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Diversity is good for the landscape industry

June 30, 2020 -  By
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Illustration: yuoak / DigitalVision Vectors

With the recent coverage on issues of social injustice, the question that comes to my mind for our industry is one of diversity in our leadership.

I want to answer the question: Is diversity good for the landscape industry and good for your business?

Boston Consulting Group did a study two years ago on how well companies perform that have “diverse” leadership. They studied more than 1,700 companies and found that those with diverse leadership grew on average 19 percent faster.

These companies were more innovative and had a stronger response to market changes.

Why is diversity a good thing?

First, take a look at the concept of “diversification.”

We all know it’s a powerful business strategy, whether you are investing in the stock market or diversifying your client base or your product offerings.

It’s also good for agriculture, common in nature (biodiversity) and even in English gardens.

So how does diversity apply to the way you lead your business?

Let’s define diversity — it means a diverse group of minds, ideas and approaches. It can apply to sex, color, religion, educational background or even “green industry” background.

Forbes magazine was quoted as saying that diversity “allows teams to find a solution that takes into account multiple angles to the problem, thus making the solution stronger, well-rounded and optimized. Therefore, diversity is key for a company’s bottom line.”

It boils down to this: What is your chance of maximizing growth and innovation if you build a team where everyone already thinks, looks and acts like you?

Teams that are a monoculture tend to develop “group think” (where the group is afraid to develop contrary opinions) and tend to make mistakes easier and get stuck in the status quo.

So where do you begin if you want more diversity?

The main challenge is in the actual hiring. It’s not easy because we are more comfortable hanging out with people who think the way we do, and enjoy the same things we do. So it takes pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

  • Start by stretching yourself in how you write your job ads. Make them more open and attractive, and not pigeon-holed to our industry.
  • Use a more structured interview process, with a checklist of experiences and values you want to hire, so you don’t go off of gut instinct.
  • Use personality profiles to ensure you bring in people who have different personality types onto your team. Fill in the holes on your team with new types of people.
  • Develop a team of diverse employees to be part of the interviewing process, so you can get candid feedback on the value the new person can bring.

Obviously, you need people who match your business values, but they can come in all sexes, shapes, sizes and colors.

Stay safe this year, and let me know how it goes building up a stronger and more diverse leadership team.

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Jeffrey Scott

About the Author:

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author, specializes in growth and profit maximization in the Green Industry. His expertise is rooted in his personal success, growing his own company into a $10 million enterprise. Now, he facilitates the Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners—members achieve a 27 percent profit increase in their first year. To learn more visit www.GetTheLeadersEdge.com.

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