LGBT+ in FM is making sure the topic of diversity is more than 'fuzzy, positive' talk of inclusivity.
03 June 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Diversity is a topic that can become a stomping ground for 'fuzzy, positive' talk of inclusivity.
In reality, groups whose requirements have not traditionally been considered in mainstream society have often been made to suffer in silence because of a lack of adequate platforms to highlight their talents and the lack of a support network.
Workplace and facilities management is no different. But solid initiatives do exist that have made and are making a difference in FM.
One of those is the LGBT+ in FM group. Some members of this group are due to march in July's Pride parade in London. LGBT+ in FM's steering committee members are made up of employees from Sodexo, Vinci, ISS, and Pareto FM.
It is an FM industry-wide network, much like a special interest group, open to all LGBT+ FM employees and their allies, irrespective of specific company.
It is designed to capitalise on work already being done by some and "provide support to those that do not yet have an infrastructure, either due to size or maturity - where LGBT+ Diversity is concerned".
The overall goal is to make the FM industry as supportive and attractive an industry as possible for LGBT+ people.
Colin Kimber, associate director at Pareto, has been a part of the group for 18 months - and says that it has definitely helped him raise his visibility. "The group has helped me become more visible and is helping the whole community to be bolder. I spent years hiding myself but now have newfound confidence. I can now be a role model for others."
Kimber had come to Pareto from an FM engineering company where he said he had "dampened myself down" and he had experienced "indirect prejudice".
However, joining Pareto and the LGBT+ FM group has been like "coming out of the chrysalis"; the more he has been able to show who he is, the more he has been "totally embraced".
Pareto's managing director Andrew Hulbert is a big believer in creating an inclusive culture. He told Facilitate that "we should never forget that workplace and facilities management is a people business; it's not about buildings. Therefore we need to build our company cultures around the ability for our people to deliver their best. The most effective way to ensure this is to create a totally inclusive, diverse and supportive environment so people can be themselves at work. We need to build a culture whereby people are celebrated for their ability to deliver and not defined by societal labels."
One of Pareto's key clients, Twitter, hosted the most recent LGBT+ in FM networking event and got its own LGBT+ group leader to speak - one of the ways the group has been able to extend its reach through its networks.
Hulbert added: "We had representation from three other clients there too. "
There is, says Hulbert, "a real collaborative and progressive approach being formed" which shows that the LGBT+ in FM group "is important to all organisations and transcends boundaries of client / contractor and large / smaller organisations".
It is is not about "the right thing to do" but "about recognising that we need to do more as organisations to create an inclusive culture".