By: Neha Kunte – President & CEO, MNK Infotech
My participation at the inaugural Women’s Forest Congress originated from connections. Upon meeting a client’s friend, Katie Fernholz, who is one of the Women’s Forest Congress founders, she told me about WFC and the upcoming congress. I was intrigued.
I come from an IT background, so I had little idea about forestry and how it works. Of course, being a nature lover, I was curious to learn about that side of the world. I thought it would be a great opportunity. And honestly, attending this event was the best decision. I’ve always believed if you open your mind and heart, that can lead to another path on your journey.
A couple of months later there I was in Minneapolis. In my business, I teach the benefits of cultural curiosity. It was this curiosity that led me to want to learn more about forestry and the efforts to focus on the importance of diversity and inclusion to bring the voice of women to shape the future of our forests. Just imagine a forest without any colors — one that is universally the same in what trees are growing and all similar form and height. It would probably not be a thriving healthy forest for the long term since it was lacking diversity. At the Women’s Forest Congress we explored how to bring the new colors into this community.
Through my diversity and inclusion workshops, I see similar struggles in the technology sector. One parallel challenge is how best to recruit a talented workforce as well as how to promote skills development for the existing workforce. Along with this there is a need to explore more avenues to encourage the environment of belonging. Furthermore, all industries need more women giving a helping hand to other women. No matter what industry, we can unite together, and we can be much stronger!
WFC is uniquely positioned as an organization to be in a leadership position at the center of this undertaking for forestry. I see the potential to pool resources and to have those conversations with all stakeholder organizations that can identify common grounds, collaborate, and establish great relationships. While at the congress, I felt most of the women leaders were ready for change, and wanted to welcome diversity and the greater multiculturalism that is permeating all types of businesses.
Because I focus on diversity and inclusion for large corporate clients, I have a high bar for diversity. A lot can be achieved with different women coming together for a larger purpose. I see the WFC growing in this respect – attaining an even higher level of diversity in not just gender, but also cultural and ethnic. With wide-ranging backgrounds, we can take a look into what is working and generate the success stories to inform a responsible and sustainable future in the forestry sector.
One of my favorite quotes is known to be an African proverb. It says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Through joining together and building on diverse perspectives, I know WFC is going further.
Neha Kunte – President & CEO, MNK Infotech
Neha offers D&I workshops to companies across the country, for C-suite leaders, management, and staff.