May 2010

Women in Mining

Passion turned career: Goldcorp’s Valerie Pascale is making her mark on CSR

By H. Ednie

Annual Cultural Day celebrations at Goldcorp’s Éléonore site in Quebec are led by the local Cree communities. In 2009, Erin Rose (left) celebrated her walking-out ceremony on site, a Cree tradition that welcomes children into Cree society.

Valerie Pascale, now manager of corporate social responsibility (CSR) at Goldcorp, was looking to forge a successful career that enabled her to travel globally, influence policy development and work in strategic partnership-building and stakeholder engagement. “I was always interested in doing something in the field of international development, but you never know exactly where you’ll end up,” she says. With a background in international development and a wealth of experience with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Pascale turned her sights towards the mining industry and set down the path of a flourishing career.

Since graduating in International Development from the University of Guelph in 2005, Pascale has worked and volunteered with various NGOs in a variety of roles. She was a funding coordinator at Pueblito Canada, community catalyst for War Child Canada, and an event support worker for World Literacy Canada. She also managed an Aboriginal business development program called Project Beyshick through the P.O.A. Educational Foundation, and taught fair trade workshops to high school economics students at the Western Academy of Beijing.

Pascale started off in mining as a social impact management consultant with Hatch Associates in 2007. There, she worked with extractive industry companies to assess the potential impact of projects on local communities, identify partnership opportunities with stakeholder groups and develop socially responsible business practices for sustainable community development. Two years later, she made the move to Goldcorp.

“My role at Goldcorp was more suited to what I was looking for,” Pascale explains. “I felt I had done what I could at Hatch — it was a new area for the company when I started, and I had helped set up the structures and tools. I was getting a bit restless as a consultant and was interested in doing something more hands-on.”

“At Goldcorp, we’re building the framework and systems needed to foster an international corporate culture around CSR that is so widespread it drills down to the very roots of the corporation,” Pascale continues. “We’re starting corporate responsibility measures at the earliest stages of our projects to get it right. I’m engaging with NGOs and working towards development goals from within the company itself everyday. It’s very interesting for me.”

As CSR manager, Pascale is responsible for the continued development of CSR policies, frameworks and strategies, and for ensuring these are aligned with global standards and best practices. To date, she has travelled to a number of the company’s sites in Canada, Mexico and Guatemala.

“I have been thoroughly impressed,” she says. “Spending time on site has given me a first-hand look at the interesting programs and initiatives we have going on. For example, at the Éléonore project in Quebec, we have taken a collaborative approach to project development with our local Cree communities. We align our interests and share the risks and benefits involved in making the project a success.” Last year, Pascale went to Éléonore for their annual Cultural Day celebrations.

On a recent visit to the company’s Guatemala operations, she attended a community relations meeting with the mayor of the local town and met some of the local community. “It seemed like an open relationship with the people,” she recounts. “And I was able to see aspects of the site that you don’t always hear about.” She hiked down to the Tzala River to take samples with a regulator, and visited the nursery where they are growing trees in preparation for reclamation and closure. “It is important to see first hand what is actually going on and to hear what people in the community are saying regarding our activities,” she says. “We want to be a valued community partner. Nothing is black and white. It’s organic — everything changes, people change. And there’s no clear formula. You have to stay engaged, listen and be open.”

Pascale’s interest in CSR issues reaches beyond the company’s borders. She is a member of the interim executive committee of the Centre for Excellence in CSR and is active with the Devonshire Initiative, PDAC’s CSR Committee and Women in Mining. Last November, she addressed the United National Committee on Sustainable Development on behalf of the global mining industry, as a representative of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).

So far, Pascale says she has enjoyed her career in the mining industry. Having come from the NGO world, she brings with her invigorating approaches to community development and partnership-building. At Goldcorp, she is focused on structuring a responsible culture throughout the company and has forged a career dedicated to international development. Only five years out of university, Pascale is looking towards an exciting and challenging career in mining.

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