Women In Forestry

Opinion: Diversity strategies in action

March 8, 2019
By Tanya Wick
Presented by:
Wood Business
Women in Forestry

Does the diversity strategy in your workplace amount to posters in the lunchroom? I hope not.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe communication has an important role to play in shifting culture and increasing diversity. But if our strategies start and finish with communication campaigns, we won’t create the real change we need.

We have done a good job in recent years to raise awareness about how important diversity is to the bottom line and to the future of the forestry industry. If we are to continue to grow, it will be crucial to have a diverse, engaged workforce. More than that, we know that diverse companies are more profitable, more innovative and more sustainable.

What we need now is to translate that knowledge into execution. It’s time to go beyond awareness and take action.

A series of small actions can add up to a huge difference – either positively or negatively. Just like a series of snowflakes can eventually cause an avalanche, small actions by many individuals working together can change the landscape.

Think about your own influence in your organization and community. What will you do with it? What small actions can you take to contribute to change?

Here are some thought starters to consider:

  • What are your own beliefs about diversity in the workplace? Being more aware can help you improve your interactions with others.
  • How does your organization talk about diversity? If you can’t remember the last time you had one of these discussions, set aside time to have a dialogue with your team about what you could be doing better.
  • Who are the female team members you already have? Take a moment to evaluate what you’re doing to support their career development.
  • How are you empowering both male and female leaders from your team to help put diversity programs in place? The people who can help you affect the most change are the people who already work at your company.
  • Look at your last hires and see how often and who you may have passed over for “cultural fit” and define cultural fit.
  • Look at your training plans and succession candidates. Does it represent a diverse group?
  • We all have biases. Is your team aware of their biases and do you have a plan to minimize?
  • How do you give feedback? Is it equitable across genders?
  • Are your benefits family friendly? Can men take parental leave? Do you have a robust re‐onboarding program for parents who return to work after an extended absence?

As we celebrate international women’s day, let’s commit to making 2019 a year of action on our diversity initiatives.

I invite you to join our conversation about women in forestry. Follow me on LinkedIn @TanyaWick.

Tanya Wick is VP People and Services at Tolko.