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Mentorship and diversity, plus CFI’s new issue out now!

Driving progress in forestry

April 8, 2024  By  Jennifer Ellson

I’m writing this editorial fresh from co-hosting our fourth annual Women in Forestry Virtual Summit. I’m basking in the glow of its success, attracting 800 registrants from more than 20 countries, with 500 joining us live to discuss key issues like inclusion, diversity, biases, career ladders and so much more! You can read the recap in this issue, or check our website for videos of each session.

So naturally after the event, I traded in my mystery novels for a deep dive into a 43-page report titled Evidence on diversity in Canada’s forest sector. Riveting, right? No joke, this 2021 report authored by some of Canada’s best academics sheds some serious light on the state of gender diversity in our beloved forestry industry.

You see, while we’re all aware that women, Indigenous people, and immigrants are somewhat underrepresented in the forestry sector, the extent of this underrepresentation hasn’t been well documented. This report, part of a Canada-wide effort to promote diversity in the forest sector workforce, aims to change that.

Let’s talk numbers for a moment. According to the report, women occupied just 17 per cent of jobs in Canada’s forest sector in 2016. Sure, that’s an improvement from 14 per cent in 1996, but it also highlights a frustratingly slow rate of change. And that’s not the only statistic worth noting.


The report dives into various indicators of diversity, painting a vivid picture of the challenges we face. From the big picture overview of gender equity to the diversity in specific jobs and across regions, it’s clear that there’s still much work to be done.

Take for instance the wage gap. Despite progress, there’s still a significant disparity between men and women’s incomes, especially in certain occupations. And while women are making strides in professional forestry programs, they remain underrepresented in technical forestry programs.

It’s interesting that one of the most pressing issues addressed during the summit was the persistent gender gap within the sector. The event showcased initiatives aimed at bridging this gap, such as the gender and diversity framework championed by some industry players. This framework not only acknowledges the challenges faced by women but also lays the groundwork for a more inclusive and welcoming workplace culture.

Mentorship emerged as a powerful tool for empowering women in forestry. The transformative impact of mentorship and wraparound career support systems was emphasized, showcasing the potential for nurturing talent and fostering leadership.

The summit’s discussions highlighted the importance of fostering an environment that values and supports women in forestry. From Indigenous inclusion to leadership development, the insights shared underscored the significance of diversity in driving innovation and excellence within our industry.

But here’s the thing: diversity isn’t just a moral imperative – it’s also good for business. Research shows that organizations with diverse workforces tend to be more profitable, creative, and effective problem solvers. So, investing in measures to promote diversity isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s also a smart business move.

At the heart of these discussions lies a fundamental truth: diversity drives progress. By embracing diversity and empowering us in forestry, we unlock a wealth of talent, creativity, and expertise that propels our industry forward. As we navigate the complexities of a changing world, it’s imperative that we harness the full potential of our workforce to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for forestry in Canada.

The virtual summit served as a beacon of inspiration and empowerment for us in forestry. By addressing challenges head-on and championing initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion, we pave the way for a brighter and more equitable future. As we continue on this journey of transformation, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering women as catalysts for change in the forestry sector. Together, we can build a stronger, more resilient industry that thrives on the diverse talents and contributions of all its members.

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