Young women thrive in Lafarge South Africa’s gender equality climate

07 September 2015

After qualifying as a civil engineer, Pfariso Khorommbi was selected for the Lafarge South Africa training programme LAMP (Lafarge Aggregates Management Programme) and showed such good development potential that she was appointed a foreman at the company’s Coega Quarry, near Port Elizabeth. At the age of 26, she displays the vital characteristics for building a rewarding career: a passion for her chosen profession of engineering and a dedication to hard work.

Lafarge South Africa is one of the major manufacturers of building materials in Southern Africa and the local presence of the international Lafarge Group, a world leader in building materials.

One of the key elements in the Group’s wide-ranging sustainable development ambitions is the employment and development of women in the organisation to play a rightful and equitable role in the company’s growth.

Pfariso joined Lafarge South Africa in 2010 as an in-service trainee to obtain the experiential training necessary to qualify for her National Diploma in Civil Engineering. On achieving her diploma, the company offered her the opportunity in 2011 to join their LAMP programme.

She attributes her subsequent rapid rise to the challenging position of a foreman in the Quarry to Lafarge’s excellent development programmes and strong mentorship support. In this nurturing climate, her natural leadership talents have flourished. “One of life’s most important lessons that you quickly learn is that if you treat your staff with respect, they will respect you in return,” she says.

The position of foreman is a demanding one requiring Pfariso to show leadership and develop the interpersonal skills to create a productive team of workers, in response to the directives from management.

She has to use her initiative in planning and prioritising the work schedule, and exercising her authority to ensure her section’s targets are met. It is this aspect of authority that is so important for a young woman finding her way in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Authority is not merely granted to you; Pfariso has had to develop it as part of achieving the respect of her team. Lafarge provides the support and ensures she has the space to be her own person while becoming an effective fledgling manager.

Pfariso’s daily tasks involve allocating the necessary resources in the form of suitably trained employees and equipment to accomplish the planned work. Continual vigilance is required to monitor progress and she has to take decisive action to correct any problems that may be impacting the team’s performance. In this regard, Pfariso has to be able to alter the schedule to minimise downtime or assign workers to another section. Asserting herself in the predominantly male environment can be a very challenging but this dynamic young woman is taking it all in her stride.

“In my experience at Lafarge, men and women are not judged differently. We are all expected to perform to the same criteria and are rewarded equitably for the responsibilities that we have taken on,” comments Pfariso. “The company’s progressive support for women’s empowerment has enabled me to make an impact in a male-dominated industry.

I do not see myself being limited by the traditional ‘glass ceiling’ or being channelled into a ‘soft’ profession career path. Hard work and initiative is my route to higher management positions within the company.”

More information from Chantál Stewart, Tel: +27(0)11 657 0000 /

About Lafarge

A world leader in building materials, Lafarge employs 63,000 people in 61 countries, and posted sales of €12.8 billion in 2014. As a top-ranking player in its Cement, Aggregates and Concrete businesses, it contributes to the construction of cities around the world, through its innovative solutions providing them with more housing and making them more compact, more durable, more beautiful, and better connected.

With the world’s leading building materials research facility, Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its priorities in order to contribute to more sustainable construction and to better serve architectural creativity.

In South Africa, the company manufactures and supplies cement, aggregates, readymixed concrete, pulverised fly ash, gypsum plasterboard and interior building fittings through its various business units. It focuses on providing solutions to help the sustainable development of better cities that benefit the country’s people.

Through having a strong presence in all of its business lines, it is in a unique position to contribute to urban construction, while also helping to build better rural towns and villages.

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