It's a fact - more men than women occupy facilities management positions. As women attempt to climb the corporate ladder, they seem to vanish. While the stats vary somewhat from one country to the next, this pattern is extremely consistent nonetheless.
At entry-level positions, over half of the employees in organizations are women. With each successively higher level in an organization, the number of women gradually shrinks. At the CEO level, there are only 3% to 4% who are women across the globe.
Why is that? What is it about this management position - or any other position of power in the workplace - that has men dominating it? What can be done to counter this trend?
Factors Contributing to a Lack of Representation of Women in FM Positions
Lack of flexibility in the workplace
A lack of flexibility in the workplace often leads to women leaving the workforce because of unyielding expectations that don't accommodate care-giving responsibilities. This especially impacts management fields where there are already fewer women than men.
Employers shouldn't think of workplace flexibility as a perk; rather, it should be a must. A cultural change needs to be instilled into FM companies. With plenty of evidence proving the capability and progress of women in facilities management positions, it's important for companies to look at what is needed to support women with their progression in the FM field.
Tying into little workplace flexibility are the heavy workloads that often burden female FMs, which in turn invades time needed to tend to domestic responsibilities.
Shortage of mentors for women in the FM field
It's harder for women to find female mentors in FM occupations, which can further hinder the entrance and ultimate success in this field. Without a more experienced employee who can guide and educate women about the ins and outs of the job, it can make it intimidating and extremely difficult to break the glass ceiling. This is true for any type of career, but is especially important and helpful for women in facilities management, since they are typically less likely than men to promote themselves.
Lack of acceptance from supervisors and peers
While views on gender equality have improved over the decades, there are pockets of "boys club" mentality among many in the facilities management profession, especially among the older, more experienced demographic. Considering the fact that there are still more men than women in this field, it can be difficult to be accepted as part of the group. Fortunately, more and more younger people are entering this field, pushing the older generation out as they continue to retire. With young blood typically comes a fresher view on gender equality.
How Women Can Break Into - and Be Successful in - the Facilities Management Industry
Explode the myths
Among the most important and effective actions to take to be successful as a female facilities manager is to explode the myths that have discouraged women from reaching for the top. The idea that women are not suitable for management positions has worked to keep them from progressing in the workplace. It's important to constantly challenge these stereotypes, and recognize how they are keeping women "in their place."
Find support groups
It can be helpful to find a mentoring program that supports women in FM positions. If you can't find one, you may even consider putting one together yourself that's focused specifically on developing strategies to help women break through this industry. More women need to support each other on the way up the corporate ladder.
Push for gender balance in the workplace
The more women in facilities management, the better the chance of increasing the number of women in these management positions. And the more women in leadership positions, the better conditions for all women in the workforce. Raising the issue of gender balance can place more attention on the under-representation of women in facilities management in business.
Learn how to cope with gender differences
Educate yourself on gender differences in communication between men and women. Don't be afraid to offer an opinion before being asked. Learn how to handle guilt in a male-dominated workplace, as well as how to say "no" to irrational demands.
Work for a female-friendly company
Do some research on companies that embrace female employees in senior positions. These companies understand the profit potential of putting talented and competent female employees in FM positions. They take efforts to recruit women, and move them into leadership positions when ready. Jut as important, companies such as these recognize the importance of flexibility in the workplace, as well as consistent mentoring programs that offer women support. Work life balance is a parental issue, which can only be conquered together.
Make use of facilities management software
For the women who are already in FM positions, staying in the job and being successful can be done with the use of facilities management software to keep the workplace as streamlined, efficient and productive as possible. With the increased demands of FMs in the workplace, using an innovative tool such as iOffice's FM software can not only make this job easier, but it can also cut the time necessary to carry out all aspects of the job at hand.
While much progress has been made in the realm of gender representation in the workplace, more work is still to be done. With the under-representation of women in FM positions, clearly more needs to be done to encourage women to break into this industry. For women who are already in this position, becoming successful and making the job more manageable can be done with the implementation of facilities management software such as that developed by iOffice.