I had a difficult time when I first started at Tolko seven years ago. I was in a new industry and had moved away from my family, friends, and network. The Vice President of Human Resources was a newly created role, so expectations were unclear and I had not been an executive before. Becoming a contributing member of the team was much more challenging than I anticipated.
Now that I’ve been with the company for several years, I want it to be easier for others. We’ve made many changes and improvements to our HR programming and I’m confident the experience of new female employees is improved. We’ve introduced more rigorous recruitment processes, extensive onboarding, and development, and we’re working hard to improve our culture. Those achievements mean a lot to me because it’s important to me that women feel accepted and do well at our company.
What we’re trying to do at Tolko is important. It’s important on the individual level, but it’s also important to our broader community. Why? Because women are intrinsically connected to family and community. Not only do we play active roles within our nuclear and extended families, we frequently volunteer and give to non-profit organizations. When you improve the life of a woman, her family and community are naturally impacted for the better.
For many women, their goal is to help others. This can lead to putting themselves last. I’d like to challenge that concept. My position is that we can improve our workplaces and communities precisely because we improve our own careers.
At Tolko, our CEO has challenged us to “Make it Count.” I’ve accepted that challenge with pride and enthusiasm. What it means to me is that I can make it count for my community, for my family, and for myself. I can be part of something that contributes in all three areas, which increases its meaning for me.
I am deeply committed to shifting our culture at Tolko and across our industry. My vision is a company that is driven by shared values and unshakeable respect. To make this kind of change, we’re focused on the day-to-day task of catching unconscious ‘in the moment’ and doing better. In the short-term, we’ve identified and are improving access to the right safety equipment and to supports that all employees need to do their jobs. Longer term, we’ll tackle critical issues like development and promotion.
Making it count will benefit Tolko. But even more so, the thought that I am part of building something that can positively impact even one woman’s life, which in turn benefits her family and her community, is incredibly motivating. On the days when I struggle to take up the challenge one more time, you can bet this thought is what drives me forward.