Our stakeholder engagement

Our active engagement with our diverse stakeholders helps us identify significant and material issues – ensuring that our sustainability approach remains focused and on track. We aim to better understand our stakeholders' legitimate needs and concerns. These are addressed through collaborating with our stakeholders to identify and develop practical solutions, facilitating shared value creation.

 Project affected communities
Why we engage Value created

We maintain our social licence to operate through mutually beneficial relationships with PACs. These relationships help us better understand their legitimate needs and concerns. In turn, it supports our ability to address their needs and facilitate shared value creation.

We consider all feedback received from engaging with our PACs when determining our CSI strategy and our decision-making processes. We respond to PAC concerns timeously. Employees who are permitted to engage with our PACs are qualified and receive PAC engagement training. This ensures each response and interaction is appropriate. Our goal is to facilitate transparent communication between our operations and their PACs – thereby extending our licence to operate and ensuring value creation.

For more information on how we create value for our PACs, refer to our social pillars.

How we engage

We engage with PACs through our operations’ stakeholder consultation framework. This allows us to regularly and meaningfully engage, as well as demonstrate respect for the traditions and cultures of peoples in our PACs. We use stakeholder feedback received through the framework in operational and Group decision-making.

PACs at Letšeng elect community representatives to communicate with our CSI department. This creates a sustainable and culture-sensitive link between communities and the mine. Community representatives participate in quarterly CSI sub-committee meetings, which facilitate discussions about CSI projects and their effectiveness, as well as PAC member employment. These meetings also serve as a platform for community issues to be heard and addressed. Letšeng's community liaison officer (CLO) regularly visits and engages with government and communities and their leaders. The CLO is involved in our community projects and tailors their involvement to the project's maturity.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, we continued to engage with PACs through established and enhanced forums in a safe and responsible manner. All in-person visits and mass meetings had to be postponed in 2020 as a result of COVID- 19-related gathering restrictions. We used other forms of engagement with our communities, such as virtual meetings and increased telephonic communications directly with PAC leadership and councillors.

We signed a mining lease agreement with the Lesotho Government in 2019 stipulating that a minimum of LSL5 million must be spent on CSI activities every year from 2020. We decided to adopt rolling five-year CSI cycles. The cycle started with our 2020 community needs analysis. To conduct the analysis, we had extensive consultations with communities and their leaders to align their priorities with our current and future initiatives.

The abovementioned engagement strategies at the Letšeng mine are more advanced than Ghaghoo’s. This is partially because the Letšeng mine has been operating for many years and because the Ghaghoo mine was placed on care and maintenance. This decision resulted in a significant scaling back of all investments connected with the mine, but our on-site employees continued engaging with Ghaghoo’s PACs about their concerns.

COVID-19 engagements with our PACs
While COVID-19, and the associated lockdowns, severely hampered our CSI plans, we focused instead on addressing the immediate needs of our PACs during the pandemic.

The lockdowns had a profound effect on food security in our communities. We distributed approximately 1 000 food parcels to needy villagers at a community ceremony hosted by the Lesotho Minister of Health. The recipients included the elderly, child-headed households and HIV/Aids orphans. Multiple PPE safety kits were also distributed to Letšeng villages. These kits included masks, soap, tippy taps and hand sanitisers.

 Employees Why we engage Value created

Our organisation's strength lies in the quality of the people we employ. Addressing and understanding their needs helps us attract and retain top talent.

Through continual engagement, we ensure that our employees feel heard and that any legitimate concern can be addressed. This supports a culture where individuals feel that they are valued, thus adding to job satisfaction and the creation of a high-performance culture.

Refer to our employee pillars for our approach to employee matters during 2020.

How we engage

Our employees and contractors make it possible to run our operations and execute our strategy. Our strength lies in the quality of the people who work at our operations. To attract and retain top talent, we must understand and address their needs. We use a variety of engagement techniques including both formal and informal daily engagements. We encourage employees to approach one another to discuss important matters through our behaviour-based campaign. We also use visible felt leadership visits to engage with employees. Line management visits one site a week to engage with employees at their workplace, giving them an opportunity to inform management of their concerns.

Formal engagement involves toolbox talks and annual employee surveys. Our organisational health index survey enables us to understand employees' needs and meet them through targeted initiatives. Our annual culture and engagement survey measures workplace culture, which enables the Board to explore the collective experience within the organisation and the prevalent patterns of behaviour. Metrics are in place to link the outcomes of each survey to our values and determine areas for future focus.

We use our regular toolbox talks and other employee engagement forums to encourage small groups to openly engage together. Human resource officers or health and safety representatives communicate the issues raised to management. We also make use of the quarterly Letšeng newsletter, Company intranet and our website to communicate Company relevant information to our team.

In summary, most employees needs and concerns centre around fair treatment and remuneration; safe working conditions during COVID-19; opportunities for advancement; health and safety; and skills development.

Virtual engagement  with our employees during COVID-19
Due to social distancing requirements and lockdown, there was an increased use of electronic communications and virtual meetings. Head office leadership was unable to physically visit the mining operations due to travel restrictions and had to use virtual engagement channels.

In July 2020, Mazvi Maharasoa held a virtual workforce engagement session with a representative group of employees at Letšeng mine to explain the role of the designated non-Executive Director responsible for employee engagement and to understand the key workforce concerns. The engagement indicated an appetite for increased engagement between the designated non-Executive Director and the workforce as well as some operational concerns, which are as a matter of course dealt with during daily toolbox talks. Further clarification is required regarding the distinction between the Group Board and the Letšeng Board, and the function and purpose of the whistleblowing hotline. As a result, the Board directed a summary of the role of the designated non-Executive Director, together with the matters raised and the actions taken, which were published in the quarterly Letšeng newsletter.

 Governments Why we engage Value created

We understand that securing our licence to operate relies heavily on maintaining positive and mutually beneficial relationships with host country governments. These relationships also allow us to align our goals with those of our host countries.

Our vision to make a meaningful and sustainable contribution to our host countries builds our reputation with government and strengthens our licence to operate.

By ensuring the protection and well-being of our employees (98% Lesotho nationals) and contractors; by playing an active role in community COVID-19 prevention initiatives, as well as our participation in multiple social upliftment projects, help strengthen our relationships with the Lesotho Government.

How we engage

We regularly engage with governments of our host countries. We collaborate with local Government and community leaders and consult with government departments on various business elements, ranging from local procurement to community projects.

COVID-19 engagements with Government
We partnered with the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Ministry of Health to raise awareness regarding COVID-19 and distribute PPE and sanitiser in 10 villages in the neighbouring Mokhotlong district. Training and support programmes were rolled out to educate the workforce and surrounding communities on COVID-19, the correct use of PPE, and the importance of social distancing and proper hygiene. In total, 48 community health workers were trained to lead the programmes in the surrounding communities. At a national level, Letšeng supplied appropriate PPE and donated a four-room mobile structure to the Ministry of Health to use as a COVID-19 testing lab in Maseru.

 Our clients Why we engage Value created

Our clients comprise diamonteers and other high-end rough and polished diamond buyers. They are crucial to our value chain, and because of this, we need to understand their needs and views to better market our brand and products to meet these requirements.

Our interaction with clients allows for personalised feedback. We can appropriately respond to their needs, suggestions and recommendations. It also helps us secure recurring business.

Refer to our governance and ethics section for information on our approach to client relationships.

How we engage

Our engagement with clients starts at the onset of the relationship. All Gem Diamonds' clients undergo a screening process, and trade with us is by invitation only. During the screening, we vet potential clients through internal anti-money laundering protocols and 'know your client' reviews to ensure they comply with regulatory requirements.

Follow-up engagements include one-on-one interaction, website communication and press releases.

Part of our client engagement is how we position our brand because attracting appropriate clients is essential to us.

COVID-19 engagements with our customers
Our sales and marketing team experienced enormous challenges with COVID-19 restrictions, especially with exporting diamonds out of Lesotho and Africa (particularly between March and May) and holding tenders. Alternative tender viewing measures were implemented, such as sending customers a technical analysis report and viewing gems virtually versus physically. 

Diamonds are an emotional purchase; many purchasers want to know that their diamond adds value in the countries where they were recovered. As a result, we have also implemented blockchain technology in our sales process because origin testing has become an essential part of the sale to the end purchaser – each diamond registered as a rough diamond is then tracked and certified with an origin number.

 Providers of capital Why we engage Value created

We are able to fund business growth through our providers of capital, meaning they remain a critical part of our business model. Understanding their diverse needs is essential for us to generate the capital we need.

We grow our business through sustaining relationships with our providers of capital. In turn, they have the opportunity to generate a sustainable financial return on their investment. Refer to our financial and operational pillar for more information.

How we engage

Our providers of capital include investors and funders. We engage with them through one-on-one interaction, website communication and press releases. Our Annual Reports, Sustainable Development Reports, and Annual General Meeting are all ways we regularly engage with providers of capital.

COVID-19 engagements with our providers of capital
Our 2020 AGM was run as a closed meeting to comply with COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings. We ensured regular discussions were held about the pandemic's impact on our operations and various mitigating actions implemented by our team. We also ensured that frequent discussions were held on balancing our capital allocation. Refer to our Annual Report for more information.