March 21, 2017 · 3:49 PM

Tina O’Neill has been a human resources manager at Tolko since June of 2015 and said she finds the company welcoming and respectful. / Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

As one of Tolko’s female managers, Tina O’Neill has been overseeing human resources for three mills and a woodlands team in the Cariboo region and the Heffley Creek Mill in Kamloops since she joined the company in June of 2015.

“I like working in the forest industry,” O’Neill said.

“I grew up on a farm, which maybe plays into it. You work around men all the time so it’s not really that different for me I guess. I do find Tolko, particularly, to be very respectful and welcoming.”

O’Neill is one of 38 women working for Tolko in Williams Lake.

At Lakeview Mill there are  seven salaried women  with job titles ranging from manufacturing controller, HR manager, regional optimization specialist, quality control trainee, payroll administrator, accounts payable administrator, HR co-ordinator, and shipping assistant. There are four hourly women employees,  three in production roles and one electrician.

At Soda Creek Mill there are also 11 women  employed. Four are salaried for jobs such as HR administrator, divisional accounting supervisor, mill stores clerk and shipper. Seven women are  hourly workers, six working in production and one electrician.

In the Woodlands operation there are 16 women in jobs such as operations forester, accounting supervisor, forestry student, and forestry co-ordinator.

In the fall of 2016, Tolko did an anonymous survey about women in the workplace with female employees to capture feedback that would help the company with its goal to encourage diversity and grow the number of women involved in the industry.

The survey was initiated by the company’s vice-president of corporate services, Tanya Wick.

“We are trying to gather information, and one of the questions asked if you feel welcome, do you feel that your opinions are heard, questions regarding turnover, so it was quite in-depth,” O’Neill said.

“And we had some focus groups to dig into the information a bit more.”

During the first week of March, the company shared the results of the survey with participants via webinars so people could watch from home and participate and ask questions.

Currently 11 per cent or 503 Tolko employees are female, but the company would like to see more, O’Neill said.

“The industry average here in B.C. is 15 per cent and 22 per cent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“We will use the information we have gathered to create action plans that help us attract, engage, develop and retain women at Tolko. Having women at the table in an organization makes a positive difference to the bottom line.”