Women in CSR – Canada: Carmen Turner, Teck Resources Ltd, Sustainability Leader


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.

Carmen Turner, Sustainability Leader at Teck Resources Ltd.

Carmen Turner, Sustainability Leader at Teck Resources Ltd.

Carmen Turner: I lead the sustainability reporting team at Teck Resources Limited. This includes the strategic oversight of reporting including our sustainability report, communications and engagement, responses to sustainability analysts and investors, participation on indexes and external commitments. It also includes supporting internal quarterly reporting for the committee of the Board that reviews and manages Health, Safety, Environment and Community risk, and supporting the implementation of the sustainability strategy. I have been at Teck for 8 years, and have lead 9 GRI-based reports, implemented the ICMM Sustainable Development Assurance framework and was part of the development of our sustainability strategy process. Before working at Teck I was a consultant, completed an MSc in Sustainability Leadership, and worked for CBSR. My undergraduate background is in Biology.

TSSS:  How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?

CT: The pace of change in sustainability in general, and in our industry in particular, is pretty mind boggling. We went from not making the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in 2007, to making the World Sustainability Index in 2010, to where we are today which is placing in the 97thpercentile of our industry in terms of sustainability. I was one of two employees to have Sustainability in my title when I first joined 8 years ago, and now there are many people working in sustainability at Teck. There are people whose main focus is sustainability (e.g. community, energy and GHG management experts) but also people who are incorporating sustainability into their jobs (e.g. supply chain managers, General Managers). Our strategy was developed by a working group of people from different senior roles in the company, who were identified as future leaders, and who went through an extensive sustainability training process. The sustainability group supported the technical areas and as a result of this process, ownership of the strategy was taken on by people all across the company. We have a strong commitment from our CEO and senior executives, and now our challenge is to further engage employees across the company so that they understand what the strategy means to Teck, to their roles within the company and how they can contribute. We need the support from people in middle management to help us understand any potential challenges or inconsistencies and to help us identify ways to break down these barriers; we need the people from our front lines to actively embrace our strategy and their roles within it so that we can achieve our collective goals. In summary, I can say we went from having no sustainability strategy when I joined in 2006, to our current reality of a formal sustainability strategy with 20 year and 5 year goals.

TSSS: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey and how.

CT: I have a lot of mentors and people who I respect and to whom I am eternally grateful for helping me along the way. Dr. Karl-Henrik Robert of the The Natural Step played a huge role in my life in terms of my initial awareness of what we mean by sustainability. I later went on to be part of his first MSc class at Blekinge University in Sweden and he was my thesis advisor. Dr. Goran Carsted, former CEO at Volvo and IKEA, has also been a real mentor and was gracious enough to come and speak at Teck before we embarked on our sustainability strategy process. He is a real thought leader and expert on organisational learning and change. And finally, Tony Kelly of the Centre for Social Response out of Australia. He is one of the leading experts on development and brought dialogue training to our communities work at Teck. He really helped me see what the social part of sustainability means and helped me appreciate that the professional practices of social scientists are now so needed in business; it’s where we were in terms of understanding the role of the environment in business 20 years ago.

TSSS: What is the best advice you have ever received?

CT:   When I first wanted to get into sustainability, I approached Dr. Karl-Henrik Robert at a panel at Globe about 12 years ago, and asked him how I could get into the field. He said to do sustainability in whatever it is I do! I am now a practitioner in sustainability, and I really believe the future will be about everyone understanding sustainability and how each of us can contribute to it.

TSSS: Can you share a recent accomplishment that you’re especially proud of?

CT: I am 100% most proud of being a mother and of my family. Nothing tops that accomplishment!

TSSS: If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?

CT: I think because we’re not directly consumer-facing, we’re often misunderstood, especially with regard to our role in society, how we contribute to society and the role our products will play in a sustainable future. Our industry has big impacts, both positive and negative, and it’s really about how you manage both risks and opportunities. In a way, we are part of the problem but we will also be part of the solution, so we all need to work together.

TSSS: What is a perfect day for me?Carmen Turner

CT: A perfect day definitely starts with an amazing coffee and sitting on my balcony for breakfast with my family overlooking Deep Cove in North Vancouver. It would definitely involve some activity with friends and my partner like a mountain bike ride, a trail run, surfing or snowboarding, then beach time with my little boy and then would probably end with a get together with friends for a bbq with great food, wine and a bonfire.

To read about other exceptional Canadian Women in CSR, please follow this link.