Workforce, diversity and inclusion – what a year it has been…

By Tracey Taylor – Manager, Workforce and Diversity

In reflecting on the past year, I would like to highlight some of the activities and outcomes of the Workforce Development and Diversity Project that are supporting the development of our workforce for the future. A workforce that is diverse, inclusive, and skilled. A workforce that will support the growth of our forest industry and our broader community. A workforce where everyone is committed to diversity and inclusion every day.

Our Workforce Development and Diversity Project Reference Group, chaired by Brodie Frost, has provided expertise, leadership, and advocacy in all aspects of the project. Meeting monthly since March, this group has guided the project, and, in particular, the development of the Diversity Action Plan. Their participation, support, and enthusiasm have been integral to the project’s success. Reference group member, Lauren Carter from JCH Harvest notes she “found this project to be inclusive of all industry stakeholders, genuine engagement was continuous and specific knowledge sought for the best outcome. Our organisation felt very valued in the specific knowledge it could provide around workplace culture”

The launch of the Diversity Action Plan at Wood Based Products in Burnie by Minister Ellis provided a chance for the reference group to showcase their achievements and the importance of diversity and inclusion to our industry.  Andrew Wye, an active Reference Group member and State Manager of Wood based Products, noted that “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. Most importantly, inclusive workplaces have a positive and lasting impact on employee mental health and wellbeing.”

Training and development have been a focus of the project over the past 12 months. Thanks to a partnership with Trades Women Australia, we can gain a better understanding of what diversity and inclusion is, how to recognise our unconscious bias and how we can all act every day to make our workplaces inclusive. Tanya Paterson from Trades Women Australia, a reference group member, is enthusiastic in her support of the project. She notes that “the forest industry has been early up-takers of diversity and inclusion training offered by Trades Women Australia. Out of all the industry sectors, forestry has been the shining light with their participation across many organisations demonstrating a strong commitment to change. Trades Women Australia have developed a strong partnership with Forestry, which we hope will last for many years.” Contact Tracey if you would like to participate in the free training program offered by Trades Women Australia.

The project has supported eleven Tasmanian women working in the forest industry on their governance and leadership journeys. Three women were awarded scholarships to undertake the AICD Foundations of Directorship Online Course. The feedback has been very positive, with one participant stating “I would highly recommend this course for anyone interested in either joining a board, or even for senior leaders to understand the role of directors and boards within an organisation. It was a great introductory course that was able to be managed in and around other work commitments whilst at the same time delivering great value.”

Eight women were awarded scholarships to undertake ILEAD – Women in Industry Program, which was created to exclusively support and accelerate the leadership journey of rising and established women leaders from traditionally male-dominated sectors in Tasmania. This program connected a cohort of 37 women from across the mining, fisheries, manufacturing, electricity and water industries with expert facilitators and prominent sector professionals. This connection was highly valued by the participants with one woman commenting that “hearing other leader’s struggles and perspectives and meeting so many amazing guest speakers” as highlights of the program.

“Now the Workforce Development and Diversity project is moving into implementation phase of the Diversity Action Plan and the Workforce Development Plan, we have the next year to put in place projects, frameworks and materials to support our workforce of the future.  Workforce development, diversity and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. How are you going to be involved?” asks Brodie Frost.

For more information on the Workforce Development and Diversity Project go to the TFFPN website or contact Tracey Taylor.