Encouraging More Women to Apply for FM Roles

Here at Maxwell Stephens, we’ve seen the number of women enter the industry and use our services climb since we set up in 2006.

It’s always great to break artificial glass ceilings in any industry. Society benefits from it as a whole. The need to get more women into FM roles as soon as possible is taking on an added importance as it looks like demand for FM professionals will continue to outstrip supply for some time to come.

The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) have their own special interest group, “Women In FM.” It offers an “inclusive and supportive environment” to its members and encourages both women and men to focus on their CPD.

For its members, it offers to raise their profile in the industry, to be a central point for advice, to be a platform for sharing successes and each other’s experiences, and to give a heads-up for new FM roles.

As an employer, they would certainly welcome your interest and your contributions. Their committee chair is Simi Gandhi-Whitaker. You can call her on 07773 172 218 or email her. You can also subscribe to their0 often-updated Twitter feed at @BIFM_WIFM.

What further factors may be stopping women from getting into the business?

According to FacilityDude, “the key lies with the way that the industry is positioned to potential applicants. It goes back to the old paradigm of facility management being a maintenance-centric one. With so few women in maintenance fields, it’s no surprise that the percentages of those who enter facility management are similarly low”. Bingo! We think this is a brilliant point.

Maintenance is an important part of FM, but it’s by far from the only part. You only need to look at the general syllabus for an FM degree to see that. For example, the modules on offer over the first two years at the University of Central Lancaster include “Construction Technology, Sustainable Environment, Professional Practice (in 2 parts), Introduction to Law & Procurement, Management & Economics, Construction Technology, Building Services, Health & Safety, Production Economics, Construction Law, Management & Project Planning, and Professional Practice”.

FacilityDude continues, “by highlighting the other competencies and skills germane to the facility management industry, women from other backgrounds can see how their unique experiences are useful.”

FM is so much more than just maintenance. Over the last 20-25 years, it’s morphed into a vital, multi-faceted role that means an FM professional is crucial to the smooth, effective and cost-efficient running of sites. This added complexity means that fewer and fewer people believe that FM is still run by some unreconstructed boys’ network (OBN).

The OBN may not have completely disappeared in all places but demographics will finally kill it off anyway. As younger people come into the industry with more “enlightened” attitudes, women achieving managerial and senior positions in FM will simply be viewed as the meritocratic outcome of the application of their skills, attitude and determination.

Maxwell Stephens would like to point you in the direction of some amazing articles on this subject. On New Years Day 2008, this stunning piece from Jenna M Aker, then new products editor at Buildings Magazine, shared the experiences and insights from female facilities professionals in FM.

In a sidebar to the piece, she recalls the advice given in the “Minding The Gap” document published by the CREW Network, which describes itself as “influencing the success of the commercial real estate industry by advancing the achievements of women”. Highly recommended.

In December 2014, Elizabeth Dukes, previously a star saleswomen in a large facility and office service outsourcing firm, wrote a great article entitled “Why Are There More Men Than Women In Facilities Management Profession”.

She details the four main reasons why she believes there is an under-representation of women in FM positions, quickly followed by advice on how women can “break into – and be successful in – the facilities management industry.”

Maxwell Stephens’ candidate database includes some truly amazing, accomplished female FM professionals that would add tons of value to any organisation. As a business, we are gender-blind – we simply recommend those FM leaders we know are properly suited to the role you’ve got on offer.

If you’d like to talk with us about ways to make your organisation even more female-friendly than it is, or you’d like to share your experiences, we’d love to hear from you. Our number is 0207 118 48 48 or please email us at info@maxwellstephens.com.

Peter Forshaw – Managing Director – Maxwell Stephens