Women in Forestry – 2021
March 9, 2021 at
On DEMANDSpeaker: Kara Biles, Director, Learning and Leadership, Corporate Human Resources, Canadian Forest Products Ltd. (Canfor)
Awareness to action: Canfor’s journey to inclusivity
In 2016, Canfor made an executive commitment to develop a more inclusive culture and a diverse workforce with an ultimate goal that, by 2030, their workforce diversity is reflective of the communities they operate in. Canfor’s commitment to inclusion and diversity is a foundational strength of their company.
Inclusion has never been more critical to business success – employees are demanding it, talent retention strategies depend on it and every organization’s ability to innovate and solve complex problems hangs in the balance. Success depends on one key factor: Leadership commitment and action. And, it’s no secret that engaging employees and middle managers in inclusion, diversity and equity efforts can be a challenge. Even though business leaders in the forest sector recognize the need for a strategic approach to inclusion and diversity and realize its importance, there still can be a struggle to appreciate its relevance to the business. A clear plan, strong and consistent communication, and building an inclusive mindset within leaders is critical to meeting strategic business goals.
In this session, Kara Biles, the company’s HR leader who is spearheading the initiative, walks us through Canfor’s journey and progress so far, some of the challenges experienced, and what they’re currently doing to put their inclusion and diversity goals into action to ensure a safe working environment that provides abundant opportunities for growth and diversification.
About the speaker
Kara Biles is an accomplished human resources leader, speaker, facilitator and business partner with progressive experience in unionized and non-unionized environments in private, public and non-profit sectors. She is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) and Canfor’s Director, Learning and Leadership, Lead for Inclusion and Diversity and Co-Chair of the company’s Diversity Council. She champions Canfor’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, and equity as well as continuous learning, ensuring leadership growth and excellence of people at every level. She leads the company’s global inclusion, belonging and people diversity strategy and programs and is responsible for executing actions and initiatives to build an inclusive, equitable culture and a diverse workforce.
This last year, Kara and her team have trained almost 100% of Canfor’s Canadian and US salaried staff in understanding unconscious bias and inclusive actions and behaviours as well as a targeted mentoring program, leadership development of underrepresented groups, and the launch of their Indigenous Talent Program and Indigenous cultural awareness training, among many other initiatives. Her passion is diagnosing complex challenges and providing talent solutions for today, and the future, by building strong foundations and facilitating monumental shifts in culture through communication, programming and leadership activation.
Kara is Anishinaabe and mixed settler ancestry, from the Batchewana First Nation, and values the importance of building relationships as strongly as she does a forward-thinking and analytical approach to strategic planning and overcoming business challenges. Her belief is that success is found through empowering teams and fostering a culture that encourages respect, collaboration, creativity, equity and belonging to attract and retain the best talent.
In addition to her current role, Kara instructs in the Bachelor of Commerce degree program at UNBC and is passionate about growing the next generation of business leaders. She also serves on several boards, steering committees and peer groups to share her insights and expertise. Kara holds a Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University, a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and Human Resources from the UNBC, a diploma in Marketing and Management from the College of New Caledonia and a certificate in Conflict Resolution and Leadership from the Justice Institute of BC.
Kara lives in Prince George, B.C. with her husband and two young sons where she loves to spend time staying fit and active as well as enjoying the arts, theatre and culture of the city.