Our pillars


We provide a safe environment to ensure the health and safety of our employees, their families and our surrounding communities.

We promote equality, diversity and professional development for employees at every business level, with attention to their physical and psychological well-being.

Related sustainability principles

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Optimising socio-economic benefit

Related UN SDGs

In 2022, we completed the final year of our first rolling three-year UN SDG cycle to embed the adopted goals into our systems, processes and decision-making.

The following UN SDGs relate to our employees pillar:


Refer to our Annual Report and Accounts 2022 and Our Approach to Climate Change Report 2022 for more information on our approach to integrating these UN SDGs into our business operations.

Snapshot of our performance

  • Zero fatalities (2021: zero)
  • Three LTIs (2021: six)
  • Lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR): 0.13 (2021: 0.24)
  • Gem Diamonds won the Junior ESG Award for Health & Safety at the 2022 Mining Indaba
  • All injury frequency rate (AIFR): 0.70 (2021: 0.93)
  • US$45.3 million spent on employee remuneration and benefits (2021: US$37.4 million)
  • Letšeng retained ISO 45001 certification (Occupational Health and Safety Management)
  • Women in senior management increased from 28% in 2021 to 38% in 2022
  • 72 697 proactive safety management actions (2021: 67 599)

Our goals

  • Implement our LetšGem employee communication platform.
  • Further advance employee engagement forums to provide meaningful outcomes.
  • Drive diversity and inclusion.

Our future

  • Focus on training and skills development.
  • Further develop our employee value proposition.
  • Enhance skills development and communication technology platforms.

Material Matters

Our context

The remote location of Letšeng contributes to its unique operating environment and occupational health and safety challenges. Our primary objective is to safeguard the health and safety of our employees and surrounding communities by integrating specialist knowledge, rigorous planning and exceptional leadership into a holistic health and safety risk management system that considers all stakeholders to embed a culture of zero harm.

Our approach

Our goal of zero harm is grounded in our belief that every injury is preventable and underpinned by a culture of care and accountability that is driven by each employee and advocated for by every leader. We not only classify a safety incident based on its impact on people or property but, more importantly, on its potential for impact or injury. Every safety incident and near miss must be reported and appropriately investigated to implement effective corrective actions and prevent future incidents.

Health and safety strategy and safety culture maturity journey – 2021 to 2023

The Bradley curve measures four phases of organisational safety culture maturity: “reactive”, “dependent”, “independent” and “interdependent”. As an organisation moves along the curve from reactive to interdependent, it marks progression from externally motivated compliance to internally motivated, team-driven commitment.

In 2022, Letšeng partnered with an external safety expert to assess organisational safety maturity as a foundation of our focused programme for safety performance improvement. The safety performance improvement strategy is aimed at progressing the organisational safety culture maturity along the Bradley curve to further embed a culture of zero harm with each employee at Letšeng. We conduct interim assessments to monitor the progress we are making and amend our occupational health and safety systems for appropriateness in relation to organisational safety maturity.

In partnership with subject matter experts, the following safety-focused programmes were implemented during 2022:

Leadership visibility and accountability

We implemented a management-specific leading indicator programme, monitored through the newly established Safety Committee. The Safety Committee members include senior management from Gem Diamonds and Letšeng, and subject matter experts (internal and external) are invited as appropriate. Our coaching programme partners senior site management with leading safety experts for mentorship on interdependent safety culture, effectively identifying risks and mitigating against industrial blindness.

We developed a training programme for our health, safety and environmental (HSE) representatives, supervisors and line managers, focused on embedding effective safety leadership and the principle of being one’s “brother’s keeper”. During 2022, we invited external safety experts to join our visible felt leadership engagements and identify opportunities to bolster the effectiveness of these sessions, including walkabout inspections, toolbox talks and over inspections.

Safety compliance

We take a firm stand against non-compliance, with high safety standards for employees, contractors and sub-contractors. During 2023, we relaunched our Life Saving Rules – a set of critical safety parameters – and implemented a Just Culture Procedure to drive accountability and consequence management for non-compliance with safety rules and procedures. We established a recognition and reward programme to recognise individuals and teams who live the culture of zero harm and elevate learnings throughout the organisation. In 2022, our TSF management contractor was recognised for achieving 11 LTI-free years, and our mining contractor achieved two LTI-free years.

Critical control management

In 2022, key employees completed a critical control management programme through the University of Queensland. The learnings from this programme were leveraged to design a critical control strategy for the Letšeng mine. The two-year strategy analyses the critical safety risks and controls at the operation to mitigate these risks. Through the strategy, we are analysing existing controls to focus efforts and resources on bolstering the effectiveness of critical controls to prevent risks from becoming incidents. The Letšeng operation focused on two risks in the mining operations in 2022: equipment loss of control, and fall of ground.

Our performance

  • Zero fatalities (2021: zero).
  • Gem Diamonds received the Junior ESG Award for Health & Safety at the 2022 Mining Indaba for its Stop for Safety campaign during 2021, which was led by senior executives and targeted the root cause of safety incidents.
  • AIFR: 0.70 (2021: 0.93).
  • Three LTIs across the Group during 2022 (2021: six), resulting in a Group-wide LTIFR of 0.13 (2021: 0.24).
  • Zero restricted work injuries across the Group during 2022 (2021: one).
  • ISO 45001 certification retained at Letšeng.

Our context

Skills shortages in the mining sector – exacerbated by our remote location, as we strive to recruit and employ locally – elevate our focus on being an employer of choice. Gem Diamonds invests considerable resources in attracting and retaining talent, skills, expertise and experience through an enhanced employee value proposition.

Our approach

Our strength is in the quality of our people. To attract and retain talented individuals, we continually seek to understand and address employee needs, offer market-related salaries, cultivate a supportive working environment and offer career development opportunities.

Employee value proposition

We continually review our employee value proposition (EVP). In 2022, the Board reviewed the makeup of the EVP, finding it to be fit for purpose. Letšeng remains an employer of choice in Lesotho, and we see a consistently low turnover rate throughout the Group.

In 2023, the Board will examine how the Group’s compensation and benefit programmes consider employee needs beyond fair and equitable remuneration, and whether there are additional human capital matters which ought to fall under its remit.

Recruitment to support localisation policies

Lesotho’s small population is an ongoing challenge in terms of our ability to successfully pursue our succession planning, diversity and localisation goals. We continue to find ways to broaden our recruitment pool. In 2022, we extended the reach of our recruitment practices via an online recruitment platform to reach Lesotho nationals who reside outside the country. When we note long-term skills shortages in specialist fields, we tailor our scholarship programme to address these shortages in the longer term.


The Board is increasingly focused on the diversity of the Gem Diamonds workforce and consequent measures to enhance inclusion, with gender diversity being a matter for particular attention. Lesotho’s small population, Letšeng’s remote location, and historical attitudes to the role of women in the workplace – specifically within the mining industry – challenge our ability to increase the representation of women.

Despite this, initiatives implemented in 2021 and 2022 have started to bear fruit:

  • We focus on the female experience in the workplace to identify and address potential barriers to promotion, retention and advancement.
  • We make it clear in our recruitment campaigns that we encourage female applications and support female candidates.
  • We appointed a bias challenger to our interview panels who monitors possible unconscious bias during the process.

As a result, the representation of women in senior management increased from 28% in 2021 to 38% in 2022.

In 2022, we reviewed our Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Policy to identify initiatives that could encourage diverse appointments. Several initiatives are planned for 2023 to support this drive:

  • We will schedule unconscious bias training for interviewers.
  • We will hold talks at local schools to inform young women of the roles available for them in mining and the possibility of pursuing careers in subjects like mining and engineering.
  • We will institute mentorship opportunities for women in the organisation.
  • We will include a rotational component in our development programmes so that women are exposed to different areas of the mine.


We recognise that competitive remuneration plays a significant role in attracting and retaining qualified people. We provide market-related remuneration without discrimination based on race or gender, and ensure that our lowest-graded employees are remunerated above the minimum wage of the host country. As Lesotho and Botswana do not prescribe a minimum wage for the mining sector, we use the construction industry wage guidelines as the standard. We also ensure that minimum requirements for remuneration are stipulated in our labour contracts.

In total, none of the workforce at Letšeng was compensated at the operation’s minimum wage in 2022 (2021: 9.9%). In 2022, the lowest-graded permanent employees at Letšeng received 11% above the construction sector’s minimum wage (2021: 55.6%). Other Gem Diamonds employees are remunerated above the minimum wage in line with market-related rates.

We provide benefits and incentives over and above basic remuneration to attract and retain top talent. Incentives retain key individuals through performance-based bonuses and long-term share awards.

Our Committees at Group and subsidiary levels review current remuneration policies, skills and succession planning. Furthermore, we include non-financial metrics in employee and leadership scorecards in line with our sustainability goals. Refer to the Remuneration Report in our Annual Report and Accounts 2022 for more information.

Of our permanent workforce at Letšeng, 100% of employees subscribe to the mandatory Company retirement provision scheme (2021: 93%). Letšeng contributes 7.5% (2021: 7.5%) of employees’ annual salaries to this scheme, and employees contribute 7.5% (2021: 7.5%). Fixed-term contract employees are not eligible for this benefit but are paid a fixed-term contract allowance at 20% (2021: 20%) of their basic salary. Employees at our Ghaghoo mine receive a statutory gratuity payment upon contract completion, equal to 15% (2021: 15%) of the basic monthly salary for each month of employment.

South Africa and London-based employees are remunerated on a cost-to-company basis, enabling them to elect their retirement schemes and contributions. At our Belgian operations, employees contribute 25% of their salaries to a mandatory government retirement scheme (2021: 25%).

Our performance

  • 362 employees (2021: 353) and 1 172 contractor employees (2021: 1 305) at year end.
  • The average number of employees was 371 (2021: 354), and the average number of contractor employees was 1 241 (2021: 1 317).
  • US$45.3 million was spent on employee wages, benefits and incentives (2021: US$37.4 million).
  • The Group-wide absenteeism rate was 1.3 days per person (2021: 4.5 days).
  • 4.8% Group-wide voluntary staff turnover (2021: 2.3%).
  • Zero cases of discrimination were recorded (2021: zero).
Employee demographics Gender Localisation Age
2022 Male Female Local
<30 31-50 >50
Board 71 29 43 0 0 100
Senior management 62 38 92 0 54 46
Middle management 78 22 98 5 83 12
Total 78 22 98 7 79 14
2021 Male Female Local <30 31-50 >50
Board 71 29 43 0 0 100
Senior management 72 28 100 0 67 33
Middle management 79 21 89 6 75 19
Total 78 22 98 7 76 17

Our context

To remain competitive, we require exceptional people. While we invest in recruiting specialist skills as required, we also empower Gem Diamonds employees to further their careers by providing learning and development opportunities.

Our approach

Training and development

We invest in the training and development of our employees, identifying skills shortages to implement relevant development programmes and focused succession planning. We train and develop our employees through various internal and external programmes and have a well-established mentorship culture. Employees have clear development plans that incorporate key competencies. These plans are monitored regularly with annual performance reviews to ensure our people are engaged and meet business objectives.

Existing training and development continued for all Gem Diamond employees in 2022, and we worked to identify opportunities to enhance these processes and improve ease of access to training platforms.

We introduced a comprehensive managers’ development programme to address gaps in the standard development pathway. Managers went through a detailed assessment process where gaps were identified, and specific, targeted and personalised interventions were established to address these gaps for hard and soft skills.

The process yielded valuable lessons in how development programmes can best be structured, allowing resources to be efficiently allocated and employees to control their development pathway.

Succession planning

We continued to work to ensure that our succession planning processes are correctly focused. Issues of skills allocation, resource allocation and succession planning are integrated with the mine plan and holistically considered by the Board.

Internship programme

Our internship programme, established in 2009, focuses on offering practical field experience for new graduates. To date, we have interned 48 graduates of our scholarship programme and offered 53% of these interns permanent employment.

Our performance

  • Senior management training: 816 hours (2021: 209 hours).
  • Middle management training: 4 848 hours (2021: 4 503 hours).
  • Non-management training: 19 264 hours (2021: 28 982 hours).
  • Employee career reviews performed: 9% (2021: 14%).
  • • 16% of female employees received career reviews (2021: 20%).
  • 10% of male employees received career reviews (2021: 11%).

Our context

Improving employee health and wellness increases morale, reduces absenteeism and enhances productivity. As our mines are in extreme locations with limited public infrastructure, we rely on our on-site clinics to provide the necessary emergency, occupational and primary healthcare for our employees. We also provide access to tailored counselling and engagement programmes to help employees prioritise mental well-being.

Our approach

We strive to provide an environment that actively encourages and supports employee well-being and healthy lifestyles. Effective safety policies and processes reduce risks, strengthen our relationships with employees and regulators, and safeguard the Group’s social licence to operate.

All new employees complete a full medical examination during induction. Similarly, when an employee departs, we perform an exit medical examination.

Our primary healthcare and total occupational disease cases were slightly higher than in 2021. No cases of malaria or cholera were reported at our operations for the fifth consecutive year.

An enhanced physical and mental health programme supports our workforce in coping with additional pressures, with employee wellness services and counsellors available to all employees.


Since we commenced our COVID-19 response and prevention plan at the end of Q1 2020, the Group has invested US$1.8 million towards detecting and preventing infection.

Letšeng’s vaccination rate is 99.9%. One employee remains unvaccinated based on a medical exemption. The high vaccination rate and reduced risk of infection guided the Group to review testing and screening protocols. While vaccination remains mandatory for access to the Letšeng mine, screening has been revised to symptom-based testing. Protocols will continue to be adjusted based on changing regulations, number of infections and risk to employees and business continuity.

Our performance

  • Fully equipped clinic at Letšeng to deal with on site and occupational medical needs.
  • 100% pre-employment medical examination rate at Letšeng (2021: 100%).
  • 100% exit medical examination rate at Letšeng (2021: 100%).
  • Increase in occupational health cases to 430 (2021:348).
  • 3 617 serious disease prevention and management interventions (2021: 7 232).

Our context

We seek to maintain and consistently improve engagement and communication with our workforce to understand their needs and challenges and to enhance workforce relations.

Our approach

Frequent engagement and communication is critical to cultivating a collaborative working environment that facilitates the development and retention of employees. Our approach to employee engagement continues to evolve in line with best practice and our unique circumstances.

We aim to address employee grievances swiftly and to proactively engage with our employees and their elected representatives to facilitate this.

Our management team frequently engages with our workforce through multiple forums, including daily toolbox talks, weekly visible felt leadership visits, town hall meetings and newsletters.

We maintain a freedom of association policy, and our employees can join unions and other collective bargaining organisations.

We have established policies and procedures to guide our operations, which are based on our detailed change management system and the host country’s legislation. We ensure that our employees are notified of significant or material changes to the operations or working environments through these policies and procedures.

Employee Engagement Committee

Detailed engagement with our workforce occurs primarily through our newly formed Employee Engagement Committee, which meets throughout the year. Employee representatives contribute mine-wide issues to the agenda ahead of time, and the resulting discussions, and any matters brought from the floor, are reported verbatim to the Board for consideration. The Board monitors actions put in place by management to address identified issues.

The Employee Engagement Committee meetings are chaired by Mazvi Maharasoa, a non-Executive Director. The format has proven successful, with initiatives such as LetšGem arising directly from issues raised within the forum.

The following issues were raised through the Committee:

  • A request for additional communications channels (refer to our LetšGem case study).
  • A request for clarification of the whistleblowing process, resulting in an awareness roadshow to explain how to use the hotline, how matters are addressed and how anonymous statistics are reported.
  • A request for additional recreational capacity at the mine aligned with planning for the construction of the recreation centre.

The Chair of the Remuneration Committee also attended a session and spoke about how executive remuneration aligns with the wider Company pay policy.

Our performance

  • Zero strikes or lockouts were recorded in 2022 (2021: zero).
  • Instituted the Employee Engagement Committee process.
  • Launched the LetšGem employee communication platform.