New Plan a roadmap to improve diversity in the forest sector

The Tasmanian Forests and Forest Products Network officially launched the completed Diversity Action Plan for the forest industry at Wood Based Products in Burnie yesterday, supported by more than 40 industry stakeholders and supporters.

The Plan–which aims to increase diversity in its workforce and encourage everyone to take action that promotes inclusion–was developed in collaboration with an industry reference group established by the Network, comprising over 30 people working in and around the forest sector.

TFFPN Convenor, Therese Taylor said the Diversity Action Plan is a roadmap to improve diversity outcomes and outlines key activities and timelines for implementation.

“The Plan is a clear framework for diversity and inclusion with learning opportunities and tools that will support everyone to be inclusive in their workplaces,” Ms Taylor said.

“The forest industry in Tasmania has historically been male-dominated—with women only making up 16 per cent of its workforce—and not particularly culturally diverse; however, by focusing on diversity and inclusion, employers can attract and support a wide cohort of employees from right across the community and tap into their skills, knowledge, experience and ideas,” she said.

Ms Taylor said that in working towards the outcomes of the Plan, participants from right across the forest industry will have an improved capacity to connect with each other, the community, and foster a sense of belonging for everyone.

Employer, Andrew Wye of Wood Based Products, understands well the importance and benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace.

“The business case for diversity and inclusion in our workplaces is clear – from greater employee recruitment and retention, to improved reputation within both our community and industry,” Mr Wye said.
“Most importantly, inclusive workplaces have a positive and lasting impact on employee mental health and wellbeing,” he said.

Mr Wye—who has been an active participant in the Workforce and Diversity Reference Group which assisted in the development of the Plan— is part of a team that ‘walks the walk’.

“We have focused on fostering a culture of respect, connection and belonging at Wood Based Products through inclusive practices, acceptance, support and openness around mental and physical health.
“We encourage, facilitate and model healthy attitudes and provide tools to support our workers –and interestingly, this attracts a diverse range of people to our business.”

Wood Based Products currently employs a majority female workforce.

Ms Taylor believes the Plan reinforces the notion that everyone can play a role in diversifying the workforce and said there are strategies that workers, managers and executives can implement right now that will help to support diversity and inclusion in the sector.

“The Diversity Action Plan is something tangible that we as an industry can use to take steps forward together and further the conversation around attracting, employing and retaining the right workforce for the future,” she said.

The Diversity Action Plan project is funded by the Tasmanian Government and aims to support the forest industry in realising a vision of being an ‘industry of choice’ with a skilled workforce that is representative of the community in which it operates.

The Diversity Action Plan can be found here: Diversity Action Plan – Tasmanian Forest and Forest Products Network (