FM Perspectives

A Call to Action: Empowering Women in Facilities Management

Editor’s note: This FM Perspectives op-ed was written in honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8).

Facilities management is a dynamic field crucial to the smooth operation of businesses and institutions worldwide. Yet, despite its significance, the industry remains male-dominated. A recent study found that men outnumber women nine to one in facilities management leadership roles. At the same time, that is changing; like other industries, facilities management faces a shortage of workforce talent, and women are increasingly filling those roles as companies recognize the value of more diverse teams.

It is time for more companies to recognize and to harness the invaluable contributions of women in facilities management and take steps to ensure their full participation and advancement within the field.

The Role of Women in FM

Women have long played pivotal roles in facilities management, often behind the scenes, ensuring facilities operate efficiently and effectively. Historically, these roles were highly administrative. Over time, we have witnessed the evolution of these roles from space planning and design to managing maintenance schedules and overseeing workplace safety protocols. Women bring diverse perspectives and skills that are indispensable to the success of any facility.

Challenges Faced by Women in the Industry

Despite their contributions, women in facilities management encounter numerous obstacles, including gender bias, unequal opportunities for advancement, and lack of representation in leadership positions. These challenges not only hinder individual career growth, but also limit the industry’s ability to innovate and adapt to changing needs.

As more women in the industry obtain facilities management certifications and licenses, this bias will diminish as the industry recognizes the knowledge base and leadership skills held by this growing demographic.

The Case for Gender Diversity

Research consistently demonstrates that gender-diverse teams outperform their homogeneous counterparts. By fostering an inclusive environment that embraces the talents and perspectives of women, facilities management business lines can drive innovation, enhance decision-making, and achieve better outcomes for their clients and stakeholders.

One opportunity that companies could seize is recognizing how in tune women are to the workplace environment. Studies show that there is a notable difference between genders when it comes to environmental sensitivities.

Women report having more environmental sensitivities than men, working remotely at a slightly higher rate. They also report being more hyposensitive to visual stimulation than they are to auditory stimulation and desire more visual stimulation than men do. These unique variations may be the key to how facilities management groups can evolve, taking the workplace to the next level of innovation and change.

Call to Action

It is time for the facilities management industry to prioritize gender diversity and take proactive steps to recruit, retain, and support women in the field. This includes implementing policies and practices that promote equal opportunity, providing mentorship and professional development opportunities as well as actively challenging stereotypes and biases.

There are great resources within the industry for companies to lean on for direction and guidance. Professional development and advocacy groups like Women in Facility Management (WIFM) are a wonderful place to start. Networking and education events can bring women facilities managers together to expand their knowledge base, learn best practices, share project successes, and grow their professional network.


As we navigate an increasingly complex and interconnected world, the contributions of women in facilities management have never been more critical. By embracing diversity and inclusion, we can unlock the full potential of our industry, get in gear with other thriving industries, and drive innovation as we create a more equitable and prosperous future for all.

An award-winning facilities management professional with 26 years of experience helping global companies effectively manage, design, and develop workspaces, La Shawn Harrison thrives in diversity and works to introduce emerging professionals to the various aspects of the industry. Currently, Harrison serves on the board of directors of Women in Facility Management (WIFM), an organization dedicated to industry diversity and professional advancement.

ALSO READ: Women in FM: IFMA Reveals Global Stats, Highlights ‘Opportunities to Thrive’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *