In the FM industry, the further up the employment chain you look - the fewer women that occupy key roles. This is something we see industry-wide, with some reports stating that just 3 - 4% of CEOs worldwide are women. However, there are much more women taking up entry-level positions in the industry. So what is it that puts women off from working in Facilities Management and progressing to managerial roles further up the career ladder?
Updating Ideas in the Office Environment
One of the main reasons that seems to explain the lack of women occupying managerial level professions is something that is endemic in many industries; the often outdated and sometimes restrictive views of the older, more experienced workers in FM. Experienced workers can bring a lot of abilities to the table, but reflecting on how times have changed is not productive. Encourage workers in your business to focus on inclusivity; even if this means changes in the workplace and workforce approach to accommodate new styles of working.
Workplaces often have limited flexibility; which can be a problem for women climbing the career ladder. This flexibility in the workplace can be an issue for women that do have caregiving responsibilities, and whilst flexibility in the office should be a given - in many workplaces it still remains a luxury. Ideas such as this need to change in FM for the industry to become more inclusive and accepting of women and for women to also feel more confident in progressing further in their FM careers.
Increasing Representation and Role Models
Gender balance in the workplace is of utmost importance to encourage more women into the FM industry. Encouraging women who are in entry level roles to progress further in their FM careers is important, but this is only achievable through creating strong support networks. Try looking for mentoring groups, but if a group doesn’t already exist - maybe this is something you can create yourself. Acknowledge the different ways that men and women interact and communicate - but use this to your advantage. Women are often better empathizers and communicators - so utilise your skills in ways that can be advantageous. Look to role models in other industries and how they have utilised their skills to explode the outdated myths that surround women working at managerial or higher levels.
Innovation and Adaptation
Work for companies that are open to women working in managerial roles and are modern in their approach to a flexible office. Companies like this will most likely also be embracing new ideas and also new tech. Innovation is key, so make sure you have an emphasis on embracing new ways of working and have an open mind. Successful women in FM are highly organised and efficient, whilst new developing technology and applications can help you to build on these skills.
Applications such as Okappy use job management software to digitise many day-to-day paperwork tasks. Not only does this simplify work timelines and increase efficiency, but this innovative approach to job management allows for more transparency and accountability. Applications such as Okappy improve relationships and communications between businesses and subcontractors. Utilise new technology that can help you in the office to be super-efficient and successful. Project management technology such as Monday and collaborative working applications such as Trello and Asana can also help for employees to work collaboratively and effectively together.
Disrupting the Status Quo
The way offices and business are working is changing - from remote working to flexible hours - businesses are embracing new strategies and approaches. Disrupting the status quo can bring positive change - don’t apologise for your position and try to advance the way that your company works by incorporating new ideas and ways of working. Women working in HVAC will progress more into managerial positions - but this first requires a change of attitude in some workplaces.