Behind the scenes of LafargeHolcim’s Human Rights Management Approach

1 January 2019

Upholding the human rights of stakeholders has become a ‘hot topic’ in recent years. In this context of increased awareness on the part of companies, LafargeHolcim implements its own Human Rights Management Approach. Following our Human Rights Directive, all LafargeHolcim companies are required to conduct periodic human rights assessments and implement effective follow-up actions for the risks identified.


Committed to respecting international human rights and labor standards

LafargeHolcim is committed to respecting international human rights standards, including the principles contained within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the International Labour Organizations (ILO) Core Conventions on Labour Standards. Additionally, LafargeHolcim is signatory of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact.

LafargeHolcim proactively manages human rights through its Human Rights Management Approach, supported by an internal Human Rights Directive which outlines the mandatory requirements for all LafargeHolcim country operations. Our group-wide human rights management approach is risk based and fully aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (Ruggie Principles).

Step 1: Risk Categorization of Operating Environments

categorization human rights


All operating countries are classified according to potential business risk, using the UN Human Development Index (HDI) and the Freedom House (FH) Index as reference points:

  • High Risk: FH rating “not free” or HDI < 0.70
  • Medium Risk: FH rating “partly free” and HDI < 0.79
  • Low Risk: FH rating “free” and HDI ≥ 0.79

Group companies operating in high-risk countries, and companies where an incident has occurred, are required to conduct a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA). All other countries conduct a Human Rights Self-Assessment (HRSA).


Step 2: Periodic Assessment of Local Human Rights Impacts

periodic assessments human rights


Both types of human rights assessment cover at least the following 14 human rights indicators that are based on international standards and relate to our employment practices and community impacts. Depending on the local context, more indicators can be defined by the country team and added to the assessment:


  • Child labor
  • Forced labor
  • Freedom of Association
  • Non-discrimination
  • Working conditions
  • Minimum wage
  • Health & Safety
  • Contract Workers
  • Community impact (e.g. on the environment, health, livelihood, etc.)
  • Land management
  • Security guards
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Support of armed actors
  • Grievance mechanisms

Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA)

Each HRIA begins with a risk-mapping workshop for the full local Executive Committee (ExCo). During the exercise, the ExCo members discuss and determine the materiality of each human right risk depending on the likelihood of a negative impact and the potential consequences for LafargeHolcim.

The key part of the impact assessment are extensive stakeholder consultations on site, which give employees, contractors, trade unions, community members, local authorities, and NGOs an opportunity to raise concerns. The consultations are conducted through confidential interviews and focus group discussions where participants are asked to identify risks and opportunities relating to employment conditions (including within contractors and suppliers) and community impacts.

After the consultations, the risks are prioritized based on the number of stakeholders mentioning the issue and potential risk for the company. For the risks prioritized as high and medium, recommendations are made and presented to the country CEO. Within one month, the local ExCo usually led by the CSR team develops a detailed action plan to make improvements based on the findings. The final assessment report and action plan are then shared with the regional Executive Committee member.

Human Rights Self-Assessment (HRSA)

The key part of the self-assessment is a half-day risk mapping and prioritization workshop where the full local Executive Committee participates. Led by the local CSR team, the ExCo members discuss and determine the materiality of 14 human rights indicators depending on the likelihood of a negative impact and the potential consequences for LafargeHolcim. Where issues are already managed well, with policies and procedures in place to prevent potential negative impacts, the prioritization of the risk will be lower. After the risk-mapping and prioritization exercise, the local ExCo together with the CSR team develop an action plan to address the identified high and medium human rights risks.


Step 3: Action Plan Implementation and Monitoring

action plan human rights


The country-level human rights action plans need to address the risks and seize the opportunities identified in our own operations and in our business relationships (e.g. supply chain). The implementation and progress of the action plans is monitored through the annual LafargeHolcim Stakeholder Questionnaire. The full human rights assessment process has to be repeated every three years.


LafargeHolcim’s Human Rights Management Approach is complemented by a global “Integrity Line,” a whistle-blowing mechanism enabling employees to report any integrity-related concerns in 38 languages. It is a safe, confidential way to report possible Code of Business Conduct violations or raise compliance-related questions.