Women’s Forum 2015: affordable housing and gender diversity

Women’s Forum 2015: affordable housing and gender diversity

As a partner of the Women’s Forum, LafargeHolcim hosted a session at the 2015 edition of the Global Meeting, held in France on October 15. Introduced by CEO Eric Olsen, this session gave an update on two key areas of focus for the Group: our partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD) on affordable housing and gender diversity.


Did you know?

LafargeHolcim is an official partner of the Women’s Forum, an international platform founded in 2005 looking at major social and economic issues from women’s perspectives. Every year in October, it organizes its Global Meeting in Deauville, France, which welcomes around 1,300 participants to give voice to leading women and men in politics, business, civil society and universities and discuss major issues in world events and gender diversity.

For the 2015 edition, a delegation of 23 women and 5 men from LafargeHolcim will participate in the event, attend conferences and meet leading women and men to discuss women’s contribution to society and business. 

LafargeHolcim was born 3 months ago to address the challenges of a new world and create shared value with society. To support this aspiration, LafargeHolcim hosted a session called "Gimme shelter: Narrowing the affordable housing gap in the world’s cities" during this year’s edition of the Women’s Forum Global Meeting, which took place on October 14-16. 

In an introduction, Group CEO Eric Olsen explained why affordable housing is a global challenge and a key business priority for LafargeHolcim, as shown by the Group support to the World Habitat Day 2015 early October. “The challenge of providing housing for those living at the base of the economic pyramid is one of the biggest challenges of our times. Today, 1 billion people live in health and life threatening conditions, and this number will rise to more than 2 billion people by 2030 if we do not change the course of action”.

Eric Olsen also gave an overview of LafargeHolcim’s affordable housing approach and solutions to population growth and urbanization, which address access to financing, to construction assistance, to construction solutions and to quality materials.

The speakers for the session, experts François Perrot, Head of Affordable Housing at LafargeHolcim, and Aude Flogny, Deputy Director in charge of Operations in AFD, reflected on the approaches that could open affordable housing more and change the game. They also presented the LafargeHolcim-AFD partnership in Nigeria re-signed in July 2015, which allowed 10,000 people to benefit from 2,000 micro-loans for house construction.  


Gender diversity, a part of LafargeHolcim’s leadership ambitions

The presence of LafargeHolcim at the event was also an opportunity to insist on gender diversity as a key area of focus. As the new leader of the building materials industry, LafargeHolcim aspires to build a company with the best talents. This implies creating a work environment where men and women can thrive, based on the journey and actions already started by both legacy companies.

For Eric Olsen, “today, women are increasingly our clients, our suppliers and members of the government officials and local communities we interact with. In this changing world and as we are currently shaping our new company, I want women to be at the core of our organization - a real breakthrough in our traditionally masculine industry. Coming to the Women’s Forum Global Meeting is our way to show our commitment to take action and bring more gender diversity to the building materials industry.

LafargeHolcim’s Affordable housing solutions create opportunities for women

  • Access to microfinance: In Nigeria, we are in partnership with the AFD and the largest microfinance bank in the country, named LAPO, which has over 1 million members, of which 92 are women.
  • Materials distribution: In Nigeria, our cement supplied to build houses funded by microfinance, we leverage our network of key distributors, almost 30 of which are women.
  • Job opportunities and training in the construction industry: in order to create empowering job opportunities for women in our industry, we developed trainings for women masons who work in some of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, including Rocinha the largest favela in Latin America.  

You can find additional information on our projects on LafargeHolcim’s Affordable Housing Hub website and LinkedIn group. This community gathers a network of experts and partners, such as UN-Habitat, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Inclusive Business Action Network (IBAN).