Breaking the bias on International Women’s Day 2022

Read one woman’s story about her experience working in forestry and supporting workers who experience bullying, harassment, and gender-based violence. 

Photo of an occupational safety officer working in forestry, and sitting in her home for an interview

Caity Klaudt, WorkSafeBC
Photo credit: WorksafeBC, used with permission

On International Women’s Day 2022, I applaud Caity Klaudt for her efforts to support a safe, inclusive workplace culture in B.C. forestry.

Caity is a WorkSafeBC safety officer on the silviculture inspection team. As part of her work to promote healthy and safe workplaces, she educates workers at tree planting camps about what to do and who to contact if they experience workplace bullying, harassment, or gender-based violence.

She ensures that employers have policies and procedures for bullying and harassment. She often asks them, “Are these policies and procedures being followed? Do the workers understand them?” Caity adds, “Sometimes there’s a difference between a policy on paper and the actual culture on a site.”

Growing a career in forestry

In 2006, Caity experienced her first tree planting camp when she started a summer job during university. She says: “I loved being outdoors and getting to see so many cool places that people don’t usually get to see. I’ve been flown in by helicopter to the jobsite. I’ve had to wade through rivers or get to a site by rubber dinghy.”

Three years later, she started a job at Canfor and worked in several different roles. She joined the joint health and safety committee. Thanks to the support and encouragement of two of her supervisors – who were women – Caity earned her professional forestry worker designation.

“They always supported me for my love of asking questions,” she says. “Having examples of women in high positions in the forest industry was unique and encouraging.” Eventually, Caity started her job as an occupational safety officer at WorkSafeBC in 2019.

Being heard can be challenging

I asked Caity to tell me about the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to get people to listen to you, and value what you have to say,” she says. “I find that it’s getting better. I don’t necessarily have to state all my credentials and experience, prior to speaking up, to be heard. It’s a good change, but there’s definitely room for improvement.”

Caity also told me about her efforts to encourage her colleagues to use gender-inclusive language when they do workplace inspections. She says: “The language choices that you make during an inspection can influence the results of an inspection. It makes a huge impact if you ask questions in an appropriate way that includes everyone. It can be as simple as saying ‘Hey everybody, do you have any questions?’ versus ‘Hey guys, do you have any questions?’”

Thank you to Caity for talking with me and for making a difference to the working lives of women.

To learn more about Caity and other occupational safety officers working in forestry, see the video below, ‘Promoting safety: Women working in forestry’.

Women in Forestry also has many articles and content about women working in various roles related to forestry.

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