Diversity and inclusion in horticulture - with Adrian Wickham and Tessa Johnstone

This episode Glendale's director of corporate development Adrian Wickham and Tessa Johnstone of Johnstone's Landscapes return to the Horticulture Week Podcast to give us an update on their important work on improving diversity in horticulture industry.

Both members of the BALI board, they joined various industry associations to sign Equality Diversity and Inclustion (EDI) charter last year and they talk about the work and aspirations around the charter including the ever-present skills shortage.

They have expanded their work to reach out to all areas of horticulture and collaboration is a key way they hope to make progress which includes sharing work and good practice in EDI, setting benchmarking and helping organisations upskill in this area.

Adrian has created an industry standard questionnaire to gain an industry "baseline" to, as Tessa says, "not just be a tickbox exercise but something that guides us through and does actually achieve change in the industry".

The survey, which is for those employed in horticulture (not volunteers) can be found here and will run until mid September. The results will be shared at a round table/panel discussion at Wisley in September.

Tessa and Adrian discuss progress achieved since we last spoke to them (in 2021 - listen here) which includes a greater awareness in the horticulture industry. 

Adrian outlines improvements in Glendale including mental health training carried out in collaboration with horticulture charity Perennial. The company has also joined the Design Lab - a London-based initiative, to examine and encourage best practice.

A key area of improvement is how to improve recruitment practice - application forms, wording on job ads, approaches to interviews - to more effectively give opportunities to people to more diverse backgrounds. Adrian speaks about initiatives working with prison populations. And Tessa outlines ways to close the gender pay gap and measures she's taken in her own business to improve EDI - including signing up to the 'Disabilty Confident' scheme and taking on a new employee with autism.

In summary, businesses should be less afraid of 'doing it wrong' and look into small ways they can improve. "Everybody has unconscious bias" says Adrian, adding "don't be afraid of your thoughts".

Last year, BALI also appointed Four Equity Ambassadors who will help its mission to bring about positive change and improve accessibility for all into the landscape industry

They are: 

  • Manoj Malde, an award-winning garden designer, TV presenter, public speaker and RHS judge

  • Mark Lane TV gardening presenter, landscape designer and writer

  • Flo Headlam, a horticulturist, designer and the first black presenter on BBC’s Gardeners’ World

  • Ashley Edwards, a graduate of The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Head Gardener at Horatio’s Garden in London. BBC Radio 4 Gardener's Question Time Panelist and Chair of the London Gardens Network

Presenter: HortWeek senior reporter Rachael Forsyth
Producer: HortWeek digital content manager Christina Taylor

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If you are interested in producing a podcast with HortWeek, contact hortweek@haymarket.com.

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