Gender Diversity in the Wood Products Industry

How can a company improve financial performance by 40 percent without an increase in spending? According to recent studies, promoting or hiring women into strategic decision making roles boosts business profitability and success.

Genderdivirsity

In a 2016 study of Fortune 500 companies, businesses with at least three female directors had a 40 percent higher return on capital, sales and return on equity compared to less-diverse companies. The research revealed a direct relationship between the diversity of a company’s top management team and competitive performance.

A recent study reported by Forbes found:

  • Diverse teams made decisions twice as fast with half the meetings.
  • Decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60 percent better results.
  • Gender-diverse teams (3+ women) made better business decisions 73 percent of the time.

Put simply: homogenous teams are more likely than diverse teams to make poor decisions and will subsequently struggle to execute those decisions. By including employees of different genders and experience levels, companies make better, faster decisions.

Opportunity for Improvement

Unfortunately, a significant portion of the wood products industry is male-dominated. A 2016 study by Oregon State University’s Department of Wood Science and Engineering, College of Forestry found women hold fewer than 16 percent of top management jobs in the forest sector. Furthermore, 84 percent of the companies studied had two or fewer women in top management and their positions were frequently in human resources, communications, or other departments disconnected from strategic decision making.

The study recommended companies:

  • Seek input from three or more women on key decision. Research suggests three is the “magic number,” whereas one or two women may feel like token members and suppress their opinions.
  • Engage with women who work on a project basis for their insights and expertise.
  • Retain talent by allowing male and female employees flexible working conditions to accommodate family needs.
  • Recruit and mentor young women so they are well-placed to climb the corporate ladder.

Supporting Women in the Wood Products Industry

Women in Wood, a forest industry group based in Canada reports women represent slightly more than 18 percent of workers in the forestry and logging industry in Canada, but women are starting to outnumber men in forestry school. Over the past two years, Women in Wood has grown to approximately 650 members with representation from the US, Canada and many parts of Europe.

Encouraging women to build a career in the wood products industry is an investment in diversity and long-term success. Just as a single-species planting is more vulnerable to disease, a homogenous business culture is susceptible to myopic thinking and stagnant growth. As executives retire, companies have the opportunity to promote talented women to top management, strengthening decision making, their business, and our industry as a whole.

Interested in working for Timber Products? Head over to our careers page to see our open positions!

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