Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2021) and Montreal's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 12, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why Rio Tinto was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2021) and Montreal's Top Employers (2021):
- Rio Tinto created the Rio Tinto Aluminium Fund Canada back in 2008 and has invested over $10-million into initiatives related to First Nations, education, health and well-being, poverty reduction, environment and community -- and over the past year, the firm has donated needed critical care equipment to hospitals to assist during the pandemic
- Rio Tinto supports employees who are new mothers with maternity leave top-up payments of up to 100 per cent of salary for 18 weeks and offers the convenience of onsite child care at its head office -- the company also provides parental leave top-up for adoptive parents (to 100 per cent of salary for 18 weeks)
- Rio Tinto starts new employees with three weeks of paid vacation and considers previous work experience when setting vacation entitlements for experienced candidates -- longer-serving employees can apply for unpaid leaves of absence (up to 12 months in duration)
Rio Tinto offers opportunities to advance – and to help
Born and raised in the mining town of Labrador City, N.L., Michelle Manning always thought she’d have to move away from the community she loves to pursue a career. Instead, Manning has spent the last 14 years working her way up from haul truck driver to superintendent, mine operations, at Rio Tinto’s IOC iron ore business.
Manning credits IOC’s culture of continual learning for her steady development, having also served in supervisory roles in mine dispatch and the mine’s operations centre.
“The opportunities are endless,” she says. “There’s a positivity and focus on professional growth. People recognize when you do good work and they want to help you build a career.”
From underground miners to data scientists, Rio Tinto offers a variety of challenging, flexible and rewarding careers. In addition to producing aluminum, iron ore, titanium and diamonds from sites in Labrador, Québec, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, Rio Tinto is a leading global mining and metals company that operates in 36 countries.
Montréal is one of the company’s three global hubs and also home to Rio Tinto’s Processing Centre of Excellence.
In a traditionally male-dominated industry, Rio Tinto is committed to gender parity. The company’s goal is to increase women in senior management by two per cent each year and for its graduate intake to be 50 per cent women.
“This is really adding to the strength of our business, making sure we have the best people bringing a diversity of thinking to the table,” says Alf Barrios, chief executive, Rio Tinto Aluminium, whose leadership team has already achieved gender parity.
Rio Tinto’s five core values are safety, teamwork, respect, integrity and excellence. Barrios says these values have proven critical as the company responded to a once-in-acentury health pandemic.
As an essential industry, Rio Tinto has continued to operate through COVID-19, keeping more than 10,000 employees at work across 35 Canadian sites.
The company’s first priority is the health and safety of its people. Since March, employees not required on site – including nearly 800 people at its Montréal hub – worked from home. On site, the highest standard of COVID-19 safety protocols are enforced following government guidance, including temperature checks, increased sanitizing, social distancing, and mandatory testing for fly-infly-out workers in some regions.
Operationally, there have also been adjustments. Rio Tinto Aluminium, for example, has shifted its product mix through 2020 to meet market requirements.
“The resilience of our team through COVID-19 is truly remarkable and reflected in the stability of our operations,” says Barrios. “While increased safety measures continue to be enforced, our operations are essentially back to normal.”
The company also responded proactively to community needs. Overall, Rio Tinto pledged US$10 million to support grassroots COVID-19 relief across North America.
In Canada, the company donated thousands of masks and other personal protection equipment to local hospitals, clinics, RCMP detachments and fire stations. From Labrador to British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, Rio Tinto partnered with community organizations and First Nations to fund food banks, support local businesses and supply tablets and other electronic tools to facilitate distance education.
Employees also stepped up. In the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region of Québec, health and safety advisers volunteered to help advance COVID-19 prevention measures in long-term care homes. Technicians and researchers in Saguenay and Sorel-Tracy, Qué., produced hand sanitizer to ease pressure on local supplies.
In Labrador City, where Rio Tinto has provided alternative housing for a local women’s shelter, Manning says this is typical of how close-knit the company and community have always been.
“It’s just amazing how everyone pulls together,” she says. “By working together, we’ll get through this.”
Rio Tinto offers opportunity and strong value
As part of his job at Rio Tinto, Joey Kairala analyses business decisions related to ELYSIS, a joint venture the global mining and metals company is pursuing with Alcoa, in partnership with Apple and the governments of Canada and Québec. The partnership is further developing a new technology that eliminates direct carbon emissions from the aluminum production process.
The work combines two key factors that drew Kairala to Rio Tinto – innovation and a commitment to environmental stewardship.
“Working for a company with these values is very important to me. We’ve announced clear emission abatement targets and are working towards them,” says Kairala, a senior advisor, strategy & business analysis, at Rio Tinto’s Montréal Hub.
Values, along with a wealth of opportunities, are points Kairala stresses when asked to speak to recent graduates.
“I tell them to look at the opportunity to grow and what a company stands for,” says Kairala. “From day one at Rio Tinto, you are put in a new grad program and assigned a ‘buddy’ to mentor you. You learn about different aspects of the business in ways that help you choose a career path.”
In addition to producing aluminium, iron ore, titanium and diamonds across Canada, Rio Tinto operates in 36 countries. Montréal is one of its three global hubs, supporting the Americas, Europe and Africa, and is home to Rio Tinto’s Processing Centre of Excellence.
As part of an essential industry, Rio Tinto continued to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees not required on site worked from home. On-site employees follow the highest standard of safety protocols, in accordance with government guidance, including health questionnaires, temperature checks at the gate and social distancing.
Across North America, Rio Tinto pledged US$10 million to community-based pandemic relief efforts, including support for food banks and women’s shelters. The company also donated tens of thousands of masks and personal protection equipment to hospitals, RCMP detachments and fire stations.
In Québec, Rio Tinto supported new initiatives by groups such as Alloprof, an organization that provides digital tutoring resources to students and their parents. In Saguenay–Lac-St-Jean, the company distributed $25 gift cards to all of its employees to be used in local shops and restaurants, infusing $100,000 into the regional economy.
“This situation has reinforced the importance of staying connected and supporting those around us,” says Alf Barrios, Rio Tinto’s country head for Canada. “I’m very proud of what our company and employees have done to help those most in need.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2021):
By Kristina Leung, Stephanie Leung, and Jing Wang, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 18, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Rio Tinto was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2021):
- Rio Tinto manages a two-year Graduate Development Programme designed to help prepare new graduates for leadership roles -- the program features a range of unique opportunities including individual coaching sessions, mentoring, collaborative networking, and online learning with their peers
- In the first year of the Graduate Development Programme, participants attend a graduate summit, which helps them expand their knowledge and build relationships with other graduates, leaders and technical experts
Rio Tinto puts graduates on the path to success
Mallory Seward and Umaima Hassaun both travelled far for their first big career break.
Seward, a native Newfoundlander, earned her commerce degree from Memorial University in St. John’s. Umaima Hassaun, a native of Kuwait, graduated from the University of Manitoba with a degree in electrical engineering. In 2019, they both landed in the northern British Columbia community of Kitimat to work at Rio Tinto’s BC Works aluminum smelter as part of the company’s signature graduate program.
Across many disciplines, the two-year Graduate Excellence Path program offers graduates a blend of on-the-job training, mentorship and networking, as well as opportunities to interact with other Rio Tinto graduates from around the world.
“The graduate program was a major part of the recruitment appeal for me,” says Seward. “The biggest benefits are the learning and networking, not just with other graduates, but with senior executives I never expected to be in the same room with at such an early point in my career.” For Hassaun, mentorship is the key.
“I have a mentor for the technical work I do on site and a leadership coach who is helping me build my personal and leadership skills,” she says. “I also do rotations with a number of departments, so it’s great for having different perspectives of learning.”
Both women praise Rio Tinto’s generous relocation process, including the fact they were flown in for a site visit before deciding whether to accept the jobs in Kitimat.
“There can be a level of intimidation when you start a new job in a new place,” says Seward. “The graduate program smooths that all out and provides a nice transition between school and the workplace.”
In addition to producing aluminum, iron ore, titanium and diamonds from several Canadian sites, Rio Tinto operates in more than 30 countries. Montréal is one of the company’s three major hubs and home to Rio Tinto’s Processing Centre of Excellence.
“Our graduate program is designed to prepare the next generation of professionals for the leadership roles of the future,” says Maxime Savignac, vice president, human resources, Rio Tinto Aluminum. “We are always impressed by the innovative spirit, problem-solving skills and maturity of our graduates and proud to see many of them pursue a long-term career at Rio Tinto.”
For Hassaun and Seward, it’s also been a chance to shine on a global stage. They recently participated in an internal, international competition, called “the innovation pitch,” and emerged as part of the winning team.
The competition asked participating graduates a simple, but ambitious, question: If there were no limitations, what would you do to make the world a better place?
The winning team, which also included Rio Tinto graduates based in the Northwest Territories, Québec and Utah, proposed a global sustainability index, across industries and commodities, that would give consumers the ability to easily assess the sustainability of a given product.
“The idea is that if you walked into a store and were looking at two jars of something you wanted to buy, each would have a price tag as well as a number that told you how sustainably the product was made,” says Seward. “So if both are the same price, you pick the more sustainable one.”
The winning team got the nod to pitch the idea directly to Rio Tinto’s executive leadership committee.
“The whole idea is in keeping with Rio Tinto’s commitments to having the lowest possible carbon footprint and other green initiatives,” says Hassaun. “It’s a very impressive part of working here.