we modified our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics to include an explicit commitment to respecting human rights.  Also in 2011, we adopted a stand-alone Human Rights Policy, which contains the philosophical premise behind our human rights approach:  that we will respect the human rights of all stakeholders impacted by our operations. It unequivocally states, “Barrick does not tolerate violations of human rights committed by its employees, its affiliates or any third parties acting on its behalf or related to any aspect of a Barrick operation.”

We regularly review and update the Policy, and solicit feedback on how it can be improved.  In the course of modifying the Code and creating and revising the Policy, we have engaged with a wide range of experts, including the Keenan Ethics Institute, the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Triple R Alliance, our CSR Advisory Board and Professor Ruggie, UN Special Rapporteurs, BSR, and many others.

Barrick does not tolerate violations of human rights committed by its employees, its affiliates, or any third parties acting on its behalf or related to any aspect of a Barrick operation.

The Policy applies to Barrick corporate offices and to every aspect of the mines and projects that Barrick operates, including all our people (on or off duty) and third-party contractors.  It further declares that a human right is one recognized by the International Bill of Human Rights.  It also mandates that we follow the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and we maintain a separate policy specifically dedicated to implementing the Declaration.

Putting it into practice:

While creating policies is important, meeting our commitment is the bigger test. We try to meet that test by embedding human rights considerations into Barrick’s values, governance frameworks, and corporate management systems. From Supply Chain and Human Resources to Security and Community Relations, Barrick considers it our responsibility to respect human rights throughout the business. Indeed, the Policy is supported by and incorporates numerous function-specific policies. These include:  the Supplier Code of Ethics, the Policy with Respect to the Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Security Management System, the Community Relations Management System (CRMS), the Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Policy, the Safety and Health Management System, and the Environmental Management System. The Policy is translated into local relevant language, including Spanish and Russian. We also consider it important to be transparent about our policies, and most are publicly available on our website.


We also try to buttress our Human Rights Policy with a number of dedicated policies, standards, and guidelines. Internally, we place great importance on reporting concerns and investigations.

Likewise, for external stakeholders, securing and maintaining our license to operate depends on our ability to listen actively and be responsive when they raise issues of importance to them.

Putting it into practice

In recent years, a priority in Barrick’s CRMS, overseen by the Community Relations functional group, has been to require that all operations have an effective grievance mechanism in place.  Consistent with the UNGPs, Barrick’s CRMS provides all communities where we operate access to a simple and culturally sensitive process through which they can provide feedback and seek resolution to legitimate concerns.

Another key procedure relates to reporting and investigating human rights−related allegations. A global internal procedure requires immediate reporting and escalation of information related to potential negative human rights impacts.  All information about potential human rights violations must be reported, regardless of whether it seems credible to the person or the amount of detail that the person might know.  The procedure also contains details on how information should be reported, and it includes an anti-retaliation provision.  We also require that all allegations of negative human rights impacts must be investigated, though the nature and extent of the investigation may vary depending on the circumstances.  Typically, for serious potential human rights breaches, we strive to create independence in our investigations.  That may be through external investigators that we retain.  It also may be through our corporate investigations unit, which is housed at our headquarters and is independent of the site or location where a breach may have occurred; the investigations unit is supervised by the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) and Operations Officer, and the results are reported to a committee of the Board of Directors. 

We require that all allegations of negative human rights impacts be investigated.

As a general proposition, we try to keep stakeholders updated on potentially serious negative impacts.  Our community relations teams provide regular feedback and updates to community members who report concerns through our grievance mechanisms, and provide information directly and continually to potentially affected communities and individuals where there are potentially negative impacts of which they might not otherwise be aware.  That has included in-person meetings, alerts through the media, and other formats.  For serious allegations of negative impacts, we may also provide information and updates for activities involving joint ventures and business partners we do not control or operate.  For instance, in 2017, the Company reported in depth on security-related allegations at the Porgera Joint Venture.

Finally, we have created internal guidance documents to help our people in implementing our program.  These include guidance on how to:

  • Help detect and respond to allegations of retaliation for whistleblowers
  • Map our people for appropriate training
  • Conduct due diligence on prospective people and institute relevant controls
  • Provide human rights remediation.

While our policy framework has grown substantially, we are still working to identify ways to strengthen it. In 2016, for instance, in response to growing concerns about global harassment, we introduced a new harassment standard to help provide greater workplace protections. We also felt we could do more to emphasize the importance of reporting concerns in good faith, and introduced new non-retaliation guidance for human resources and legal personnel. In 2017, we also enhanced our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics to make it easier to understand and apply. As we move forward, we will continue to look for ways to improve our systems and processes.

Element 2: Governance and Oversight

Day-to-day responsibility of the Human Rights Program is vested in the CCO. In addition, the CCO maintains a direct reporting line to relevant committees of the Board of Directors on compliance-related issues, including human rights and investigations. The CCO 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 CCO 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 other international and local regulatory requirements. 

Putting it into practice

The Charter of the Corporate Responsibility Committee of the Board of Directors, composed of independent Board members, specifically includes human rights, and the Committee actively oversees our human rights program. The Committee receives a quarterly update on salient human rights risks, key issues, trends, and projects and an annual update discussion of the Human Rights Policy and any significant changes. 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.  In 2017, quarterly presentations included issues related to many of our salient risks, including water quality and quantity, security-related incidents at Porgera, sexual harassment, and serious injuries and fatalities.

As the program is primarily implemented on a local basis, accountability rests largely with our country leaders.  Country legal or compliance 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 our people 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 our people 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 reviewed and approved by our Board of Directors, demonstrating the significance of these programs to the company.  In 2017, issues related to our salient risks were discussed throughout the year, including issues related to water quality and quantity, workplace safety and fatalities, security and human rights issues, and sexual harassment and sexual violence. 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. We include human rights specifically within our enterprise risk matrix and we tie aspects of the program to executive compensation, as reflected in our 2018 Information Circular

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 other senior leaders. Once per month, the CCO 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 Information Circulars, and our performance on our human rights program is directly linked to the compensation for one director.  We also directly tie performance under our human rights program (as well as our health and safety program) to our global bonus scorecard, which can impact people across the company; in 2017, the bonus scorecard includes key performance indicators on human rights related to messaging, 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.

Element 3: Due Diligence

Given Barrick’s size and diverse operational contexts, no single process can provide a full picture of the company’s human rights impacts at any given location, much less around the world. We therefore take a holistic approach to understand our overall human rights footprint.

Putting it into practice

Human rights impact assessments:  One of the cornerstones of our due-diligence efforts is a stand-alone, independent human rights assessment program for Barrick-operated properties. The assessments are conducted by Avanzar, a respected independent third-party consultancy, and focus on actual, potential, and perceived impacts. Each site is assessed on a periodic cycle of two to three years, depending on risk. The focus is on continuous improvement, not a one-time identification of risks, to better allow for tracking the actions taken in response to impacts identified and their effectiveness.  These actions are sometimes incorporated into the larger program as lessons learned.  A well-regarded NGO, Fund for Peace, serves as an external independent advisor on the program, and Professor John Ruggie also provides advice and guidance on discrete issues associated with the assessments.  In-depth assessments of applicable country-level risks have been provided by the Danish Institute for Human Rights.   

The human rights assessment program began in 2011, and to date, all high- and medium-risk sites have been assessed at least once.  In 2017, there were Human Rights and Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights assessments completed at Jabal Sayid (Saudi Arabia), Porgera (Papua New Guinea), and Pueblo Viejo (Dominican Republic).  The findings are incorporated into our overall assessment of enterprise risks under our enterprise risk management system, and may be discussed during our weekly BPRs. Summary reports of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 assessments are available by request to

Our approach is distinguishable from one-time “stand-alone” assessments.  It is also different from functional unit management system assessments, although (as noted below) we seek to create synergies with other assessments that relate to human rights to help more effectively identify our human rights impacts and risks.

New Acquisitions and Mine Projects

We recognize that it is important for our human rights program to extend in full to new operations that may be developed or acquired.  In the mining industry, acquisitions and dispositions of assets are common.  In addition, when sites evolve from exploration to construction to operation, their character, personnel, and risks change as well.  We approach these areas in different ways.

Pre-acquisition (and disposition)
.  Under our human rights program, we strive to conduct human rights due diligence as part of acquisitions to identify existing risks and impacts.  To that end, we have created an internal guidance document, the Guidelines for Asset Acquisition and Disposition, to assist in conducting human rights due diligence for potential asset purchases (and sales). 

Post-acquisition.  Following an acquisition, it is important that we rapidly apply, and that the acquired company integrate, the human rights program (and other international regulatory and compliance programs) into its systems. 

Pre-construction.  Before mine projects are constructed, we strive to conduct human rights assessments and include them in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Reports.

As operations develop.  As our operations develop, we continue to assess their human rights impacts, risks, and needs, and adjust the program accordingly. 

Internal and external audits: In addition to our human rights assessments, we conduct a variety of internal and external audit and assurance activities that bear upon the human rights program. The results are examined over a multi-year period to identify trends and changes. We also consider the findings in conjunction with information generated by other processes, such as through our enterprise risk management process, internal audits, grievances, hotline reports, our third-party annual social assurance process, community and stakeholder engagement programs, engagements with site and functional leads, and investigations into incidents.

Screening: Important for any compliance program is screening potential personnel whose background suggests they pose risks to the substantive principles at issue.  All potential Barrick people receive pre-screening questions that could result in disqualification for employment based on past human rights violations. Everyone undergoes basic due diligence through a third-party research platform before being hired, and background checks are conducted for personnel in positions of trust. People in positions where human rights risks may be most prevalent, such as security, also receive heightened vetting and due diligence.  In addition, job applications and/or accepted employment letters and agreements contain statements expressing our human rights expectations.

In 2017, more than 2,200 people were onboarded and received human rights training.

Supplier screening and onboarding: Negative human rights impacts can occur as a result of behavior from our suppliers and their subcontractors. Therefore, as with potential people, we educate potential suppliers on our human rights expectations to assist them in improving their human rights performance before we enter a relationship with them. Before contracting with a supplier, we require that the supplier abide by our Supplier Code of Ethics, which incorporates the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact and key concepts of Barrick’s Human Rights Policy and Policy with Respect to the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. We also include human rights considerations in our global Vendor Onboarding Standard. This includes basic due diligence related to human rights on all direct suppliers before contracting with them, and it may include enhanced due diligence on suppliers who may have elevated risks of negative human rights impacts or who provide goods or services on-site.

Once Barrick agrees to do business with a supplier, Barrick’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and Human Rights Policy apply to them in their work for us, just as it does to our own people. Our contracts with third parties typically have provisions requiring suppliers to abide by key human rights norms and Barrick policies, and we sometimes provide focused training to suppliers who have particular risks of negative human rights impacts. Under our Human Rights Policy, suppliers are expected to report human rights issues of which they become aware, and we may ask suppliers to periodically provide certifications that they are not aware of any unreported human rights allegations in their work.  We conducted due diligence on 99% of new mining operations suppliers in 2017—more than 10,600 vendors. Where appropriate, we investigate allegations involving existing suppliers and engage with them in providing remediation for negative human rights impacts.  

We are continuing to look at ways to make our diligence process more efficient and effective. In 2017, we incorporated into our human rights assessments additional, more in-depth indicators related to trafficking. We are actively considering different technology solutions to streamline our processes and allow for better record keeping and monitoring. We also are continuing to work with UNICEF and UNICEF Canada to develop a Child Rights and Security Checklist, to help improve the approach for us and others regarding children’s rights in the security context and think about how to better protect vulnerable populations more generally.

Element 4: Training and Advice

We always try to be clear to our people and contractors about our human rights expectations and requirements. We start by conveying our expectations even before a new person joins the company. The pre-screening for prospective people not only helps us hire the best candidates, but also makes clear the primacy we place on ethical colleagues.  In addition, employment letters and agreements contain statements expressing our human rights expectations, again making clear that our human rights standards are unwavering.  Upon joining the company, all of our people, regardless of location or position, receive basic human rights training during their induction. More than 2,200 new people received this training in 2017. Certain relevant people, including all security personnel, also receive focused in-person human rights training pertaining to their areas. 

Upon joining the company, all of our people, regardless of location or position, receive basic human rights training during their induction.
Putting it into practice

On an annual basis, every person with a computer receives refresher training on human rights.  Many other people who do not have computers receive training through other means, such as DVDs.  In addition, in 2014, the Office of the General Counsel created a Guidance for Employee Mapping, to help sites identify people who may be more exposed to certain human rights risks and who therefore should receive enhanced, in-person human rights training on an annual basis. Consistent with that guidance, approximately 7,350 people received human rights training in some format in 2017, including all security personnel and contractors, and all Community Relations personnel.  Our “train the trainer” model empowers country-level people to implement our training program and deliver relevant, accessible, and effective human rights training.  For certain functional areas, such as security and Community Relations, Barrick tracks the effectiveness of this training through internal assurance processes and other means.

Approximately 7,350 people received human rights training in some format in 2017, including all Security personnel and contractors, and all Community Relations personnel.

Finally, thousands of people are required to sign annual certifications stating that they are not aware of any potential unreported violations of our Human Rights Policy, and agreeing to report any they may learn of. This also serves as a reminder of the importance of the program.  

While our training program is comprehensive, we are thinking of ways to improve it. The training could be more engaging for our people and contractors, and we are considering different training approaches.

In 2016, we introduced a new segment into all live and electronic training focusing on modern slavery.  The segment provides common indicators of slave labor and includes advice on how to report such issues and concerns. In particular, the segment includes indicators to identify slave labor both within our operations and supply chain and in the local communities where many of our people and their families live.  By empowering our workforce to identify slave labor in local communities, we hope to increase the impact of our training and further contribute to the global effort to eradicate modern slavery in all its forms. In 2017, we emphasized our Harassment Standard, which was recently introduced, along with the modern slavery segment.  We also expect to emphasize our security training content related to children’s rights and those of other vulnerable populations.

Element 5: Disciplinary Action & Remedy

Despite our efforts, we know our policies and procedures can be breached.  We think it is important to provide clear information to our people and third parties on the ramifications of breaching our Human Rights Policy, and other policies, as well as our approach to how remediation will be addressed.

Putting it into practice

At Barrick, our message to our people is clear:  violation of our Human Rights Policy and related procedures may lead to discipline, up to and including termination. Those policies and procedures relate not only to avoiding human rights violations, but also to reporting information about known human rights violations and cooperating with investigators reviewing human rights allegations. People have been disciplined and dismissed, and suppliers have been terminated, where individuals have committed human rights violations, have failed to report human rights violations, or have hindered investigations into potential human rights violations.

At Barrick, our message to our people is clear:  violation of our Human Rights Policy and related procedures may lead to discipline, up to and including termination.

The potential disciplinary measures for our people range from individual counseling, to focused training, to oral or written warnings, to financial penalties, to termination in cases of serious breaches.  In assessing the appropriate disciplinary measures, numerous factors are considered, including the significance of the procedural breach (and thus of the human rights violation), whether the individual received prior training in the area, the length of time the individual has served in the position, whether the individual was on or off duty, local law, the level of cooperation with investigators, showings of remorse and individual remediation efforts, whether the individual has committed past breaches, and whether the breach was intentional. 

For third-party suppliers, discipline for committing human rights violations, failing to report violations, or hindering investigations may include termination of existing relationships, requests for focused training, and other measures.  We also are unequivocal in advising our people and third parties that, where we conclude that they have committed or contributed to serious human rights violations, we will cooperate with the police in prosecution efforts, and we may assist victims in seeking redress directly against perpetrators.   

Compliance Hotline

Barrick has internal global procedures that outline the mechanisms that our people and third parties can use to notify local and head office management of potential human rights violations. These procedures also specify how alleged violations are to be investigated. Our people and third parties are routinely encouraged to use Barrick’s Compliance Hotline to report any potential human rights violations they might see or hear about. Details on the hotline are available on Barrick’s website and intranet, and we are continually striving to identify additional means of reporting concerns. For instance, a few years ago we added a web-based method of reporting, and in 2018, we are working toward creating a compliance app that will allow such reporting.  Our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics emphasizes that our people and third parties who make reports in good faith will not be retaliated against, the importance of non-retaliation is emphasized in training on the Code (given to thousands of people each year), and we have an internal guidance document to assist supervisors and other operational leaders in monitoring and responding to potential retaliation against those who make reports. 

Grievance Mechanism & Remedy

We recognize that our human rights compliance program may not prevent all negative impacts on rights holders, and we have policies and procedures so that every community in which we operate has simple, accessible grievance mechanisms to provide feedback and request remediation for legitimate concerns. Grievance channels vary by site, and include message boxes, telephone hotlines, town hall meetings, supervisors (for our people), and direct contact with Barrick people. Our annual human rights assessments include a review of how effectively the grievance mechanisms escalate potential human rights concerns. Our grievance mechanisms are also internally audited for implementation and effectiveness during regular audits of our Community Relations Management System (CRMS), and externally assessed against the UNGPs effectiveness criteria. Barrick has also commissioned independent reviews of site grievance mechanisms to test whether they are meeting the needs of the company, its mines and its host communities.

In 2017, our sites received 259 grievances and resolved 244 grievances, including cases carried over from the previous year. At the end of 2017, 34 grievances remained outstanding. The types and number of grievances vary significantly between sites. At the majority of our sites, grievances are primarily related to contractor behavior, property damage, and demands for local employment, local procurement, and contracting opportunities.

When we identify negative human rights impacts that we cause, contribute to, or are directly linked to, we strive to take a culturally appropriate and thoughtful approach to remediation and communication, and we seek to avoid obstructing access to other remedies in a manner consistent with the UNGPs.  For instance, in the course of implementing the Porgera Remedy Framework, there was extensive debate over when and whether a company, in providing a remedy to someone under a grievance mechanism, can request that the person forgo future claims against the company for the same harms. Barrick welcomed this debate and sought the advice of a range of actors, including Professor Ruggie, the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, leading human rights attorneys, and prominent human rights consultants and advisors. These experts helped shape Barrick’s approach and confirmed that it was consistent with international standards. 

We are sensitive to the importance of collaborative stakeholder and victim input in the development of appropriate remedies. We also recognize the potential need for independence in circumstances where remediation may be appropriate. That includes voluntary participation in independent state-based non-judicial complaints. For instance, we have engaged extensively with Canada's CSR Counselor on a range of issues, and in 2011 and 2012, we participated in an OECD National Contact Point facilitated dialogue arising from incidents at Porgera, reaching agreement with the notifiers on water monitoring and other issues. For serious negative human rights impacts, we have developed corporate guidelines regarding the internal personnel involved in assessing how remediation of negative human rights impacts will be handled, including consideration of reporting to local authorities. 

In assessing when remediation may be appropriate and the nature of the remediation to be provided, we are particularly sensitive to the importance of victim participation, stakeholder input, and the potential need for independence from the operational unit that may be involved in the negative impact.  While remedies for negative human rights impacts will naturally differ depending on the circumstances, in-kind remediation is often preferred to cash, and sites have adopted guidelines that consider such factors, including the degree and nature of the harm suffered, whether mine personnel were involved and on duty, whether third-party perpetrators used mine resources or committed an act related to their contracted duties, the nature of the evidence in support of the claim, the individual’s age and personal circumstances, and local laws. Examples of remedies provided include apologies, cash compensation, remediation of the underlying problem, focused training, and strengthening of processes.  Where negative human rights impacts are caused or contributed to by entities in our value chain, we try to use leverage to have them provided with appropriate remedy and design processes to prevent recurrence.

We believe there are ways we can continue to improve our approach to disciplinary actions and remedies.  One way is to help make more transparent our consideration of factors that may increase or decrease the severity of discipline; we hope our enhanced Code of Business Conduct and Ethics will help in that respect.  We can work to make the operational grievance mechanisms at all of our sites more accessible and attentive to youths and children and their representatives.  We also see room for improvement in our approach to influencing the grievance mechanisms at sites we do not operate but where we own a significant interest, and are considering different strategies.

Element 6: Monitoring & Reporting

An important part of our program is persistent monitoring of our activities, particularly around our salient risks.  In addition, while we strive to be transparent with our external stakeholders, we often must balance competing risks associated with disclosures, including commercially and legally sensitive information, potential harm to stakeholders, and confidentiality requirements.  The UN Guiding Principles themselves acknowledge that tension.

Putting it into practice

Our monitoring activities take different forms.  For instance, we engage in a variety of local programs related to water monitoring and environmental impacts.  Our audits and assessments also help assess the status of our programs and their impacts.  Local communities, our people, and third parties also perform important monitoring of our activities, and can provide feedback through active engagement, our grievance mechanisms, and the hotline.  And of course, our Board of Directors, including our Corporate Responsibility Committee of the Board, provides important monitoring of our activities.

We also try to be transparent in the reporting of our program and performance.  Consistent with the UN Guiding Principles, we publicize our human rights commitments to local communities and other stakeholders. This includes through consultations with our Community Relations personnel, who are best positioned to provide such information in a culturally appropriate way to potentially affected stakeholders in communities near our operations.  As part of the Voluntary Principles (VPs), we also engage with and consult local communities about security arrangements and our expectations around human rights.  With those potentially affected, we strive to discuss candidly our systems and processes for mitigating negative human rights impacts that we may cause or contribute to. We are open in our approach when negative impacts are caused by our suppliers, contractors, or other third parties.  Moreover, we try to report formally when there are severe human rights impacts or risks of such impacts.  We have also directly contacted and engaged with key external stakeholders about human rights incidents, progress in remediation efforts, and the relative effectiveness of our systems and processes. 

Much of our global external reporting occurs on our website, which we update to reflect new information or events, or through our annual Sustainability Report.  Additional reporting is done at conferences, roundtables, and workshops.  Reporting also takes place through initiatives or groups in which we participate such as the annual reports to the VPs and to the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). For the latter, an external letter of assurance related to our systems and processes is submitted each year and referenced in our Sustainability Report. Other avenues of transparency may occur with our increasing number of partnerships with civil society organizations.  A report by UNICEF on a pilot project regarding human rights due diligence at our Lagunas Norte mine in Peru is one example, available here. Furthermore, for the historical sexual assaults at the Porgera mine, which Barrick previously operated, we supported the publication of an expert independent assessment of the formal remedy program that was instituted. That report is available here. Other recent examples include:

  • Distributing booklets regarding human rights to local community members and government entities;
  • Conducting community surveys on the prevalence of violence to gain feedback on how to improve security arrangements;
  • Engaging with public officials and community authorities on how to promote respect for law and order, reduce conflict, and enhance and strengthen justice service delivery; and
  • Providing education on the impacts of land purchase and sales. 

In addition to this public reporting, there are several important internal reporting channels.  As noted above, our human rights program and salient issues are discussed on a monthly basis with all global Barrick leaders in our BPRs and reported weekly by our sites in their license-to-operate report. In addition, the Corporate Responsibility Committee of the Board is briefed on a quarterly basis. The program is also frequently discussed through other avenues of communication, and elements are incorporated into compensation metrics.  When incidents occur or human rights–related allegations are made, an escalation procedure requires immediate reporting to the CCO.

Looking forward, of the six key elements of the human rights compliance program, we believe our monitoring and reporting are perhaps the area where the most work can be done.  We are considering ways, such as through our Human Rights Report, to improve our reporting on the elements of our program, where it can be improved and how it can grow.  We also know we can be more effective in how we quantify and report on the effectiveness and impacts of our programs.  To increase visibility into our operations in real time, we have established cameras available to the public at some of our sites; through technology and digitization, we are identifying other ways to increase that level of transparency.

Salient Human Rights Risks

As an extractive company with global operations, we know there are many ways our activities may directly or indirectly, positively or negatively, impact human rights.  Our human rights program, and our engagement with internal and external experts and stakeholders, provide many of the important inputs and processes to help us identify these potential impacts. In identifying our salient risks, we undertook three sets of activities: 

  • Analyzing the past results of our internal processes.  These include results from third-party human rights assessments, internal and external audits and assessments, hotline reports and investigations, grievances, and our enterprise risk management process, which includes root cause analysis.
  • Analyzing sectoral risks and the risks in the countries and communities where we operate.  Our participation in multi-stakeholder initiatives like the Voluntary Principles, in cross-sector working groups like BSR’s Human Rights Working Group, and in industry associations like the Mining Association of Canada and the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) are important sources of information. These and other forums help broaden our understanding of where the risk of adverse human rights impacts is most significant for mining companies. 
  • Formal and informal consultation with senior management, external experts, and civil society organizations, and ongoing engagement with internal and external stakeholders, at our mine sites, in our host countries and communities, at the corporate level, and through workshops and meetings as well as one-on-one conversations. In addition, in 2017 and 2018 we have done extensive internal and external stakeholder surveys that have informed our salient risks. 

As a result of that analysis, we continue to consider new data points and have reaffirmed six key areas that may pose risks to rights-holders, without specific reference to geographies. We continuously evaluate this list in light of issues we see in our operations, changes in the industry, and feedback from stakeholders.  While other issues, such as those related to Indigenous Peoples, are important to us and within the extractive industry as a whole, they are not considered salient human rights risks for us—whether because of the nature of our assets, the geographies where we operate, or otherwise.  That could change, of course, and hence it is important to continue to reflect on the nature of our risks and impacts.

Human Rights Assessments

A cornerstone of our human rights program is a stand-alone, independent human rights assessment program for Barrick-operated properties.

Started in 2011, the program has assessed all high- and medium-risk sites operated by Barrick at least once, and the highest-risk operations have been assessed more than once. The assessments are conducted by Avanzar, a highly respected independent consulting organization that focuses on human rights–related assessments. Avanzar assesses the actual, potential, and perceived human rights risks and impacts at every high-risk Barrick operation and advanced project. In 2015, an assessment was conducted at the Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic.  In 2016, impact assessments were conducted at the Lagunas Norte and Pierina mines in Peru and the Lumwana mine in Zambia. In 2017, there were Human Rights and Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights assessments completed at the Barrick-operated Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic, as well as Jabal Sayid mine in Saudi Arabia and the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea, which Barrick does not operate.

Fund for Peace, a well-regarded NGO that works to prevent conflict and human rights abuses, has served as an external and independent advisor to the company in this project. Their role has included reviewing and editing the assessment tool used by Avanzar, providing guidance on the assessment plan, reviewing the reports, and discussing follow-up priorities. Professor John Ruggie, former UN Secretary General Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, may also provide advice and guidance on discrete issues associated with the assessments. Finally, several years ago, we developed a partnership with the Danish Institute for Human Rights, from which we have received detailed assessments of applicable country-level laws and the extent to which those laws are implemented, which has further informed our assessment approach.

The Methodology Used

The third-party assessments of Barrick-operated properties use an assessment tool that covers all potentially relevant human rights and hundreds of individual indicators.  The tool focuses on seven categories where extractive companies commonly face the prospect of causing, contributing to, or being linked to negative human rights impacts: (1) labor and working conditions; (2) Indigenous Peoples; (3) economic, social, and cultural rights; (4) environment and health and safety; (5) land rights; (6) security; and (7) anti-corruption. Issues related to supply chain, third parties, and vulnerable peoples also are embedded throughout these seven categories.  Each of the categories includes several sub-categories, composed of multiple individual indicators, which feed into a three-part question for the sub-category. These questions are:  Does management have a procedure to address the risk? What actions demonstrate that the procedure has been followed? Do stakeholders believe the company is respecting the human right at issue?

Avanzar’s methodology consists of documentary and desktop reviews to identify areas of greatest risk and concern at a country and site level (including consideration of geographic, social and economic-related risks); determining the assessment scope for each site; semi-structured interviews with Barrick people (on-site and by phone); semi-structured interviews with key external stakeholders (on-site and by phone); and draft report preparation for the CCO. The process includes substantial internal and external stakeholder engagement to gather information regarding perceived human rights impacts and to verify human rights risks and impacts identified. Avanzar’s engagement methodology applies recognized qualitative research methods, including interviews, focus groups, and observation, to capture stakeholder concerns and issues related to Barrick’s operations. Key providers of information include specific external rights-holders whose rights may be impacted by the mine, such as nearby communities, individuals who have been resettled, employees of mine contractors, and individuals who have lodged grievances with human rights implications.

Drafting the Report and Integration of Findings

After information is gathered and assessed against the tool, Avanzar provides a draft report to the CCO, incorporating and following our enterprise risk management matrix.  The CCO shares a draft report with the external independent reviewer, and then with local management and relevant functional unit personnel who may be involved in managing salient issues. Those comments are reviewed and integrated, and the CCO issues a final report and proposed action plan.  This plan is then reviewed, adjusted and adopted by local management and other relevant personnel who may be involved in managing the pertinent issues. Once finalized, the process calls for action plan items to be included in a data system that automatically follows up with the assigned personnel to create accountability for executing the plan. Presentations on the reviews and follow-up are reported on a monthly basis during BPR sessions with senior company leaders, and quarterly to the Corporate Responsibility Committee of the Board of Directors.  Avanzar also assesses whether issues identified in prior assessments have been effectively remediated. Where issues are not effectively remediated, we have learned, the causes can be lack of adequately dedicated resources, lack of training or understanding, or simply a lack of prioritization.

The findings, along with other perceived risks of negative impacts, are incorporated into our overall assessment of enterprise risks under our enterprise risk management system, which is presented to and overseen by the Risk Committee of the Board of Directors.  Responses to issues and concerns identified by local external stakeholders are generally addressed by Community Relations personnel, management, and others at each individual site.  To the extent that tensions arise between mitigating impacts and other business objectives, those tensions may be resolved through dialogue at the Board Committee level, during the BPRs, or in discussions between the CCO and relevant business units.

This assessment approach is distinguished from one-time “stand-alone” assessments, such as predictive assessments conducted during the feasibility and pre-feasibility stages of a project, and functional unit management system assessments designed to measure compliance with policies and procedures at mine sites. However, consistent with our holistic approach, we try to create synergies with other assessments that relate to human rights to help enhance our ability to accurately identify our human rights impacts and risks. Our compliance with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, for instance, is assessed regularly through multiple internal and external review channels with the outcomes considered by the company and Avanzar. Internal assurance work for functional areas whose activities present salient human rights risks, including Community Relations, Safety and Health, and Environment, also occur regularly.