Core Values, Communication Also Important in Advancing Women in Facility Management

By Naomi Millán, Senior Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Networking, Platform, Mentors Can Boost Women in Facility ManagementPt. 2: Sponsors, Career Strategy Can Help Women in Facility ManagementPt. 3: This PagePt. 4: Women in Facility Management: Role of Mentors, Sponsors, Gender-Based AssumptionsPt. 5: Women in Facility Management: To Grow Careers, Avoid Self-Defeating Attitudes and Take ChargePt. 6: Career Tips for Women in Facility Management: Don't Overstay; Build Credentials

As part of the broader canvas of women getting ahead in facility management, they need to follow their core values and stay authentic. For their part, executives need to clearly communicate their interest in job candidates.

As women are negotiating their way through their careers, many are wondering if they have to behave in a particular way to be successful. For women coming into the workforce in the mid-1970s, the message they received was that to be successful in the corporate environment, they had to be men in skirts and adopt gruff personas.

This was the case for Mary Gauer, group manager in the Health Sciences Center with the University of New Mexico's planning, design, and construction department. She was one of the two women founding members of IFMA. One of the smartest things she did for her career, she says, is realizing she didn't have to try to be like a man anymore. "One of the values of having women in the workforce in leadership positions is that they are not men," says Gauer. "They bring attributes to the table that allow the workplace and the work that we all do to be more holistic, I believe."

She came to this realization one day as she was reprimanding an employee, who she realized was scared of her because of how she spoke and the methods she used when she disciplined her team. It was a moment that caused her to realize she had given up her core values, and it did not reflect how she wanted to lead. "I cannot envision behaving the way I did back in the mid-'90s to how I do business today," says Gauer. "I am a very powerful woman. I do lead very distinctly. I do dominate. I take over. But I think that I've learned how to do that without making people feel afraid of me. It comes through in my authenticity and my respect for them."

The Organization's Role

The question of how to get more women into leadership positions is being considered head-on across industries. While some well-meaning efforts have not achieved their desired effect, there is still much for executives to focus on as they consider staff development in their organizations.

First off, women's groups don't really work, or at the very least they tend to be perceived as isolating to women. And hiring to meet a quota without concurrently hiring for fit also doesn't work. What does work is being aware of the differences and issues at play when women are working on developing their careers.

For example, knowing that women tend to screen themselves out of opportunities before even applying (see Part V of this article), executives interested in a particular candidate should be sure to clearly communicate their interest. While women have to learn to go for it, "the other side is, the men have to encourage their colleagues, their staff, their wives, their daughters to go for it," says Meredith Thatcher, president of Thatcher Workplace Consulting. "That push has to be there. It's not just that women have to go for it, but that men have to learn to support."

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  posted on 4/26/2015   Article Use Policy

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