Welcome to the TSSS Series on Canadian Women in CSR. Learn about their journeys, discover what inspires them and explore how they’re making a difference through their careers in sustainability. Please follow the link to read about other exceptional Canadian Women in CSR.
TSSS: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Nadine Gudz: I joined Interface in December 2007 as Director, Sustainability Strategy after years of working in environmental policy, planning and education across academic, NGO and government sectors.. I serve on the management team of Interface’s Canadian business operations as well as the Interface Americas Sustainability Council. I drive the Interface Mission Zero journey to eliminate any negative impact the company might have on the environment by 2020 through strategic partnerships, thought leadership, organizational development, education and training.
TSSS: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?
NG: Sustainability is a journey and a mindset at Interface as opposed to a “program.” This lens transcends all aspects of the global business. Interface’s journey began in 1994 when Interface Founder, Ray C. Anderson, began to rethink the purpose of Interface and ask new questions like: “I want to know what we’ll need to do to make our company a restorative enterprise. To put back more than we take from the earth and to do good for the earth, not just no harm. How do we leave the world better with every square yard of carpet we make and sell?” Interface has been experimenting with notions of restorative enterprise for many years and by no means has all the answers. That said, we were so excited to launch Net-Works™ last year, which is only the first step in creating a truly restorative loop in carpet production, cleaning up oceans and beaches while also creating financial opportunities for some of the poorest, most vulnerable ecological and human communities in the world.
Net-Works™ is a global partnership between Interface, Aquafil (our yarn supplier), 26 villages in the Danajon Bank region of the Philippines, Project Seahorse (marine conservation organization) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The initiative aspires to be restorative by creating opportunities for communities to build local economies that are socially and ecologically beneficial based on three core elements: protecting at-risk environments, helping villagers establish new financial opportunities by providing an additional income stream, and supporting the creation of community banking.
This is an effort to redesign our supply/value chain in such a way that Interface gains a new stream of high-value recycled material for our carpet and increased access to recycled materials. This is not charity or a one-time beach clean up. Through Net-Works™ used fishing nets are collected and sold through community banking systems set up for local residents. Offering financial solutions to disenfranchised communities helps mitigate the poverty that drives overfishing and allows ecosystems to regenerate. Helping to create community savings accounts provides new investment opportunities, such as education, that promote self-sufficiency and have long-term benefits for the community.
TSSS: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey and how.
NG: I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to work with Interface founder Ray Anderson and be a part of his hero’s journey. I remember feeling so nervous the first time I met him and I was truly amazed by how quickly he put my nerves at ease. I struggle to find words to describe his leadership, but terms like “magic” and “genius” come to mind. His humble heart, visionary mind and transformative legacy continue to inspire me (and many others!)
Octogenarian, leadership coach and Interface grandmother, Marj Barlow continues to inspire, coach and mentor me. She is a bright light in the world and her positive approach to human development helps keep me on track during challenging times.
TSSS: Can you share a recent accomplishment that you’re especially proud of?
NG: I am thrilled to be collaborating with the International Living Future Institute (ILFI)’s inaugural legacy project in Portland, Oregon as part of the Institute’s annual un-conference.
Later in June, I am also delighted to be collaborating with the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) on their second legacy project as part of the Building Lasting Change national conference.
NG: A perfect day would include opportunities to spend time outdoors, strategize with innovative thinkers and leverage my creativity. I am thankful that my work allows for many soul-satisfying days.
To read about other exceptional Canadian Women in CSR, please follow this link.