About this Document
This document outlines the process to file grievances with the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI), and the steps taken by the RMI to address such matters. The mechanism was designed based on existing international frameworks and peer learning1. The RMI reserves the right to revise this document from time to time as deemed appropriate. The document will be made available to the public and all questions should be directed to email@example.com.
Legal Disclaimer: No guarantee, warranty or representation is made as to the accuracy or completeness of this document and other documents, or information sources referenced in this document. Use of this document is not intended to and does not replace, contravene, or otherwise alter the requirements of any applicable national, state, or local governmental statutes, laws, regulations, ordinances, or other requirements regarding the matters included herein. Use of this document by non-members is entirely voluntary and is neither intended nor does it create, establish, or recognize any legally enforceable obligations or rights against the RMI and/or its members or signatories. This document does not create, establish, or recognize any legally enforceable obligations of the RMI, and/or its. Non-members shall have no legal cause of action against the RMI, and/or its Members for failure to comply with this document.
1Based on the OECD, UNGP, ISO, IFC, ISEAL, and Verite guidance, and peer program documents such as RJC, LBMA, iTSCi, DMCC.
Overview and Purpose
The purpose of this document is to outline the RMI’s grievance review process, which is summarized on the RMI website’s grievance mechanism webpage. Stakeholders can utilize the webform on this page to raise concerns about the following:
- Participating auditee in the RMI program (as seen on the active and/or conformant list)
- Auditor or audit firm that conducted assessment
- "Cross-recognized auditee" (as seen on the active and/or conformant list)
- The Responsible Minerals Initiative organization (including operations, standards, tools, etc.)
This document also covers processes used to address grievances received by the RMI for RMI-related complaints and grievances. The RMI has cross-recognition agreements with organizations which may have grievance, complaint, and/or whistleblowing mechanisms in place of their own. The RMI will coordinate with these programs as appropriate.
This mechanism outlines a systematic way that the RMI assesses and responds to risks and/or potential opportunities for improvement that may stem from grievance review. The RMI aims to have a clear and coherent process to address grievances and manage risk. This mechanism is also a tool for constructive feedback that may drive continuous improvement and effectiveness of the RMI towards international best practices and further develop the program to address its stakeholders’ needs in the changing geopolitical and socioeconomic climate.
The RMI views risk management and continuous improvement as an iterative process, particularly in situations where new information is produced, or the situation escalates or deteriorates. It is expected that this procedure would be invoked in response to any grievance that could affect stakeholders and/or the credibility and effectiveness of the program, with every submission treated seriously and addressed in a reasonable time frame.
For the purposes of this document:
- Allegation: an initial claim or assertion that someone has done something wrong, which may or may not be supported by evidence
- Corrective Action: includes both mitigating and preventative actions (remediation)
- Grievance: general expression of dissatisfaction with a situation, activity, behavior or a more specific and serious feeling of wrongdoing that relates to harassment, discrimination or another abuse (i.e. conflict, corruption, human rights violation, etc.)
- Respondent: party against whom the grievance is submitted
- Source: source of grievance (complainant)
Grievance Scope Determinations
RMI considers the following when confirming that complaints received are in-scope:
- Entity (RMI, smelter/refiner on RMAP Conformant or Active List, RMI-approved audit firm or auditor)
- Relationship between RMI program or standard scope and grievance topic
- Timing/age of issue
The RMI reserves the right to not undertake a grievance review if the grievance is determined to be out of scope at the time of the submission (older than three years, beyond the scope of the RMI and its operations, etc.). The RMI reserves the right not to pursue the matter further if at any point during the review process it becomes evident that the grievance is out of scope. Matters not pertaining to the RMI grievance mechanism scope outlined above and/or legal challenges that are typically handled through the judicial system/legal processes are outside the RMI purview and considered out of scope. The RMI will not consider grievances that appear to have been made with a malicious intent and/or for the purposes of financial gain and/or business competition.
Other Grievance Options
The RMI encourages direct submission of grievances to the primary entity responsible for the grievance and requires all auditees (e.g. for the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP)) to have a grievance mechanism in place. The RMI encourages submission of grievances directly with the involved party where this can be done without significant concern for reprisal. Ideally, the grievance resolution process should start with bilateral discussions, use of ombudsman, or use of another type of mediation to discuss and attempt to resolve issues before lodging a formal grievance.
The RMI may request evidence demonstrating that all reasonable alternative measures with the party named in the grievance have been pursued in good faith before a formal grievance was launched. Examples of alternative tools which may be relevant include the OECD National Contact Point, LBMA, RJC and DMCC Complaints and Whistleblowing processes, etc.
Anonymous Reporting and Whistleblower Protections
The RMI’s grievance mechanism allows for anonymous reporting of grievances. For anonymous submissions, contact information is not required, and only the comments section should be filled out. While providing contact information is encouraged, as it allows for further follow up during the grievance resolution process, anonymous submissions will be investigated in the same manner as all other submissions.
Whistleblower protections, including maintaining confidentiality of the source upon request and treating such submissions in a confidential and sensitive manner, unless disclosure is required by law, will be offered to those individuals who disclose concerns pursuant to this policy provided the disclosure is made in good faith, and in the reasonable belief of the occurrence of serious malpractice or wrongdoing.
Whistleblowers who disclose information in good faith will be protected irrespective of the quality of the evidence provided or the outcome of any review or subsequent investigation undertaken by RMI. The identity of the whistleblower if shown on any submitted documents will be removed by the RMI.
An exception to the above will be necessary if the source is required to be disclosed as part of a legal process under the relevant laws. In these cases, effort will be made to protect the source from retaliation in collaboration with the relevant authorities, and in conformity with national and international procedures that may apply.
RMI Grievance Process
Stakeholders can utilize the webform on the RMI website’s grievance mechanism webpage to raise a grievance or allegation. All grievances are reviewed and entered into the internal log. Grievances related to cross-recognized facilities on the RMI’s conformant list should be raised with the appropriate organization (i.e., LBMA, RJC) in addition to the RMI. These grievances will be referred to RMI staff managing the cross-recognition program and the lead standard/auditing program in question. In-scope grievances pertaining to facilities recognized by the RMI will be referred to the RMI Operations Team for review and resolution and escalated to the Independent Review Committee (IRC) as necessary. Grievances involving RMI staff and operations will be escalated to leadership of the RMI or the Responsible Business Alliance. The RMI aims to investigate grievances in a fair, balanced, and transparent manner and to resolve the issues efficiently and effectively.
Independent Review Committee (IRC)
The IRC is an independent body whose role is to review and issue a determination on appeals to an RMAP decision. The IRC meets as necessary when an auditee disagrees with the RMAP determination, or when the auditor and quality control process come to a standstill. All reviews made by the IRC must be done by quorum determined by majority representation of IRC members. Any voting IRC member shall not have a direct commercial relation with the auditee or auditor and, if so, must abstain from the review of the given report.
A response will be sent to the source following receipt of the grievance as well as upon closure of the grievance, if contact information is provided upon submission of the grievance (additional communications may be sent at specific milestones). The RMI may in some cases develop member communications and/or make public statements regarding grievances, this will depend on the nature of the issue and full respect and protection for the complainant.
Members of the Responsible Minerals Initiative will be kept informed of in-scope grievances received and their status, in line with the Anonymous Reporting and Whistleblower Protections, including through a bi-annual summary report out. The RMI will report publicly on the number of grievances received and their status through the Annual Report.
In cases where the grievance is made against a facility on the RMI Conformant List, follow-up actions include the following:
- If a cross-recognized entity, contacting the cross-recognized partner organization for action/ response.
- Assessing the credibility and validity of allegations (may include the use of third parties and review of previously collected information).
- Assessing actions being taken by the respondent in response to the grievance, including corrective actions that mitigate and prevent future occurrences.
- Assessing the resolution of the grievance by the respondent (may include onsite verification)
As outlined above, the RMI promotes continuous improvement and will make every reasonable effort to engage with respondents to improve conditions prior to terminating relationships. However insufficient actions and/or information could result in removal of the facility from the conformant list. The RMI will additionally encourage the respondent to transparently provide a public statement and/or demonstrate through additional assessments or processes their commitment to best practices and due diligence.
The RMI may raise issues to the RMI Steering Committee for discussion and recommendations.
Lessons Learned and Continuous Improvement
On an annual basis, the RMI will generate a list of trends, lessons learned and recommend changes to standards, procedures, systems, and cross-recognition programs, for discussion with RMI leadership, members, and other relevant stakeholders.