Author Christina Herrick, Landscape Management Magazine
It’s no secret that men outnumber women in the green industry, and while H. Jaclyn Ishimaru-Gachina, president and CEO of Gachina Landscape Management in Menlo Park, Calif., says her upper management and executive team is 50 percent female, her operation’s focus has been to foster and encourage women in entry-level positions within the organization.
In her San Francisco branch, there are four women working in the field out of a total of 42. All employees go through a thorough training program before being placed with a crew where human resources seeks out the right position for the female applicants.
“Maybe a woman can’t carry 25 to 50 pounds, but because she’s got a good eye for detail and can do hands-on tasks, she’s very good at pruning,” she says. “We make adjustments in the crew; (women are) assigned tasks that they can competently accomplish.”
And while male employees make up approximately 98 percent of her team, she is passionate about caring for the 98 percent, just as much as for the 2 percent. Gachina believes in raising awareness of the Movember men’s health movement. Movember is a nonprofit dedicated to the prevention of men’s health issues including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide.
It hits home for her because her husband, John, passed away from prostate cancer. Prostate cancer will affect one in eight men according figures from the Movember Movement, but if the disease is caught early, Gachina says men have a 96 percent chance of survival. If it’s detected late, the figure drops to 26 percent. And with an employee mix primarily of men, that figure is staggering.
Gachina says, for example, the landscape industry employs about 1 million people. And, if you take that one in eight figure, approximately 125,000 workers in the landscape industry could be diagnosed. “We’re short on labor, but we have a disease that will take that many people out,” she says, encouraging other operations to care for their male employees.
Gachina Landscape Management has conducted fundraising and beard-growing competitions during the month of November, but Gachina realized the education component was missing. She had to help overcome some misunderstanding within her own Hispanic workers about testing. The screening is part of a yearly wellness exam, which is covered by the operation’s health insurance. Gachina encourages other landscape companies to be proactive in educating male employees on the importance of screenings and tests.
In fact, last year one of her employees went for a screening and was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was early, and with treatment the prognosis is good. “He has a very good chance of survival,” she says.