Shining a light for women in FM
In a fast-evolving industry, is there sustainable change to encourage and promote more women in FM? We talk with Kristiana Greenwood, the first female elected to the Chair of the FMA national board, who is shining a light on the value women bring to the FM, property, engineering and construction industries through her new coaching and mentoring venture, Real Energy Co.
Written by Annie Reid
“Encouraging more women to work in FM helps generate a greater diversity of thought and insight and our industry has been very understanding of this combined with initiatives that have come from our peak industry body, the FMA,” Greenwood says.
In the last two years, a huge shift is seeing the traditional FM role move from ‘maintenance’ to become a strategic and tactical role as well as an operational role that requires good management, negotiation and contractual skills, combined with strong empathetic skills.
“The change is partly influenced by the general increase in diverse leadership roles across all business, as we need to recognise the varying requirements of the built environment for all cultures and genders,” she says.
Facility managers now exercise a lot of control over the built environment, meaning they can create a profound impact on occupants’ productivity as well as their health and wellbeing.
“If FM teams aren’t diverse themselves, we cannot ensure we are truly understanding and empathetic to increasingly diverse populations and their unique requirements,” she adds.
There have been several initiatives to support the shift, led by the FMA’s Diversity Portfolio Group. These include a new Diversity Award presented at the FMA’s annual national awards night, education and networking events for women in FM, the FMA Indigenous Engagement Strategy and a diversity scholarship for the FM diploma.
As a result, the gender and cultural mix at all FMA events has increased to almost 40 percent.
Greenwood also reports a strong response to her business, where she workshops with female participants and reports back to management to help with initiatives to attract key female talent and become employers of choice for women in the industry.
“Women typically thrive in an environment where they feel valued and it’s not hard to shift the culture to become an employer of choice,” she says.
Above all, she recognises that women in a typically male-dominated industry need support from their peers and other female leaders and would like companies in the FM industry to put in place initiatives to enable their female talent to thrive.
“For example, mentoring programs, which can be internal programs with both male and female mentors, awards programs, recognition programs, pay parity and parental leave pay to name a few. If companies want to increase productivity and retain key staff, they need to listen to their own staff, and act,” she says.
She says it’s realistic too.
“FM companies just need to shift their culture to address the needs of the next generation. It’s not a difficult task with some guidance and feedback from the actual employees who have the potential to make their business a success.”
Facilities management continues to remain a predominantly male-dominated industry. But while it may not see the end of tools on belts and hard hats on desks just yet, times are changing, and increasing signs of diversity is encouraging.