 

 

    COMPANY?* A safe, welcoming workplace for women

Female friendly from the top down; owner and management openly support growing their female workforce

Better/more flexible hours

Better benefits/benefits that appeal to female workers like maternity leave

More roles better suited to women (lift less than 50 pounds, for instance)

Regular and clear communication indicating that harassment is not OK (including subcontractors)

Collateral/marketing/website/social media that shows the company is female friendly (photos of women, language appealing to women, etc.)

Option to work on all-female crews

*Ranked from most important to least important by respondents to the NALP survey

get this access are the same people who sign their paychecks, which makes requesting these accommodations tricky and intimidating.”

Changes need to be made at an organization-wide level, starting with culture, processes and benefits. “We continue to look at ways we can shift our benefits and business model to make our company more appealing to women,” says Phil Key, president of Ruppert Landscape, Laytonsville, Maryland. “We have recently extend- ed our maternity leave policy and are creating more flexible work schedules and job responsibilities to make certain positions more feasible for working mothers who are looking for a better work-life balance.”

Representation among recruit- ing materials, marketing collateral, websites and media coverage can do wonders by highlighting the land- scaping industry as a welcoming field for female employees. Just seeing is believing, in many ways. “Lots of high-profile examples of women succeeding professionally in the industry will bring in others,” Higgins says. “Once women know they can have a solid, progressive career in this industry and make good money for an honest day’s work, they will come in droves.

It starts by getting in front of a diverse mix of people from the onset. Having female employees attend recruiting events at universities or high schools, or featured prominently on recruitment collateral can strike interest in younger generations who are still shaping their perspective of the industry and considering where they want to go in their career. “This industry wasn’t even on my radar; it wasn’t marketed to me as a young woman,” says Katie Harper, recruiting specialist, Strategic Partner- ships with Davey Tree. “It was some- thing I did in college in tree climbing class and we were provided equal opportunity. My male peers knew about the industry; it was sold to them to work outside, use their hands and be physical and use their brains. But it wasn’t sold to me as a young woman.” Harper’s experience is not atyp- ical. Most women who work in the landscaping industry either sought out their career themselves, or they followed a line of family business. Only 30 percent of female respondents to

26 The Landscape Professional // May/June 2019

“It means you have an opportunity to start big waves of

change because we as women have a

different perspective and different ideas than men do.”

“T olerating men who complain that ‘they just can’t say

anything anymore’ and then spout off sexist and racist comments to each other.”

“P ersonal satisfaction.”

“Y  ou have to

establish boundaries with employees from day one and not

fraternize with male employees.”

“Being confident in the differences you bring to the table and working hard.”

“Being successful.” 

“It is a competitive industry and very

hard to get your foot in the door.”

“I have to work 

harder to establish credibility and capability.”

“Y  “Being r

ou have to be tough.”


and valued for my efforts and

contributions in growing our company.”

“Being strong and able to work with my male counterparts in the company.”

 “St 

anding out in a crowd.”

the NALP Job Assessment & Women in Landscaping Survey were recruited for their positions. “We could be doing a better job

of reaching women at younger ages, reaching their influencers, and educat- ing them about the career paths that exist within the landscape industry,” says Key. “We’ve found that an effec- tive way to help us attract more women to our ranks is to showcase strong, re- latable women. This includes recogniz- ing them at our annual awards banquet for various accomplishments; featuring them on social media, in videos, in our newsletter and on our website.” Female business owners and other

female leaders in the industry can have further impact by a personal approach to other women interested in the out- doors or environmental fields. Breaking down myths and misconceptions can help shed light on the possibilities within the landscape industry. “We need to have women in leader- ship roles get out to local schools and help create the belief window that our industry has created many career paths and has made a lot of people rich along the way,” says Jennifer Lemcke, COO of Weed Man. “People don’t equate wealth with our industry and that is what we need to work on.”

THE ROLE OF MALE ADVOCATES Often, men recognize there’s an issue with gender equality and want to voice their support for their female coworkers. Other times, men don’t even realize there’s an issue, so they remain quiet. A third group of male workers are the antagonizers, who perpetuate gender biases and stereotypes. Women in landscaping and other male-dominated industries typical-


“Don’t try to succeed by trying to blend in and ‘be one of the boys.’ Be yourself, and know that providing a differentiated perspective is really valuable.” —Trish Higgins

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