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18 January 2019
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FM - pushing for parity

8 March 2016 | Martin Read

In January, as part of our standard ‘new year’ assessment of what we produce, we at FM World began the process of analysing the balance of men and women featured in all aspects of our published work.

We decided to completely review and examine the editorial opportunities for gender parity in FM World. We were able to break down our measurement into six categories, ranging from authorship and quoted opinion through to the choices we make in supporting photography and who appears in the advertising we carry. In each of these categories we’ve decided to monitor the numbers on a quarterly basis, taking the time to stand back and assess how we’re doing. If there were opportunities to ensure gender equality that we either missed or simply didn’t take up, we’ll look to learn from it. Our intention with this piece of administration work is to insure against any unconscious gender bias on our part.

Now, how much of a problem is this? Firstly, the balance of men to women represented in FM World closely matches, and in some cases exceeds, the balance of men and women making up the current BIFM membership. Secondly, while there is an underlying need to be careful about this balance, it’s rarely raised as an issue.

Also, this perception is simply not isolated to FM. Many other professions, and the professional bodies that represent them, are also grappling with the problem of gender balance - just as they’re dealing with the need to appeal to young people.

But among all the other objectives of an institute title, reflecting a desired membership profile - and acting as a shop window to those considering the profession - is an important aim. Thus, there is a greater role for the BIFM’s magazine to play in how we present the sector.

There are times when something as small as a poor choice of supporting photography can lead inadvertently to the reinforcement of a lazy stereotype. And there is also sometimes a need, as was once suggested to us, “to project equality and diversity in order to achieve it in the workplace”.

I should say at this point that in none of the other sectors within which I have worked has there been anything like the number of female role models that FM has. Facilities management positively fizzes and crackles with examples of brightly shining women at all ends of the FM spectrum, each making their mark.

Will you notice any change? Possibly, but it won’t be “in your face”. The topicality, quality and interest value of the content will always trump the person doing the talking. Only in those areas in which we can ensure parity will we overtly do so – you can expect our regular ‘Behind The Job’ interviews to be more fairly balanced from hereon. And also, here’s a call for any woman working in FM who’d be interested in putting a diary column together. It’s only a commitment to produce a column six times a year, and other FMs will be keen to read about how you go about your work. Could this be you? Get in touch!

Martin Read is managing editor of FM World