Not just a man’s world – diversity in facilities management
Spring Professional is an international recruitment firm specialising in attracting talent for the FM industry. Associate director – facilities management, Louise Rowe sits down with Annie Reid for a Q&A session on how her business is adapting to new trends in diversity.
Q: What are the key issues around diversity in facilities management workplaces?
A: One of the key issues is getting facilities management (FM) recognised as a profession so that school leavers, students and people working within the property industry see the profession as an exciting and credible career that is open to them. As the FM industry matures and moves away from a technical focus, towards service delivery, relationship building, commercials and output, we have seen more women the workplace – although overall it is very much an ageing workforce too – but we need to make sure the profession is positioned as an appealing option.
Diversity is about giving everyone fair and equal opportunity – we need to open our workplaces to a more diverse range of people and give them the same opportunities to succeed. Furthermore, we need measures to ensure change is ingrained from the top, and which are irrespective of gender, and without judgement around ethnicity, sexuality or gender to ensure the best person for the job is hired.
Q: What processes are you putting in place at Spring Professional to champion diversity in the industry?
A: Spring has a full diversity policy in place and is strongly committed to championing diversity. And as a leading recruitment agency in FM, our consultants are trained to treat candidates with their utmost attention and provide shortlists that are diverse, appropriate and in line with the organisation’s brief.
But employers need to think outside the box too, and sometimes take a calculated risk in employing. For example, as FM is very much a service industry, they could ask if someone from a hospitality, retail or events background could fulfil the job?
Q: How effective have Spring’s diversity initiatives been? What’s working well?
A: Firstly, we have an inclusive and flexible work environment, which we know elevates staff retention and productivity. Equally, our clients have certainly embraced an increase in flexibility/work life balance and wellness programmes too. Both agile SMEs and larger corporates recognise this is a great offering to entice, attract and retain staff, and in turn, this has generated new professions within the industry such as Workplace/Occupancy Managers to manage agile working on a large scale.
However, we have yet to see a lot of diversity for base building FM’s since, if working for a service provider/managing agent, there is a need to be contractually at the building for certain hours. This calls for a greater understanding, training and development across the industry to help upskill and bring through future leaders.
Q: How do you attract fresh talent into the industry?
A: The FMA has also been a strong advocate in lobbying government about recognising FM as a profession, with the aim for school leavers to be educated at career fairs about the industry and employment opportunities.
We have been successfully running a trainee graduate programme to help with our vision for the future. Service providers have been excellent in engaging with indigenous workforces to train and help in developing a sustainable career, particularly in remote areas where it is hard to find work.
Q: Why is this all so important for the future of FM?
A: The voice of the facilities manager has never been so relevant! With an ageing workforce, a profession that remains a mystery for some, and great advances in technology, FM is vital. Without sound FM practices, an organisation can have huge overheads, plus operate in an unsafe environment which also impacts on productivity and wellness of staff.
The industry needs to work collectively to attract talent since FM is growing and emerging at a great pace. We must continue to commit to ongoing training and development for our industry.
Lousie Rowe will be taking part in a panel discussion on the future of FM at next week’s Total Facilities, ‘Creating a sustainable profession’ (Wed 18 April, 1pm). To you can find out more information on her session and see the full program here.
About the Author: Annie Reid
Annie Reid is a qualified journalist, professional copywriter and published author with a passion for everything bricks and mortar. For many years, she’s written thousand of stories for newspapers, magazines and clients around the world. Somewhere between the heady buzz of headlines and deadlines, she discovered a niche for creating tailor made content for the property, real estate, architecture and design industries. Annie holds a Bachelor of Arts and is currently studying a Masters in Publishing and Communications, both from the University of Melbourne.