Women in Landscape Network Virtual Networking Series Takeaways - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Women in Landscape Network Virtual Networking Series Takeaways

Since August, the NALP Women in Landscape Network powered by Bayer has hosted over a dozen meetings via Zoom in conjunction with their new Virtual Networking Series. The WILN Leadership Team has worked to develop timely, relevant, and interesting offerings, and cultivate a variety of speakers and formats, including presentations by industry veterans and open discussions among industry peers. The sessions are typically female-led and are free for both NALP members and non-members.

Work/Life Balance

One of the topics we covered early on in our sessions was Work/Life Balance; this session was led by Callan Dudley, Southern Landscape Group, and Jenn Myers, NALP.  Attendees touched on the following:

  • Work to set boundaries, which vary based on job/role and personal/family situation; expectations and boundaries often change after having children; often women without children experience discrimination (ex. expected to work late nights, holidays, etc.) and/or guilt (ex. agree to work holidays so those with children aren’t away from their families).
  • Several attendees noted they feel guilty leaving work, even when they’ve completed the required hours and assignments for the day; as a woman in a male-dominated industry, feeling you must prove yourself more and for longer, which leads to working extended hours, feeling of guilt, and not taking time for self.
  • Take vacation and leave your work phone behind (or don’t answer work calls or check emails); focus on training and empowering your team to make decisions while you are out, and ensure they have access to needed files, documentation/SOPs.
  • If possible, leverage natural productive hours (ex. work from home and are most productive during the late afternoon/early evening vs morning).
  • Hobbies/stress-relief/for fun: biking, running, painting, knitting, COVID-friendly events/trips (camping, kayaking, hiking), quiet time in the morning, take a walk during work hours; plan something and stick to it (more likely to complete and something to look forward to).

Together 24/7: Working with Your Spouse/Significant Other

Claire Goldman, R&R Landscaping, and NALP 2020 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, and her husband Charlie led us through a session entitled Together 24/7: Working with Your Spouse/Significant Other. Some key discussion points include: 

  • It’s important to set boundaries and honor work time versus family time. This may look different for each couple and vary during the year (busy season vs. not). Treat your partner as a co-worker or colleague and understand how your communication impacts others on the team.
  • Actively work to have separate work vs personal time, but don’t beat yourself up if you talk about work when you’re not scheduled to. COVID-19 has made separating work and business even harder; don’t hesitate to create separate workspaces or whatever you need to do to be your best self for your family and your company.
  • You should manage deposits and withdrawals in a relationship; it is not healthy or sustainable to have one person always taking or one person always giving.
  • Several examples of personality tests were shared, with support to utilize them to help find a good match within leadership. Focus on each contributor’s strengths and weaknesses. Successful relationships understand the other person and provide empathy.
  • Adapting through growth and changes requires clear definition of roles, allowing managers to manage, and putting time into working on the company instead of in the company. Accept and step into the changes and challenges that come with growth.

Creating a Climate of Change

Mark Hopkins of LandCare recently led participants through Creating a Climate of Change, during which attendees focused creating a forward-thinking culture and support structure in a business as it relates to attracting, developing and retaining female team members. Important takeaways include:

  • Attracting females to the company must be important to ownership and management; leadership cannot tolerate poor or inequitable behavior from team members. Companies must develop a culture of transparency and work to engage and include women in the organization. Women, regardless of experience, must prove themselves (often repeatedly); it is assumed that men can do the job.
  • Diversity must be multifaceted and on all levels, including: gender, race, age, experience, interests, backgrounds, opinions, etc.
  • Men: determine if a female needs help by simply asking her; don’t assume she needs help (with lifting something heavy, for example) because she is female; if we accept help, don’t do it FOR us, do it WITH us.  On the flip side, women should not assume a man does not need help with something because he is a man; ask if help is needed.
  • Importance of the male advocate, especially one that will use his voice.
  • Promote women in the industry: target and educate parents, embrace the trades, share female stories, be intentional with female representation (events, website, collateral, etc.), ensure women are presented same career paths and opportunities as men (ex. don’t assume women want sales and/or design roles).

Other past topics include Employee Safety, Wellness for Landscape Professionals, Engaging with Your Team, Personality Traits/Tests, Building a Team Today and Bench Strength for the Future, LGBTQ, Body Images: Building Each Other Up and Women’s Health/Mental Health.

The WILN Virtual Networking Series will continue in 2021, with sessions scheduled two to four times per month. For more information visit the NALP WILN webpage and join the NALP WILN Facebook group

Jenn Myers

Jenn Myers is the senior director of workforce development for NALP.