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A thriving forest and wood products sector in the United States is dependent upon the availability of a wide array of talent in all workforce segments. Access, retention, and leadership development within a talented workforce is a growing concern in the US forest and wood products sector. Companies and organizations that employ successful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategies have the opportunity to benefit from untapped and underrepresented workforce talent - from the forest floor to the board room.

This paper provides an overview of the employment and economic impact of the US forest and wood products sector and the associated workforce needs and challenges. Information about the demographic diversity of the sector’s workforce is provided along with a discussion of representation in proportion to the overall US population and workforce. Recent research evaluating strategies to address identified barriers to the sector’s recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented groups is presented with a focus on strategies that can inform the DEI efforts in the sector. Specific examples of public agency and private company leadership on workforce challenges and DEI are provided.

This paper provides a sector-specific resource to support shared understanding of workforce challenges as well as increased awareness of research findings and benefits, tools and resources, case studies, best practices, and next steps that define the value of DEI in efforts for meeting these needs. Applying effective strategies for DEI in the forest and wood products sector helps support the success, relevance, and economy-wide benefits of the full range of forest products and services throughout America’s rural, suburban, and urban communities.

Special thanks to...
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities for their support and the leadership of The Forest and Wood Products Inclusion Council.

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