HR Meets Sustainability

IAMGOLD's Lisa Zangari helps build a solid team for her company's corporate success

Throughout 2010 and 2011, IAMGOLD undertook biodiversity assessments at each of its operations sites. These assessments included qualitative data analysis, stakeholder identification and consultation, and biodiversity impacts and risks.

When IAMGOLD Corporation adopted its comprehensive Sustainability Framework, it turned to Lisa Zangari to help gets its employees onboard. It was a momentous task, and one that Zangari, IAMGOLD’s senior vice president of HR, continues to this day. The campaign is a watermark for the industry, as it brings eco-conscious decision-making to a field traditionally without it. And why did IAMGOLD decide to lead the charge? “We focus on sustainability because it is the right thing to do,” Zangari says.

IAMGOLD is one of Canada’s most successful middle-tier gold-mining companies, producing approximately one million ounces annually from four gold mines in Canada, Africa, and South America. In taking an industry-leading approach to health-and-safety environmental stewardship, the Toronto-based company ensures that comprehensive methods are taken to mitigate the impact of its gold-mining operations.

For Zangari, that meant getting the workforce aligned on all levels, from the corporate suites to the employees in the field on three continents. Zangari works to keep the culture consistent in each locale, and points towards IAMGOLD’s Zero Harm policy as the banner by which IAMGOLD operates.

“Our official brand foundation is: Empowering people, extraordinary performance,” Zangari says. “And I would be remiss if I didn’t state that our brand is firmly anchored in our commitment to Zero Harm—“zero harm” to our employees, the environment, and to the communities where we operate.”

IAMGOLD is committed to continually improving water efficiency at its sites while minimizing harmful discharges into the water.

Today, the Zero Harm policies are ingrained in the culture of IAMGOLD. “It defines who we are, and everyone—from technical mining engineers to office support staff to truck operators—finds a great deal of value in it,” Zangari says.

The success of this initiative’s rapid adaptation is a result of IAMGOLD’s progressive corporate culture. “We are a dynamic family,” Zangari says. “If you were to spend any amount of time with us, you would no doubt get the sense that IAMGOLD employees take incredible pride in the company and treat the business as if it were their own. Each day, our employees embody our values of teamwork, respect, transparency, excellence, diversity, learning, innovation, and—most importantly—accountability. We deliver what we say we will.”

In many ways, IAMGOLD’s success stems from its specific approach to talent acquisition. “Whether we are attracting operators in Burkina Faso, geologists in Suriname, or engineers in Canada, each new employee must want to contribute, be courageous and challenge the status quo, bring forth new ideas and introduce innovation, and truly want to make a difference,” Zangari says.

Teamwork is another boon for the company. “The ability to engage others to achieve a common goal is critical,” Zangari says. “We assess these qualities through rigourous interview and assessment processes that go well beyond the human-resources team.”

IAMGOLD also places great emphasis on professional aptitude and experience when considering talent. “There is a war for talent in our industry right now,” Zangari says. “There are many opportunities globally and, unfortunately, not enough talent to meet our needs.”

This tough field has Zangari maintaining a rigourous recruitment process. Though it can take longer to make the right hire, it’s essential for the company to stay competitive. IAMGOLD places value on formal education, international experience, and cultural sensitivity. “This experience is not always easy to find, which is why we have an extensive university student and graduate program that allows us to recruit the best and brightest, [whether] still in university or a recent graduate, and give them the experiences they need to make a difference within the organization,” Zangari says.

To ensure the likelihood of suitable candidates, IAMGOLD has established partnerships with several universities in North America and Europe to help facilitate mining curriculum design. In addition, students are actively recruited to participate in company internships.

“Our summer internships, for example, provide students with meaningful work experience on projects where they can apply their knowledge and skills,” Zangari says. “The graduates that we hire experience a comprehensive orientation program where they learn about IAMGOLD’s history, culture, and future. Our leaders provide clear expectations and support development initiatives; many even serve as mentors to these new employees.”

This recruitment process has been further advanced through IAMGOLD’s sustainability initiatives. “The majority of our recruits seek us out given our commitment to Zero Harm,” Zangari says. “This is critical in our industry, and while we screen all recruits for health and safety practices, they equally screen us. Our student campaign is anchored in Zero Harm and has received many accolades from our students … Not only does it get their attention, they are aligned with our philosophy and realize immediately upon starting their employment with IAMGOLD that this is the foundation of our business.”

Looking ahead, IAMGOLD anticipates continued growth. “We will be looking to expand our operations through exploration and acquisitions,” Zangari says. “And you can be sure that our Sustainability Framework will continue to figure prominently in all of these efforts.”