11 DEC 2018
Leading facilities management firms and professionals have joined forces to establish LGBTinFM – an LGBT+ support group for the sector. The group aims to make facilities management (FM) the most attractive, inclusive and supportive industry for LGBT+ professionals, and its recent launch event attracted more than 100 FM professionals.
The founder of LGBTinFM, Sharon Slinger MRICS of Constructing Rainbows, tells us about the group’s ambitions, and the biggest challenges LGBT+ professionals in FM face.
The FM workforce can be very isolated, which makes communication difficult and, therefore, getting the support to LGBT+ professionals in the FM sector can be complex. People in FM are also usually in the work environment of other organisations: for example, hospitals and corporate offices. So, not only are there concerns about being accepted in your own company, but also in the company where you are working.
I founded the collaborative LGBTinFM group when I was Carillion’s Global LGBT Network co-chair. I did some research and found the chairs of LGBT+ groups from other large FM companies – including Sodexo, Vinci and ISS – and gained support from the BSA, IWFM and Stonewall.
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Our first event, held in London last month, was a huge success with a turnout of over 100 FM professionals. Our guest speaker was Daniel Hawkins, alliance director at CBRE, who discussed his own incorrect assumptions of how he would be treated as a gay person in the workplace. We’re planning to roll out similar events across other regions, including the north of England next year.
One of our main aims is knowledge sharing best practice between companies to improve the wider industry for LGBT+ people. Not all companies are at the same stage and, as such, our network helps everyone get to a basic standard which they can build upon. We are keen to hear from smaller FM companies – as well as individuals, too – who may not have their own internal networks.
By sharing best practice, we aim to help tackle some of the barriers LGBT+ people in the FM industry face. We will also look to educate the industry leaders and workforce by sharing relevant demographic data for LGBT+ people in FM.
We are encouraging involvement in LGBTinFM from anyone in the industry who has the passion and drive to make a difference; perhaps you would like to speak at one of our events or join the steering committee. If this is you, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ultimately, it would be great to be able to have a local presence in all the UK and Ireland regions. FM is one of the largest industries, with people all over the country, so it would be fantastic to support people throughout every region.