Getting the go-ahead

In order to achieve the social licence to operate, engaging local communities and identifying risks are must-dos.

The importance of stakeholder engagement to Lafarge was established in 2003, when reference was made to it in its core values, the Principles of Action. Of course, stakeholder engagement was present in the group before this: as an international group, Lafarge SA had operations around the world manufacturing cement, aggregates and ready-mixed concrete. At such a scale, there were many opportunities to interact with stakeholders. However, 2003 marked the moment when the group recognised the importance of developing a common approach to the topic, starting with its cement division.

This product line was chosen due to its larger operational footprints and proximity to the necessary mineral raw materials, usually in more rural areas.  The group also recognised that many of the challenges related to the licence to operate involved cement plants. These could be related to environmental performance, although social issues such as local employment and leveraging local development were becoming increasingly linked with the licence. Engagement by operations in other product-lines increased as well, usually through more local initiatives.

Chris Ettery

Chris worked for Lafarge for 14 years, initially in its UK operations before spending the last seven years at its corporate office in Paris, where he was responsible for the group’s stakeholder engagement programme as the international communications director. Before joining Lafarge, Chris worked in the UK and Australia.