March is designated as Women’s History Month and it’s the perfect time to reflect on the state of the Green Industry and where we stand when it comes to making landscape career opportunities more equitable for women now and in the future.
In this article, we’re sharing what we learned when we took an honest look at women’s perspectives in our company and where we hope to have a positive impact on Women in Landscaping in the coming years. Creating change starts with a conversation and we’re not shying away from having an honest dialogue about where we can eliminate biases, stereotypes, and generalizations for our female team members and consciously create more opportunities for a more diverse workforce.
For starters, we need more representation of women in the industry, especially with crew workers. According to Statista, over 90% of landscaping workers from 2020-2022 were men, and about 10% of those employed were women. This statistic is obvious if you have looked around a landscaping crew, irrigation, or tree care service team. It’s still rare to see one or more female team members on a crew in landscape maintenance or construction. And when you do, you might find them wearing a pink hard hat or vest. As unintentional as the sentiment may be, we heard that women in those roles want equality and to be respected for the quality of their work, not have their gender pointed out.
Last year, when we first interviewed female crew members in our company, some of the entry barriers they mentioned were overcoming gender stereotypes. Maria L. (Gardener Leader Assistant) said that when she came to the industry because she originally brought in her nephew to apply for a job. While he was applying, she became curious if women could also apply. She asked the receptionist and was met with an enthusiastic, “Yes! We do hire women!” and she submitted her application at the same time. Since then, she’s been working in both landscape maintenance and snow operations for over seven years. All it took was overcoming the stereotype that landscaping and snow operations work is only for men.
This is born from an outdated assumption that women would not be suited to this type of work because they would find it challenging to complete some of the more physically demanding parts of the job, like heavy lifting or working with equipment and machinery. This assumption was always untrue and the women we’ve spoken to have had no difficulty safely completing their jobs’ demands. In fact, most included working with the equipment as one of their favorite parts of their job.
Multiple female crew members stated that there is no difference between a man and a woman on a crew and they found the work environment to be respectful, but they acknowledged that it can be intimidating at first because the field is still so male-dominated.
Even though they are a minority, each person told us that there are so many positives and they want more women to know that this kind of work is not exclusive to men. They love working outside, seeing a completed job, feeling proud, and having a personal sense of satisfaction and confidence in their work. Each woman stated proudly that this type of work is for anyone who is willing to work hard and believe in themselves.
However, the statistic that only ten percent of the workforce doesn’t feel true for the industry as a whole. We see larger numbers of women represented in sales and client service positions such as account management and business development. We see even more women in human resources, office management, accounting, and marketing. It’s undeniable that all of the women in our industry and company are having a powerful impact on their local team and our organization.
Women's Impact On The Workforce
Research from the Center For Creative Leadership found that women not only have a positive impact on workplace well-being, but they also have a significant impact on the bottom line. Gender-diverse teams report higher sales and profits compared to male dominant groups and having more women in the workforce makes the organization a better place to work.
Women bring a unique perspective and empathy to their teams; when they are a part of leadership, there’s a positive correlation between employee retention and engagement. Organizations with a higher percentage of women leaders are more likely to have positive and meaningful work cultures and less burnout. Another huge advantage is that recruiting more women means doubling the talent pool.
In our interviews, we were inspired to see women in all areas of our company and with each story, we learned that there weren’t as many entry barrier challenges as we expected. One surprising thing we learned from some interviewees from non-horticultural backgrounds, was that their transferable skills made them stronger in their roles. Despite having limited landscaping knowledge, they stated that the Industry is full of opportunity and that it’s rewarding to know that they are contributing to creating beautiful environments.
A sense of purpose and satisfaction is something that women traditionally seek out in the workplace. Women not only want to enjoy their work but also want to feel that their positions give them the chance to make a difference.
The Future Is Female
Now that we’ve addressed the present state we see in our industry, what do we expect to see in the future? How can we make it easier for more women to join the green industry?
For the last two years, we’ve noticed that our incoming intern classes continue to be more heavily female, and last year, for the first time in our company’s history, we had more female interns than male. We hear from universities around the country that more women are graduating than ever before and that the number is surpassing their male counterparts for the first time.
So how do we prepare? How do we make the current environment more attractive for women now and in the future?
We believe it looks something like this:
- Providing adequate paid parental leave
- Supporting flexible work schedules
- Providing role models and mentors
- Showing more women in industry advertising
- Intentional diversity at all levels of the company
- Seeing more women in leadership
From what we see, the Landscaping industry is no longer a boys-only club. It’s for anyone who has a dream and wants to work hard. You don’t need to have a specific background to work here. We’re beyond proud of the amazing women who are making a difference in our organization from the front line to the highest levels of our company’s leadership team and we’re committed to making the green industry more diverse and equitable for women.
Yellowstone Landscape has seen record growth over the last few years and because of that, we have more opportunities than ever. We want to see more women joining our team and creating careers. We have multiple openings across the country and we love for you to join our growing family. Learn more about careers with Yellowstone Landscape here.