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Industry Overview


It seems obvious that for FM to be successful in all these ways, we need to ensure we have the right people: a good, creative and effective mix across all criteria – age, gender, experience, ethnicity, abled/disabled and more. However, FM at the managerial level has a problem, a long-standing issue that some in the past have referred to as a ‘demographic timebomb’. In essence the issue is this: we need to


attract new blood into the industry, as too much of the senior team is still comprised mainly of 45+ year-old white males without FM qualifi cations. This is changing slowly as the industry matures, but we need a genuine transformation to a more healthy mix of people, from different backgrounds, with a variety of qualifi cations and talents, and a commitment to career- building that will ensure FM fl ourishes in an ever-changing market environment.


The gender issue Consider just one of the key dimensions of that healthy mix – gender. You might not be aware that a ‘glass ceiling’ (or a ‘sticky fl oor’) exists in many parts of FM, preventing women from getting the roles they deserve. But we should be both aware and care if we want FM to thrive. In a recent conversation with one


woman director of an FM service provider, the subject of the career ladder came up. She laughed: “It’s not a ladder so much,” she said, “really more of a jungle gym.” That got me thinking: FM does have some women even at MD level, and they do some amazing work; but the balance in the middle to senior levels generally is not good. As the FM Coach, former deputy chair of BIFM and a regular trainer at BIFM courses, Liz Kentish is perfectly placed to note a simple fact: “Facilities managers are huge infl uencers in their organisations, if they realise it or not.” It is important that as infl uencers, we have our own house in order and that we are not guilty of inequality. It is not just about the numbers; it’s about success and being an effective and appropriate model for successful workplace strategies and successful businesses.


Setting an example It’s great to see that some organisations in our sector are leading the way on equality


policies and actions: Sodexo, Bouygues and Mitie are a few of the best known. Special interest groups such as the BIFM’s Women in FM SIG are also setting an example. Last year, I was invited to be the treasurer of WiFM – a role that I am pleased I accepted, as it’s given me the opportunity of meeting and working with some amazing FMs that I might not have met otherwise. Moreover, as a SIG we have won the BIFM’s SIG of the Year Award, and additionally our deputy chair Tanya Horscroft this year won both the BIFM Volunteer of the Year and the Rising Talent in FM Awards. WiFM has established itself as a group that listens to the needs of its members and the wider BIFM membership, and produces events and programmes to support them. It is not elitist or cliquey – it’s an inclusive and supportive environment. The SIG prides itself on demonstrating professional values and competences, and on encouraging both men and women to focus on their continuing professional development…exactly what the wider FM sector needs to do more of. There has been some notable success on the wider stage: for the past two years the Women in the City Woman of Achievement Award has been won by a woman in facilities management, seeing off contenders in other professional services including IT, fi nance and healthcare. We should be proud that we have great talents like Katrina Dowding and Debra Ward in our industry. But we also need to recognise that we have to do more – and it’s not just up to women to pursue the cause. FM needs to be recognised as positive and inclusive if it is to continue to thrive. We need to encourage women into the profession – and more diversity generally – nurturing people to grow and develop with the industry. We all have a part to play in this, as well as a responsibility to play that part well.





It’s not a ladder so much, really more of a jungle gym





Author information


David Emanuel is Managing Director at i-FM.


FACILITIES 11


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