A Diverse Workplace

The faces of America’s horticultural workforce are increasingly diverse as more and more companies are meeting their employment needs with nontraditional workers. Workers from Mexico and Central America have filled the majority of field positions in American nursery, arborist, and landscape firms since the mid-1980s. They are an increasingly impor­tant human resource in the turf industries as well. For many Hispanic workers, their seasonal employment in America is valued for the higher wages they can earn compared to their home country. They also value the opportunity it gives them to return home during the off-season. As skilled alien workers learn English, they gain the opportunity to advance within their companies to fill positions of greater responsibility and leadership. Asians and Asian American workers are also increasingly present in the green industry workforce. By the mid-point of the 21st century, citizens of Asian heritage are predicted to represent 25 percent or more of the population, so their presence in the shops, sales yards, and offices of horticultural firms can be expected.

The incorporation of immigrant workers into a traditional American workforce presents a challenge to those who lead and supervise. Cultural differences, complicated by language difficulties, can build barriers between employees and reduce productivity. An effective leader must develop methods of addressing, correcting, and surmounting these dif­ferences and difficulties.