The gender gap is a hot topic across many fields in the working world. Issues of pay equity, not to mention lack of female representation in many key industries, has urged professionals to revise strategies and company cultures to provide environments that are attractive to, and welcoming of, women.
Facility management is a field that has been growing in the public consciousness over the past few years, especially when it comes to courting more women to the profession. Here's why more women are turning toward facility management, and why companies should be encouraging this.
It's a smart financial move
Adapting your facility's strategy to be more accommodating to women isn't just a diversity effort. There's evidence to show that it can actually be beneficial to your bottom line in both the long and short terms.
For starters, it can help address a growing problem the industry is facing in a broadening skills gap. The rapid retirement of the baby boomer generation means that more facilities may be left with positions that they need filled with not enough candidates to fill them. Opening the industry up to women is a great way to significantly increase the pool of viable applicants and stave off a potential lapse in skill transference.
Many women are also coming from a different background than their male forebears. While traditionally facility managers came from a maintenance background, many of the up-and-coming female professionals have a history in commercial real estate. This equips them with a new set of skills that are becoming more important as facility management becomes ever more integrated.
FacilitiesNet drove the point home, noting that a report on the British mining industry revealed companies with women on their executive boards yielded on average earnings per share 13 times higher than their all-male counterparts.
How can companies appeal to more women?
The benefits of opening the world of facility management to more women are known and documented, but what may be less clear for administrators is how to draw these new employees into the industry in the first place. Buildings.com noted that in 2008, the International Facility Management Association reported that the industry was composed of only 24 percent women.
According to some, 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. But 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.
As the source pointed out, the administrative and real estate backgrounds from which many of these women hail can be uniquely useful to facility management. Similarly, the chief resource any facility manager depends on is problem-solving ability, which doesn't require a maintenance-specific background at all. In fact, with advances in building automation technology and reporting tools such as CMMS, the gap between the maintenance aspects of facility management and the administrative ones has been bridged.
This technological proficiency is a key part of recruiting not just women, but younger professionals from the millennial generation to the field as well. The increased prevalence of Web-based tools and mobile devices in the day-to-day operations of facility management place a premium on those who have the technical proclivity from previous work or life experience. These factors have come together in the past few years to help facility management evolve from a maintenance and repair field to one that closely impacts nearly every facet of a facility's daily operation.