Why "critical friends"?

The expression "critical friend" has its origins in critical pedagogy education reforms in the 1970s. One of the most widely used definitions is that from Costa and Kallick ("Through the Lens of a Critical Friend", 1993) : "a critical friend can be defined as a trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through another lens, and offers critiques of a person's work as a friend.
A critical friend takes the time to fully understand the context of the work presented and the outcomes that the person or group is working toward. The friend is an advocate for the success of that work."
This term was once used by Alastair McIntosh, an independent scholar, activist and writer who is also a Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology (CHE) and a member of Lafarge's Stakeholder Panel, to define the role this panel played with Lafarge's Excom. Again, it defines perfectly well, in our opinion, the purpose of stakeholder engagement.


Why the rhino?

Like in business living in the wild can be hard. All animals want to do one thing: survive in the wild. Some get back on they own. But others, both large and small, know the best way to stay alive is to form a close partnership with other kinds of animals. Rhino or even crocodile and egret, caiman and butterfly, buffalo and cattle egret, impala and oxpecker, shark and pilot fish, moray eel and shrimp : at first glance, these teammates don't seem to make sense. If you look more closely, you'll soon learn that these animals help one another find food, shelter, and safety. They make the most of their various differences. These unlikely partners pair up to get the most out of life. These pairings  for success are called symbiotic relationships. In such a relationship, the animals  work together and depend on each other, for cleaning, finding food, etc. Both animals benefit, or get help, from living with the other animal.
To us, this is a wonderful symbol of corporate stakeholder engagement, the process by which a company involves "other species", people or organizations who may be affected by the decisions it makes or can influence their implementation. These people can be NGOs, clients, employees, suppliers, shareholders, local communities, etc. - who, at first glance, have other interests than those of the company. And the goal of stakeholder engagement is precisely to find out what social and environmental issues matter most to them about the company's activities, so as to improve its decision-making, performance and accountability.