Free to Grow in Forestry Movement


To shift the workplace culture to be more welcoming of women and all other underrepresented groups in the forest sector.

Why Now?

The forest sector is one of the key pillars of the Canadian economy and is comprised of 83% men.

Currently this sector is facing unprecedented levels of labour market demand due to an aging workforce. The Government of Canada is also accepting an unprecedented level of new immigrants into the country (half a million/year) for the three-year period 2022-25. Action is required now to reduce stigmas and shift the workplace culture to be more accepting of everyone, regardless of gender, race or religion, allowing this sector to continue to compete in the global market.

Research shows that diversity of thought leads to innovation, better business outcomes and higher performance among teams. The forest sector must diversify its labour market to not only draw from the diverse labour market in Canada but also to spur on innovative solutions to the challenges facing the sector (e.g. climate change).

Innovatively Making Impact Across a Sector

In 2018, CSI approached the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF-IFC) to lead the first-ever sector-wide DEI initiative.

Together we engaged a gender parity advisory committee comprised of public, private, not-for-profit, Indigenous, and academic groups to provide guidance on the development of a National Action Plan focused on three pillars of activity:

Building the Evidence Base

Brought together for the first time in history, disparate data across the sector to provide a baseline on the composition of the sector.

Fostering an Inclusive Culture

Developed the tools needed on how to create an inclusive workplace culture.

Reposition­ing the Sector

Shifted the image of the sector to include women and other underrepresented people; found new means of communicating such as the first ever podcast in the Canadian sector dedicated solely to DEI, among other things.

The National Action Plan Exceeded Expectations

Because we brought it to life through engagement across the sector. We were encouraged to go on, and so we did…

The second phase of this initiative began in 2021 where we moved from a national to a regional focus, with the intent of providing the necessary skills and tools needed to empower leaders in the forest sector across the country to take action. However, the overwhelming level of interest in this initiative caused us to quickly pivot from sharing the learnings with regional leaders to sharing them through an open webinar platform approach to engage any leader in the forest sector from around the world.

We also furthered our reach by implementing a communications strategy that included a DEI pledge that all companies can sign on to [provide link to pledge].

The CIF-IFC has also created an internal pledge for its 18 chapters to sign onto, creating a wave of change across this organization across Canada.

Beyond all of that, we also created highly interactive, mobile-friendly online training modules that help engage individuals on why they need to take action, and then how to go about it.

For more information and to view all resources, visit the Free to Grow in Forestry Movement Website

The conversation moving #ForestryForward


Join the Canadian Institute of Forestry and the Centre for Social Intelligence as we hear from experts, organizations, and individuals across the forest sector as they share their experiences on inclusion and diversity in forestry.

Online training courses

In addition to these courses, we can customize training to your specific subject matter and deliver it live, whether virtual or in-person.

Lead the Change:

Unlocking the Competitive Advantage of Inclusion

Allyship in Action:

From Intent to Positive Impact

Inclusive Leadership:

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Overcoming Resistance to DEI in the Workplace:

Tools and Strategies to Make Change Happen


Free to Grow Newsletter

Get the latest Free to Grow news straight to your inbox! Our bi-monthly e-newsletter features news and updates, useful tools and resources, articles of interest, and upcoming events.

Inclusive Leadership Report

This report aims to create a culture of empowerment, accountability and belonging by positioning for success, walking through employee life-cycle and tying in the supply chain.

Indigenous Women’s Leadership

The Indigenous Women’s Leadership in the Forest Sector Report profiles the accomplishments of Indigenous women in the forest sector, aiming to shed a different light on their contributions thereby increasing appreciation of Indigenous women’s roles in the sector.

Get Certified

Show your stuff
Corporate Social Intelligence Certificate

Leaders who complete all of our course material will receive a CSI certificate of completion, identifying you to your peers, and your customers, that you’re doing the work.

Become an asset and an ally to your DEI efforts, all while building skills that help take your career to the next level.