Mercer Timber Products launches project on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity refers to the existence of diverse identities and cultures within and between human groups and societies. This includes people with different political, ethnic, religious, and socio-demographic backgrounds; different genders, gender identities, ages, and sexual orientation. These characteristics are subject to legal protection against discrimination in Germany and in the EU. However, the different manifestations of these characteristics still influence individual opportunities in our society. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) aims to reduce these inequalities and to positively involve and benefit the diversity of people in a company’s decisions and development.

For instance, diversity can help to compensate for skilled labour shortages. Further, due to different perspectives diverse team members bring to the table, they can help to find better and more efficient solutions to problems. Integrating a wide range of people into a company promotes tolerance within the workforce and can help create a positive corporate image.

Mercer supports diversity in its operations. Hereby, creating fair working conditions for all employees plays an important role. The promotion of women not just in production but also in leadership roles, the integration of migrants, and the respectful treatment of Canadian Indigenous populations – all are DE&I matters, varying across Mercer operations, each one just as important for growth. 

Therefore, in order to analyze the situation in Friesau and to identify the potential offered by DE&I, Mercer Timber Products has launched an in-house CIP (Continuous Improvement Process) project on DE&I in June 2021. Currently, most women at Mercer work in administrative roles while men tend to work in technical areas. One of the aims of this project is to develop very concrete ways to promote gender equality: for example, to make production jobs in the sawmill more attractive for women.

The project is currently in the measuring phase of the DMAIC process, where we are determining the exact status of the gender distribution at MTP. This will be followed by the analysis phase, during which the potential causes of gender inequality are identified and analysed. Suggestions for improvement will be developed on the basis of these results, then implemented and checked for their effectiveness in the control phase.

The CIP project team consists of 8 employees from different departments and fields as well as of different ages and genders. The team is led by Elena Neumeister, who works as a student trainee at MTP.

Outside of the results of the project, several strategies are already being implemented to ensure more diversity and equality within the company. For example, an employee training course on unconscious bias is being offered. Unconscious bias is a problem that prevents us from accepting and/or implementing diversity in everyday life. For instance, due to prejudice, men are often associated with career and women are more likely to be associated with family. This kind of thinking must be actively questioned to be able to disengage oneself from it. Offering this type of training will encourage this act of questioning and implementing changes on the personal and professional level.

The overall objective is to take advantage of the diversity of the people in our region to make Mercer an attractive, fair, and aware employer in the long term and to develop the potential of its employees to the fullest extent possible.