To mark International Women’s Day this week, IWFM interviewed four prominent professionals about their experiences of working in workplace and facilities management as women: Jemma Williams, Senior Director FM, JLL; Julie Kortens, Consultant, Director Group; Nikki Lathbury, Managing Director, Hexagon Group/Hexagon FM; and Simone Fenton-Jarvis, Workplace Consultancy Director, Ricoh UK.
Jemma Williams said that being a woman of colour had meant a need to work harder, regardless of gender. What’s more, “I have found that some of my male counterparts I’ve worked with have been intimated by my mindset, level of skill, the ease of building relationships with stakeholders, and teams who are on the ground, that I think outside of the box and can provide a solution quickly and execute with ease”.
For former IWFM chairman Julie Kortens, the sector’s growing focus on soft services has changed the management landscape.
“When I joined FM all those years ago, it was indeed a male-dominated industry, and the natural career path for FMs was via hard services. There weren’t many of us who had a people/soft-services background at that time, but things have changed significantly over the past 20 or so years.
“I was fortunate enough to work at Channel 4, where diversity and inclusion has and always will be a fundamental and core value, so people were appointed according to ability and I was supported at every point of my career.
For Nikki Lathbury, the answer is unequivocal – yes, women have to work harder. But they also need to plan ahead in ways men don’t need to consider.
“I have always worked in male-orientated sectors. It’s not enough that you can match them; you have to go the extra mile. It’s always in the back of bosses’ heads that ‘well, she’s at that age where she’s going to go off and have kids’. As a result, I put that off and left it to the point where I was no longer able to have kids. So don’t put it off.”
Simone Fenton-Jarvis says that “working hard is just my nature, so I’ve never consciously made that decision. But I have been conscious of the perceptions and have really pushed myself to learn technical information and get my hands dirty, which I do believe has massively benefited me. I have definitely had to fight for equal pay.”
Click here to read the IWFM’s full article, where the same four FM professionals explain why they chose workplace and facilities management as a career and whether women have a strong enough voice in the profession today.