MIRO FORESTRY COMPANY
Promoting the female workforce in forestry
Miro Forestry is a sustainable forestry and timber business with plantations in Ghana and Sierra Leone. It was founded and began planting in late 2010. BII invested $15 million in 2015 and the company has now established over 10,000 hectares of standing forest through its planting activities.
Despite the operational progress made, Miro’s absentee levels and attrition rates were higher than desired, and the company believed it could begin to address this issue by shifting its focus to its female workforce, offering women more career progression opportunities. The BII ESG I and VCS Gender teams began a journey to assist Miro to develop a Gender Action Plan (GAP) for its plantations in Ghana. The plan seeks to embed gender initiatives that advance women’s economic empowerment locally while delivering business value to Miro.
The initiatives set up by Miro and BII included an upskilling program for women which aimed to provide equal opportunities for training and unconscious bias training to senior management to increase hiring of women. As the GAP was rolled out and lessons were learnt, the plan was updated annually and now has a large focus on confidence and capacity building for female employees. In addition to this GAP, the ESG I team also helped Miro appoint a female ESG Manager, who is now a director of the company assisting with diversity at a senior level. The company was successful for obtained FSC certification, which adds another level of control to gender issues and quotas. Miro was qualified for 2X on October 2020, as the Company committed to continue their efforts to increase the ratio of women in workforce to 40%.
Some of the key lessons learned from implementation – which were taken forward into the next phase of development — were that the GAP was not culturally sensitive enough and the value of proposed actions such as women’s committees were not supported by the workforce on the ground. In addition to the cultural challenges within the workplace, in Sierra Leone, the strong religious and traditional cultures made the development and implementation of a GAP even more challenging. It was also recognized that focusing on a gender-sensitive approach to the business and the cultural changes within communication and management styles were needed for successful change.
In 2020, in response to a requirement for a safeguarding policy and a need to update and improve the gender action plan, Miro developed a process, in partnership with BII, other investors and a local civil society organisation (CSO), that would facilitate a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by women in the workforce and community, resulting in a more targeted approach to gender development, GBVH and a change in the company culture.
BII sees the GAP as an important opportunity to better understand which interventions can empower women economically while delivering business value. Together with Miro’s Compliance Director, we continue to monitor the implementation and enhancement of the GAP and identify further opportunities to make an impact.