Over the course of my career, I’ve been hired, managed, supported, mentored and sponsored almost entirely by men. This isn’t unusual. Many industries, and certainly forest products, are male-dominated. If you work in one of these industries, and even if you don’t, you are likely to be supported on your career journey by men.
I have been fortunate to have had predominately positive experiences. Male sponsors identified my potential early on and have made a huge difference in my career. I’ve had male mentors and today the colleagues I rely on most to push me further are often male. I’m grateful for their support.
I’m also grateful to note how sincerely the Women in the Workplace Strategy is supported by the CEO and executive team at Tolko. Our goal to see women build thriving careers will need support and sponsorship from senior levels to succeed.
Instead of my usual blog style this month, I thought I’d chat with a couple of my male colleagues on Tolko’s executive team. I wanted to hear what it means to them to support women’s career journeys and to get their perspectives on the Women in the Workplace Strategy.
Trevor Jahnig is Tolko’s Chief Financial Officer. He is passionate about the manufacturing industry and is a true big picture thinker. He’s focused on getting results. You’ll see in our conversation that Trevor never loses sight of the bottom line. And he sees women as a critical part in that success.
Pino Pucci, Vice President Sales, Marketing and Logistics at Tolko, is high energy and performance-driven. He oversees a large team and is currently working on expanding go-to-market capacity. Pino is optimistic and future-oriented. He puts people first and it shows.
Here are a few highlights of our conversations.
Why is the Women in the Workplace Strategy important at Tolko?
Trevor: It’s an integral part of Tolko’s diversity strategy. We need to lever the potential in all employees irrespective of race, creed or gender. We have a responsibility as a company, and I don’t think we have provided women with the right support to reach their full potential.
For me, it’s also personally gratifying to see Tolko working to be a leader in diversity. I believe in equality and mutual respect for all. Aside from just being the right thing to do, a culture that embraces equality will hugely benefit Tolko. Unless we embrace diversity and equality, we will not have the best workforce – one that will ensure Tolko’s competitiveness and success.
Pino: Providing equal socio-economic opportunities for women not only makes societies better but makes companies better. Engaging women as equal and active employees opens the talent pool so we know we’re getting the best fit for every job. It’s also about building the positive reputation of our company. Diversity is important. A diverse and inclusive workplace must reflect our communities.
I believe pervasive preconceptions and a formal lack of support have held, and continue to hold, women back. I’m glad to see this Strategy moving forward. We can and must do more.
What do you see as your role as a leader in advancing the Women in the Workplace Strategy?
Trevor: I’m a strong supporter of the Strategy as part of our overall diversity initiative. I will continue to be a visible presence at events and training and will voice my support at my own team’s meetings and on committees. As a leader at Tolko, I commit to leading by example by calling out unacceptable behavior and by creating opportunities to support women, such as mentorship.
Pino: My role is to visibly support the Strategy in words and actions. I can provide opportunities for women and make it clear that I expect the same of my managers. All of us also have a critical role to play in building and promoting a safe, healthy, respectful workplace free of harassment and discrimination.
What will be different when the programs to better support women are in place? What impact will these changes have on your team and on Tolko?
Trevor: This work will help Tolko attract and retain the best workforce. It will also improve employee engagement. These two things will lead to improved collaboration and respect, which will ensure we leverage the right skills and improve the bottom line.
Pino: Attraction, retention, and engagement. The presence of women in leadership positions is an important consideration to candidates in choosing where to work. Engagement will increase overall with our employees. Our business reputation will improve as well, which affects how customers view us.
I also believe women in leadership impact workplace policies in ways that benefit both men and women. We need more of the many skills and competencies women have to offer.
What leadership advice would you offer to anyone looking to advance their career?
Trevor: Lead by example. Speak up – we value your opinion. Respectfully call out behavior that does not support diversity and equality. Find a mentor and be a mentor.
Pino: Demonstrate values, ethics, integrity, and respect in your personal behavior. Provide fearless advice and act with the courage of your convictions.
Thanks Trevor and Pino for sharing your time and your thoughts. Our conversations reminded me that we’re all in this together. I was also honored to see how much reflection and consideration my colleagues have given this topic. I feel truly supported and fortunate to work with these men who believe in the potential of all employees.
To move forward, we must support one another and consider how our actions affect positive culture change. Have you found support and encouragement in unexpected places? Have you seen genders working supportively side by side, building each other up? As always, I’d love to hear from you.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.