Cam Tirendi

Cameron Tirendi

BHP | Principal Program Delivery | Global Co-Lead Jasper, LGBTIQ+ ally network | Mental Health First Aider

BHP has been a proud supporter of The Pinnacle Foundation since 2019, becoming a Platinum Partner, and providing three multi-year Named Scholarships – one for each of its major operating areas in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. BHP continues to extend and expand its support for young LGBTIQ+ people in regional Australia. The team at BHP actively identify opportunities for BHP suppliers to become involved in supporting The Pinnacle Foundation.

BHP has a strong commitment to contributing to society through engagement and advocacy on important issues and by supporting targeted development areas to benefit the communities where it operates, making BHP and Pinnacle natural partners in working towards creating a more equitable playing field for young LGBTIQ+ Australians through educational scholarships and mentoring support.

We had a chat with Cameron Tirendi, Principal Program Delivery and Global Co-Lead of Jasper BHP’s LGBTIQ+ ally network and discussed BHP’s partnership with Pinnacle and their plans in continuing their support of young regional LGBTIQ+ people all around Australia – this year 53% of our new scholars come from a regional area, a testament to the work Pinnacle and partners like BHP are doing.

Tell us about Jasper and how BHP supports its LGBTIQ+ workforce.

In 2017, a team from across our global operations came together to form ‘Jasper’ – an employee resource group for BHP’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and others (LGBTIQ+) community and its allies.

Our group’s name was inspired by the mineral rock, jasper – known for its unique multi-coloured patterns. Jasper is a unique mineral that is found in Australia and other countries in which BHP operates. I thought the name Jasper was a fitting as jasper is a stone of endurance, perseverance, tenacity, and shields against negativity, much like the LGBTIQ+ people we support, and the name reflects the rich diversity of the LGBTIQ+ community.

Jasper was formally endorsed by BHP’s Global Inclusion and Diversity Council and Executive Leadership Team (ELT) in 2017 and has grown to over 1,500 members in 13 countries (as of March 2021).

Our work is focussed on strengthening the company’s culture by providing advice on ways to mitigate bias and ensure that LGBTIQ+ people are respected, valued and free from discrimination based on their sexual or gender identity.

At BHP we firmly believe that no employee should feel pressured to hide their sexual or gender identity.

Jasper creates a safe space for our LGBTIQ+ colleagues, many of whom enjoy the opportunity to break through geographic barriers to connect with colleagues around the world to share knowledge, professional development opportunities and form lasting friendships.

BHP recognises the important role leaders play in creating inclusive workplaces. Leaders attending LGBTIQ+ awareness sessions are provided with rainbow shoelaces and rainbow lanyards to convey inclusion, encourage respectful behaviour, and help connect LGBTIQ+ employees with Jasper. As of next week, we are also updating our website to draw attention to our Gender Affirmation Policy, which details how we will support employees affirming their gender including through a personalised workplace action plan, additional leave for people who require time away from work to affirm their gender, additional EAP support and a clothing allowance.

BHP is also listed as an LGBTQ Inclusive Employer and we have developed an Inclusive Language Guide which we updated this last year to include more on pronouns and an update to the company email signature to include pronouns. These initiatives have been very successful in helping change the narrative and improve inclusivity within BHP.

We continue to recognise days of significance, including IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia), Wear It Purple Day (awareness day for young people) and Transgender Awareness Week across our global locations. In 2020, despite the impacts of Covid-19, Jasper hosted a national virtual session at which a named Pinnacle BHP Scholar powerfully shared their story. We recognise the power of storytelling to critically reflect on individual biases and prejudices held.

Why did BHP choose to partner with The Pinnacle Foundation?

At the time BHP was looking at different potential partners to work with and in undertaking our due diligence and governance we came across The Pinnacle Foundation and we very much liked the way that Pinnacle’s scholarship program supported LGBTIQ+ youth and how well it aligned to our objectives. We also saw that The Pinnacle Foundation had not yet established its regional reach and we were very interested to see how BHP could support Pinnacle in accessing young LGBTIQ+ Australians in regional areas. We know that there is a great need in regional, rural and remote areas, in particular the regions where we operate, to have access to programs that support LGBTIQ+ youth to access educational and employment opportunities in a fair and equitable manner. We understood that there was increased disadvantage faced by young people in regional areas and we are currently working to identify further opportunities to create scholarships in additional areas where we operate. We also know that young people in regional areas have less opportunities and reduced access to support networks which is why we wanted to join with Pinnacle and the extended Pinnacle family to become a support system for these young people so that they can reach their goals and fulfil their potential.

We had the privilege of hearing one of Pinnacle’s scholars share their story at a Pinnacle event and their story had an impact on us at BHP and we knew then and there we wanted to get involved and support Pinnacle. We could clearly see the impact that accessing education had on this young person’s life and how Pinnacle had changed the trajectory of their life for the better and we knew that there was a great opportunity for a partnership to occur as both organisation’s values are closely aligned and we both had synergies in our common goals to access regional areas and provide support for young LGBTIQ+ Australians in these areas.

We actively invite Pinnacle scholars to present during events such as IDAHOBIT and Wear It Purple Day to provide an opportunity for them to share their stories and to meet some of the team at BHP. We also have two Pinnacle Foundation Representatives per state and they are quite active in Pinnacle’s State Committees, this means that BHP is actively participating with Pinnacle to keep in touch with the Foundation and our BHP scholars. We are interested in opening further opportunities for our scholars to have more access to BHP through potential mentoring opportunities. BHP is very proud to support our inspirational scholars to realise their full potential irrelevant of their sexual or gender identity. To help us continue to provide scholarships for young LGBTIQ+ people all around Australia, please go to our donate now page: https://thepinnaclefoundation.org/donate/donate-now/

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