Home' Facility Perspectives : Vol 11 No 1 Contents 88
FACILITY PERSPECTIVES | VOLUME 11 NUMBER 1
| DIVERSITY IN FM
What attracted you to the facilities
Like many women in the industry, I fell into
it. I started in a role where I was looking
after reception, hospitality, archiving, filing,
post and printing. They asked me to oversee
security, and then maintenance. The more I
looked into how things were being done, the
more gaps I saw. I ended up introducing an
asset management role into my team, as they
had a wonderful 400-year-old building and
absolutely no strategic or systemised plan to
maintain it. That seemed criminal to me, and
that was my introduction into asset life cycles
and capital asset planning.
What is the best thing about working
in the FM industry?
As clichéd as it sounds, for me it is the people.
I am a generalist, and know a bit about
everything (that complements my naturally
nosy nature). But I work with an amazing
group of specialists (both my staff and our
contractors). They are always generous with
their time and their knowledge, and through
the relationships we have built, I can trust
them to continually go above and beyond to
achieve the best outcome for Fed Square.
That allows me to concentrate on the strategy
for the site, and focus on empowering the
team to achieve their best.
What advice do you wish you had been
given when you first started, and what
advice would you give to other women
interested in joining the industry?
Trust your instincts, believe in yourself,
continually ask questions and ask for help.
When I first moved into the industry, I
was hesitant to show when I didn’t know
something, as I was worried people would
think I wasn’t good enough for the job or that
my contractors would try to fleece me if they
knew I wasn’t as technical as them. But what
I’ve realised as I have become older is that
often the people who sound the most confident
don’t know any more than others in the room
(and in many cases, they know less!).
Women represent only 17 per cent
of the total facilities management
workforce. Why do you think this
figure is so low?
There are many reasons, from unconscious
bias in the industry to a lack of awareness
about the opportunities that exist in FM.
One way that we can all help to address
the lack of diversity is through informal and
formal mentorships (the latter is a focus for
the FMA currently); this would help support
women to progress within the industry. We
also need to promote our current female
leaders outside the industry. That way, we
are reaching a wider audience and providing
an opportunity for women in FM to visualise
a role for themselves in the industry.
In the longer term, we need to focus on
unconscious bias within the industry. This
is an issue close to my heart, but it is also
a universal issue. Hence my involvement
in the Committee for Melbourne project,
Equal Crossings (for more about this
project, turn to page 91).
Despite low representation, the
number of women in facilities
management has been steadily
increasing over the years. What do
you believe is the reason for this?
I believe a contributing factor is the increased
focus on long-term service relationships.
Women can be better at creating
connections and gaining buy-in, encouraging
all parties to collaborate and get more out of
the contract. Previously, there was a more
transactional focus, where a contract was
followed to the letter. A situation has to be
bad for me to bring out the contract and
start enforcing it clause for clause. At that
point, it is about managing the termination
of the contract, as the relationship has been
Do you think there is currently
enough diversity in the FM industry?
With women making up just 17 per cent of
the workforce, I don’t think anyone could
say it is diverse enough. Extensive research
shows that gender diversity, as well as
respect and appreciation of all people, is
integral to creating a collaborative workplace
culture, a competitive advantage1 in a global
environment and, ultimately, sustainable
As Claire Shipman and Katty Kay outline
in their book Womenomics: Write your own
rules for success, women bring a positive
twist to the world of business.
But gender equality is just one element
of diversity – there is also ethnicity, age,
national origin, disability, sexual orientation,
education and religion. Sadly, these are
all areas that the industry needs to work
on. Thankfully, diversity and inclusion
are increasingly viewed as assets to
organisations and industries, and are
now being linked to better economic
performance2, which in today’s competitive
climate will help to make diversity more of a
Do you think you or other women
face any barriers to success within
I think the biggest barriers are in our heads.
Talking with other women in the industry
about our experiences and challenges, I’ve
noticed that an underlying theme is a
hesitation that we can do it (whatever ‘it’ is
at that point in time). Women tend to want
to be the perfect manager, the perfect
employee or the perfect wife. We generally
don’t apply for a role or promotion unless
we are really sure we can do all that it
involves, and give it all the time we think
that it deserves. These restrictions are mostly
self-imposed. I say: believe in yourself and
give it a go. Nine times out of 10, it will all
work out in wonderful ways that you could
never have planned.
Name: Sharon Pollard
Job title: General Manager Operations
Organisation: Federation Square
Key responsibilities: Strategic and
operational oversight of capital asset
planning and replacement; environmental
sustainability; security and emergency
management; OH&S; accessibility;
planned and reactive maintenance;
tenancy management; cleaning and waste
DIVERSITY IN FM PROFILE
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