It’s International Women’s Day (IWD)! For Andron, not only does this provide us with an opportunity to celebrate our remarkable female colleagues, but it’s also a reminder to take inventory of where we are as a business concerning gender equity and ensure that our culture continues to reflect our ideals and broader strategy of being a champion for equal opportunity.
We are proud of our journey thus far; however, much work remains, particularly within the facilities management (FM) industry. Although our industry has significantly improved over recent years, it still has a predominantly male-oriented representation within senior roles. For this to change, we as an industry must continue challenging gender bias as it occurs consciously or unconsciously and help forge a gender-equal world.
In alignment with this year’s theme, #EmbraceEquity, we spoke to two of Andron’s female leaders, Bernadette Fahy and Grecia Arancivia, hoping to confront the stigma head-on and to encourage more women towards a career in Facilities Management.
Q: Firstly, why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
“It’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day to recognise the achievements of women and the contributions they have and continue to make in the workplace. It is also important to continue highlighting gender inequality so that it is not overlooked or forgotten,” said Bernadette.
Grecia added that celebrating international women’s day “encourages women to have a voice” and that IWD is a great opportunity to “inspire women to work together, celebrate our achievements and show how far we’ve come.”
Q: This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity. What are the main challenges women face in the FM industry, and how can we encourage more women to pursue a career in FM?
“Women can often be overlooked in FM due to the perception that women are considered less mentally and physically strong than men. FM is not only about building maintenance which is typically considered a ‘man’s job’. It requires multi-tasking, people management, problem-solving and innovation. By ensuring that women fully understand the different roles of FM, we can encourage more women into a career in FM.
“Attending schools and colleges to promote facilities management can also show young women that they can have a successful career in FM, which they previously may never have even considered,” added Bernadette.
Grecia suggested that mentoring can be used as a tool “to help encourage young women to begin their career in FM. Mentoring could help anyone interested understand what path and steps to follow to pursue a career in FM.”
Q: Finally, what advice would you give young women thinking about a career in FM?
As for advice on kickstarting a career in FM, Grecia suggests “always taking on new challenges even if you at not sure you are completely ready and look out for growth opportunities when they present themselves.”
Bernadette added, “it’s important to be open-minded and see that FM is a diverse and varied industry which offers a wide range of opportunities.”
What is Andron doing to #EmbraceEquity?
Andron is committed to creating an inclusive workplace where people’s differences are valued, and everyone can bring their whole selves to work. Our diversity of thought, perspective, and people strengthens us.
Andron provides all its managers with unconscious bias training to equip them with tools to ensure no employee or applicant receives unfair treatment based on age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic background, religion and belief. The interactive training consists of workshops, challenges and debates led by experienced facilitators. It empowers employees to challenge workplace bias and step in when they see hurtful or undermining behaviour. Doing so ensures a supportive and inclusive working environment for all.
Here at Andron, we also want to ensure women going through crucial life stages, such as starting a family or menopause, are fully supported throughout to ensure they remain in the workplace and achieve their full potential. Our industry-leading training and policies are central to this commitment, which form part of our comprehensive strategy to improve gender equality.
Recently, Andron introduced a new menopause policy and launched menopause awareness training for all management staff. The overall purpose is to create an open and honest workplace where managers and employees can discuss any issues associated with menopause and to ensure the necessary support is known and offered to employees. We believe that by raising awareness about menopause symptoms and having the proper support in place, we can make it easier for our employees to open up and discuss how menopause is affecting their health and their work.
Employees also have the option to request flexible working within their roles from day one of employment. This flexibility allows for a change in personal circumstances, such as becoming a parent and returning to work from maternity leave to ensure Andron can support throughout.
Furthermore, Andron’s school and college programme, launched last year, was designed to give back to the community by providing young people with skills and awareness to serve them as they transition into employment. Through this initiative, we aim to inspire young women towards a career in Facilities Management.
As a company with a diverse workforce of individuals from 65 different countries, we will continue to advocate for systemic change and #EmbraceEquity across the board, ensuring that women now and for generations feel valued and equal.