I marvel at the diversity and beautiful forms found among ferns. Having lived in the temperate rainforests of the coastal Pacific Northwest my whole life, I appreciate the lavish carpet of evergreen ferns that cover the forest floor. Tucked into rocky crevices or found growing along woodland trails is a dainty gem, Asplenium trichomanes, or maidenhair spleenwort.
There are native populations of this lovely fern growing on every continent except Antarctica, and it can be found growing in 45 U.S. states, giving it the distinction of being a “native” almost anywhere in the United States and Canada.
The alluring evergreen fronds of A. trichomanesprovide for year-round interest in the woodland garden. Its compact habit makes it ideal to nestle into rock or alpine gardens. It will do well with a generous amount of sun, though I’d keep it out of direct mid-day sun in all but temperate coastal climates. It can even be grown vertically in outdoor living walls. The jet-black stipes (stems) lined with button-shaped pinnae make this choice fern irresistible to gardeners.
I talked to Sue Olsen, founder of the Hardy Fern Foundation and author of “Encyclopedia of Garden Ferns,” about A. trichomanes, who said, “One of my very favorite ferns. Outstanding low evergreen for the garden's foreground or your rock crevice. Tolerates most exposures and is an eye-catching prize for all to admire and enjoy.”
Richie Steffen, executive director of the Elizabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden and co-author of A Plant Lovers Guide to Ferns, added, “Asplenium trichomanes is one of the best and easiest of the dwarf ferns to grow. It has a ‘cute’ factor that’s charming in any container.”
Mark Leichty is the Director of Business Development at Little Prince of Oregon Nursery near Portland. He is a certified plant geek who enjoys visiting beautiful gardens and garden centers searching for rare and unique plants to satisfy his plant lust. email@example.com
Asian Citrus Psyllid
Departments - Under the Microscope
This imported pest munches citrus plants and carries a deadly tree disease.
The Asian citrus psyllid is an aphid-like insect that feeds on the leaves and stems of citrus plants. The psyllid can carry and spread a deadly tree disease called Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening disease. There is no cure for this disease and infected trees will die.
California’s Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program collaborated with the University of California Cooperative Extension and the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside to develop a best practices guide for nurseries to use when working with citrus nursery stock to avoid spreading the Asian citrus psyllid.
“It’s not just a California issue – we’ve got problems with ACP in Arizona, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, many different states,” says Victoria Hornbaker, integrated pest control branch chief for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “But for us in California, our big concern is we are in the process of trying to slow the spread of the psyllid in our state. The nurseries are a partner with us. Getting the information to the nurseries in as many ways as we can will help us gain the momentum to make sure it’s on their mind.”
May I ask a favor, to have three minutes of your time to consider a problem in our industry that no one is talking about? I’d like to ask you to read this through to the end, even if it’s a little uncomfortable. Perhaps especially if it’s uncomfortable.
More than 20 years ago, I was on the staff of a national nonprofit organization. A board member — the CEO of a Fortune 500 company — showed up at my hotel room door late at night, under ridiculously flimsy pretenses, seeking sexual gratification. It was neither my first nor last experience with questionable conduct in a professional environment, but it was one of the most blatant.
I’ve told that story a lot through the years. It happened shortly before I came to work with the green industry, an industry that felt kinder, gentler, safer. We are good people.
Surely by now, you’ve heard about the “Harvey Weinstein effect.” We are in a bit of a cultural watershed moment. Daily, fresh stories of sexual harassment, misconduct, rape, assault and some just plain poor taste are emerging. Stories of men abusing their position of power over women (and sometimes, over other men as well.) These stories are coming from so many industries … politics/government, journalism, entertainment, technology, hospitality, finance, manufacturing.
Here in the green industry, we’re an industry rooted in family values, farming, agriculture, passion for nature, faith. All of that is true — I’ve seen it. I have seen the very best of us through these 20 years. Some of my dearest friends, adopted family, and my husband come from this industry.
Sadly, I have also seen some of the worst of us.
As a society, we need to stop apologizing for the creeps.
Yes — we are people of faith, people of the land, proud family business owners, self-identified plant geeks, people who are kind and generous and willing to help our fellow businesses in an emergency. We are also an industry made up predominantly of men in positions of leadership. And thus, we are not immune.
Looking broadly at the industry, I also know that these are our uncomfortable truths:
There are “handsy” guys at pretty much every event that I have ever attended. A too-long hug, a roaming hand when photos are being taken, an uninvited shoulder massage, a blatant groping.
There are customers at tradeshow booths or in your sales yard, leering at women with thinly veiled come-ons, trying to cajole favors from your sales reps or office staff, or who linger just a little too long, tell a provocative joke, seem just a little too suggestive, stand just a little too close.
There are truck drivers who make inappropriate comments or wolf-whistle to the women on your staff when they deliver.
There are people calling women they work with (or the waitress at the restaurant) “baby, honey, sweetie” without thinking. Are they coming on to us, or can they just not be bothered to remember our names?
There are married men attending events (the “tradeshow syndrome”) who suddenly flirt shamelessly, making women who they work with professionally all year long uncomfortable. There are open extramarital affairs going on — wink, wink: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
Every one of those examples is a true story, or many true stories, from a woman in this industry.
Far too often, all of this behavior is “brushed off” as, “Oh, that’s just (INSERT NAME HERE). He doesn’t mean any harm. Maybe he’s had one too many drinks. Don’t let it bother you.”
But it should bother us — all of us — men and women alike. As a society, we need to stop apologizing for the creeps. We need to stop brushing bad behavior under the rug. We — the green industry — need to open our eyes to the fact that we are not immune.
Like so many women, I am usually sufficiently smart/strong/confident to get out of a difficult situation — to ease away, to make light of it, to get myself into a safer place. I have always been fortunate enough to feel secure that my job wasn’t in jeopardy for telling (INSERT NAME HERE), “NO.” But I lose sleep at night thinking about the woman making $12 an hour who is too meek to push back, who fears reporting her coworker/supervisor because it might mean losing the job that keeps a roof over her kids’ heads. I write this today for her. Because we can’t fix a problem we can’t discuss.
Back when I managed events for ANLA, there was a pre-meeting before every travel event. At every one, we made it a point (with then-EVP, Bob Dolibois, leading the charge) to tell our staff team that there was absolutely no point at which the organizational ethic of “member service” should be put ahead of your own individual right to safety, comfort, and personal space. We made it clear that the organization “had their back” if they needed to take any measure to step out of an uncomfortable situation. Period. No questions asked. It was our job to create a safe work environment for our team.
Gentlemen of the green industry (and yes, the vast majority of you truly are gentlemen), I want to let you in on a secret: we ladies have an unwritten code about these kinds of things. I could walk up to a strange woman in a bar and give her a look, whispering, “This guy is creepy, can I sit with you?” and she will treat me as if we were long–lost sorority sisters. But this industry doesn’t have enough women “on the scene.” So through the years, one of my most effective coping mechanisms was to create a massive “adopted family” for myself: a whole cadre of “uncles” and “big brothers” who I could count on in an instant if I needed support at an event, if I needed a backup, an escape, an escort, a safe place. Which is great, but it would have been far better to have never felt like I needed it.
The commercial horticulture industry is still very much male-dominated. Translation: Statistically, we have more potential abusers among us, and fewer safer spaces.
But I think we can be different. I’d like to look at that same statistic as having more allies: more “big brothers” and “adopted uncles” looking out for the women around us. (I also believe that the industry would benefit from having more women in leadership positions, but that’s a different topic.)
Maybe you’re all-too-familiar with these stories. Or maybe this is all new to you, and a bit shocking.
(Did you see that “(INSERT NAME HERE)” above? While every one of those examples is true, I didn’t write this to name names, or call out any one person or situation specifically. But honestly, I don’t know any woman — in this industry or otherwise — who hasn’t had an uncomfortable experience at some point in her life.)
If you’re not part of the problem, you need to be part of the solution.
If you haven’t heard these stories, if you’re struggling to believe me, I encourage you to start a conversation: ask the women around you to share their stories. I’m asking you to pay a little more attention to predatory, tasteless or just “walking the fine line of inappropriate” behavior going on around you. (Also, while policy manuals and HR aren’t a “silver bullet,” this is a great time to make sure your company has a robust policy and process around handling sexual harassment and misconduct.)
None of us are completely innocent here, we’re all human, we’ve all laughed at an inappropriate joke, made a comment that could have been misconstrued, said something without thinking and realized, “Oh, that probably didn’t come out right.” Times are changing. We keep evolving. And as Maya Angelou famously said, “When we know better, we do better.”
Women can’t solve this. This is a problem that men are uniquely positioned to fix, and it’s simple: If you see something, say something. Step into the situation. Offer to get someone home (or up in an elevator) safely. Say, “Hey, that’s not cool” to the guy getting handsy or with the tasteless jokes. If you’re not part of the problem, you need to be part of the solution.
If you’re a man still reading this (thank you) — as we turn the calendar into 2018, I’d ask you simply to think a little bit about how you can be an even better “big brother” or “adopted uncle” in the year ahead.
No, we aren’t immune, but I believe we can be different.
Thanks for listening. I also hope you’ll be willing to add your voice to the conversation.
Check any news outlet today, and you’re almost certain to hear about a new sexual misconduct scandal involving an executive, politician or entertainer. I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost count of the number of alleged harassers. The allegations are nothing short of shocking, ranging from offensive acts of sexual harassment to criminal acts of sexual assault. In response, a multitude of corporations and — in a surprise move — the House of Representatives are mandating sexual harassment training for all employees.
The surge of sexual misconduct allegations has, once again, put sexual harassment in the spotlight. But this time, the allegations are sparking conversations about organizational culture and values, which can be the root cause for promoting and tolerating harassment. In light of the media attention on sexual misconduct in the workplace, at a minimum, every employer ought to take stock of their sexual harassment policy and processes to safeguard their business from a surprise claim.
Sexual harassment is a prohibited form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal law is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and covers businesses with 15 or more employees in 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding year. Even if your business is not covered by Title VII, it may be covered by a state, local, or county anti-discrimination law that prohibits workplace harassment for smaller businesses.
Even before this surge of accusations (and in some cases, apologies) that began with Harvey Weinstein, harassment was a big problem in workplaces. According to the EEOC, approximately one in four women (25 percent) have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. And, last year alone, the EEOC resolved 30,582 harassment cases, resulting in $125.5 million in monetary benefits to employees. This doesn’t tell the whole story though. Aside from court awards and monetary settlements, companies with claims face significant direct financial costs associated with legal representation and indirect costs associated with lower morale, decreased productivity, distractions, increased turnover, and a negative public perception.
Sexual conduct becomes unlawful under employment regulations when it is unwelcome and severe or pervasive enough to affect the employee’s employment. Problem is, everyone defines “unwelcome” differently. Today, employees who refuse unwanted sexual advances, but who suffer no negative job consequences, can file discrimination complaints. In addition, an employer can be held liable for sexual harassment by a supervisor even if it had no knowledge of the supervisor’s misconduct. Gone are the days of “hear no evil, see no evil, know no evil” defenses. If your business receives a charge of sexual harassment discrimination from the EEOC or another fair employment practices agency and you can’t prove that you attempted to prevent harassment and that you adequately addressed the compliant, you’re considered guilty.
No question, the rules have changed. And let’s not forget the undeniable evidence of harassment that social media, recording devices on phones, and hidden cameras provide. But, undeniable evidence of harassment is not required for a company to take employment action against an alleged harasser. What is required is an adequate investigation conducted by an unbiased party (usually not the alleged harasser’s boss) and, oftentimes, a credibility judgment call after the investigation is completed and all facts and information are considered. Making a credibility judgment can be uncomfortable for some employers, but at times, is necessary. According to the EEOC, the fact that there are no eye witnesses, no direct evidence of harassment, and/or no admission by the accused does not necessarily defeat the complainant’s credibility.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these elements are necessary before acting. The probable cause standard adopted by law enforcement does not apply to employment decisions made by employers. And, by all means, don’t adopt a “three strikes and you’re out” philosophy when it comes to harassment. Permitting an alleged harasser to remain employed until there are three complaints against him or her is a potentially dangerous and costly approach to resolving workplace harassment complaints and one that should never be adopted. In essence, this practice sends a message that it takes three incidents of harassment before one is deemed to be credible. (As if the volume of complaints makes a difference in determining if they are credible.)
Many sexual harassment incidents in the workplace can be avoided by simply ensuring professional communication in the workplace.
To reduce exposure to sexual harassment and to create an organizational culture that prevents harassment, every employer ought to adopt a three-prong approach:
First, develop, disseminate, and vigorously enforce a comprehensive policy against harassment. Ensure your policy forbids harassment; provides multiple channels for making complaints known to management; commits to conducting a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation; ensures confidentiality to the extent possible; and prohibits retaliation.
Second, conduct periodic sexual harassment training at all levels. Allocate the necessary resources to harassment training. Consider it an investment. Include the CEO or president and all managers in the training. Document attendance. Absent a state regulation that requires otherwise, sexual harassment training should be conducted annually at every business.
Third, take every complaint seriously and investigate immediately. It doesn’t matter if the complaint is lodged by a “habitual trouble-maker,” if it involves an allegation against a customer (employers have the same responsibility when the claim involves a customer), if it seems trivial, or if the complainant will not submit the complaint in writing. Investigate it immediately, using a well-trained, objective, and neutral investigator. When necessary, hire a third-party, qualified consultant to conduct a comprehensive investigation. Then, take appropriate action based on the results. Enforce a culture of accountability when it comes to harassment.
Many sexual harassment incidents in the workplace can be avoided by simply ensuring professional communication in the workplace. Managers must “model the behavior desired and required.” Here are some other common-sense tips for management:
Avoid references to employees’ physical appearance and comments about sex.
Develop and distribute an electronic systems policy prohibiting sexually-related e-mail messages, jokes, and photos. Use software to block access to inappropriate websites.
Avoid physical contact with an employee—respect an individual’s personal space.
Use professional settings when conducting meetings outside the workplace.
Recommunicate your policy prohibiting harassment prior to holiday parties and social events.
Be conscious that “no” means “no,” no matter how softly spoken.
Keep in mind that workplace favoritism can lead to hostile environment claims.
Avoid workplace romances. They can be fertile ground for hostile work environment claims, even when they are initially consensual.
Do not condone offensive terms, sexually degrading words, or sexual jokes.
Watch for signs and learn how to read people. People want to be accepted by their peers and may be reluctant to report harassment.
A single incident or isolated incidents of offensive sexual conduct or remarks generally do not create an abusive/hostile environment; however, a single, unusually severe incident of harassment (e.g., unwelcome, intentional touching of a person’s intimate body areas) may be sufficient to constitute a Title VII violation. The more severe the harassment, the less need to show a repetitive series of incidents, particularly when the harassment is physical.
When it comes to harassment, don’t assume that an employee’s initial acceptance of harassing conduct waives his or her right to complain later. Conduct that is initially welcomed may later be unwelcomed. In addition, voluntary submission to sexual conduct does not necessarily defeat a claim if the victim’s conduct indicates that the alleged sexual advances are unwelcomed. Finally, the “it was invited” defense doesn’t go too far with the EEOC. Their position is that participation in sexual conduct and provocative speech or dress do not necessarily show that sexual behavior was welcomed.
The best way to reduce exposure and limit liability is to take proactive measures to discourage harassment in the workplace, including proper and ongoing training of managers and supervisors. This type of training is a wise investment that can save your company countless dollars.
If you haven’t conducted or arranged for sexual harassment training within the last year, now is the time. Don’t wait until your company is trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons.
The information in this article is not legal advice. For legal advice, readers should consult with an attorney.
Jean Seawright, CMC is president of Seawright & Associates, a management consulting firm located in Winter Park, Florida. firstname.lastname@example.org
Office romances: what you should know
Departments - Heart of Business
Seven ways to keep dating in the workplace from harming productivity and morale.
Given that we spend a significant portion of our life at work, it’s easy to understand how work place romances get started. However, with harassment in the workplace becoming a widespread concern, it’s important to keep a few things in mind when considering office relationships.
Company policy. If dating is prohibited, don’t turn a blind eye.
Roles. Power imbalances are taboo in workplace relationships. Owners and direct managers need to be particularly mindful as employees may fear retaliation and the loss of their job or upward mobility should they say no or things end in a breakup. Bottom line, no one should ever date a supervisee. If dating isn’t prohibited, immediately move supervision to someone else.
Marital status. Starting a relationship in the workplace is for singles only. If someone is married, they are off limits. End of discussion. Reputations are ruined, gossip will abound forever, and trust will nosedive, all of which negatively impact the workplace and productivity. Inappropriateness of flirting and sexual banter.
Flirting is likely to make at least some employees and coworkers feel uncomfortable. Additionally, there is absolutely no place in today’s workplace for sexual comments. Not ever! If you or one of your employees is interested in someone, ensure that interest is expressed respectfully and reciprocated. Sexual comments and unwanted advances can lead to accusations of sexual harassment.
When there is a romantic relationship, it is each individual’s job to keep their dating separate from their work, to treat everyone fairly, and to maintain professionalism at all times. Having a fight? Not ok to bring it into work. Physical affection? Stays outside the workplace. Long lunches or breaks? Unacceptable. Preferential treatment, private jokes, lingering glances, or excluding others? Inexcusable.
Potential relationship issues or fallout.
What happens if it doesn’t work out? Whether it’s you or an employee, If the vast majority of your relationships end in drama and hurt, or you're a serial dater, I strongly advise against a work place romance. Good breakups require maintaining privacy and treating the other person with dignity and respect. Tough to do when someone is hurting.
In order to keep a productive, united workplace, ask employees to predetermine how they will handle things if the relationship doesn’t work out. Request that they refrain from discussing relationship ups and downs or a breakup with co-workers. If you see them moving from relationship to relationship, ask that they not start another workplace romance after they’ve broken someone’s heart. It’s one thing to realize two people aren’t a match. It’s another thing to regularly remind a co-worker that they aren’t enough.
Address dating head on.
People are always watching and gossip is a natural consequence when behaviors change. Ask employees to let others know if they decide to start dating. They shouldn’t elaborate beyond the fact that others might have noticed their interest in each other and that they are dating.
Employees or co-workers already married? The standard is to keep it professional at all times. This entails protecting their relationship, employees and colleagues by refraining from complaining, talking about their relationship, or bringing arguments into the workplace.
Supervising dating employees? Once again, the standard is professionalism at all times. If their behaviors are negatively impacting their performance, other employees or workplace stability, it’s your job to hold them accountable for their workplace conduct.
At the end of the day, people are hired to do a job. Encourage employees to keep their eye on their job and their private life private. Everyone wins when workplaces avoid and avert relational drama.
Sherene is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach who demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Learn how Sherene can empower and equip your team to boost engagement, enhance effectiveness and raise productivity at sherenemchenry.com.