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julie kortens
Julie Kortens

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4 March 2019 Julie Kortens

Social mobility makes the facilities management profession special, says Julie Kortens.

Social mobility is something that sets our industry apart and makes it special. There’s a place for everyone, regardless of their background or level of education.

Our front-of-house and security teams and our cleaners are the public face of our organisations, providing opportunities for, and interaction with, local people. 

Some of the most successful projects our FM teams have been involved with have included apprenticeship programmes and local recruitment drives. 

As the public face of our organisations, workplace and facilities management are in great positions to forge a link with our communities by hiring local people. 

But in recent years, pressure has come from government, our boards and the media to do more, or at least to measure and report on what we have done.

Once we’ve decided that we want to add value, we need to look at everything we do and ask how it benefits the local area and people and how sustainable those benefits are.

Being socially responsible means looking at our plans and actions and asking whose lives are going to change as a result of what we do. How are we going to measure the impact and how long are we going to measure for? 

Do we need to consult people living nearby before we act? How are we going to deal with unintended consequences? There are other questions too – most significantly, how do benefits compare with the costs?

This is especially true for companies who engage with those who, for one reason or another, might be struggling to find a career. A great example is the Abilities in Facilities initiative, a partnership between Sewell FM and Mencap, which won our 2018 Impact on Society award. Abilities in Facilities looks to help people with autism to find jobs in our industry and there is no doubt that giving people a chance really does add value.

Julie Kortens is managing director of Konnected People and former chair of IWFM