How to Improve Diversity in Facility Management
Columnist Darrell X. Rounds lays out a game plan managers can use to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in their departments.
As if one of the greatest pandemics in history isn’t enough. Facility managers trying to meeting the challenge of guiding institutional and commercial facilities through the expanding impact of COVID-19 also are contending with another challenge – a rising tide of civil unrest highlighted by discrimination and racism.
In fact, both events have caused us to realize that the systems that we have in place call for more flexibility and resiliency.
COVID-19 has caused the facilities management profession to re-evaluate the way managers design, operate and maintain the spaces in which we live, work, and play. At the same time, a series of deaths of Black citizens at the hands of police – among them, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, Ahmaud Arbery being shot to death while jogging through a neighborhood, and Breonna Taylor being wrongfully shot to death by the Louisville Police Department – have turned a spotlight on the centuries-old problems of discrimination and racism within society and its institutions.
They also have illuminated the existence of discrimination and racism within our society. Discrimination and racism and the structures that have supported them have prevented Blacks and other underrepresented ethnic groups from thriving in society relative to their White counterparts. This phenomenon continues to manifest itself in various arenas, including access to education, housing, healthcare, gainful employment, and the ability to gain access to financial instruments.
In light of these events and the ongoing problems they are targeting, managers struggling to address pandemic-related challenges need to demonstrate to their departments and their organizations the willingness to implement tangible strategies and tactics that foster diversity, equity and inclusion within facilities management.
The case for diversity
Why should managers make the case for diversity, equity and inclusion in the first place? There are a host of reasons these goals are essential for companies trying to maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Workplace diversity reduces employee turnover and insures a variety of different perspectives, and it leads to increased creativity, greater innovation, faster problem solving, higher-quality decision making, greater profits, higher employee engagement, enhanced company reputation and brand recognition, and better hiring results, writes Anja Zojceska, a recruitment marketing specialist and head of marketing at a recruitment software company in her article, “Top 10 Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace.”
What profession wouldn’t want more creativity or more innovation? What company wouldn’t want greater profits and a better reputation? What manager wouldn’t want higher employee engagement and lower employee turnover.
These are all tangible benefits that would positively impact the facility management profession, and this is important because demographic data suggest the profession has much room for improvement regarding diversity.
About 105,000 workers used the title facility manager in their job descriptions, according to 2018 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The subset of data relative to this population suggests the need for managers to be aggressive regarding increasing diversity.
Of the 105,000 facility managers in 2018, 79 percent were male and 21 percent were female. With regard to race or ethnicity, 75.7 percent were White (Non-Hispanic). The second most common race or ethnicity in the occupation is Black (Non-Hispanic) at 8.4 percent.
In short, the numbers even suggest that facility management is a White, male-dominated profession.
Now let’s examine equity in light of the wage gap. Consider the wage gap that exists between men and women and, more specifically, between White and Black workers. The average wage gap between Black male workers and White male workers was 31 percent as of 2015, according to the Economic Policy Institute. This means that for every dollar that a White male worker makes, a Black male worker makes $0.69. After controlling for racial differences in education, potential experience, region of residence and metro status, this gap between White male workers and Black male workers improves to 22 percent.
Regarding Black females and White females, the disparity isn’t as great. The average wage gap between Black female workers and White female workers is 19 percent, meaning that for every dollar that a White female worker makes, a Black female worker makes $0.81. After controlling for racial differences in education, potential experience, region of residence and metro status, this gap between White female workers and Black female workers improves to 11.7 percent.
The Economic Policy Institute reports that as of 2016, the gender pay gap is 79.6 percent. This means a woman makes approximately $0.80 for every dollar a man makes. Taking this into consideration along with race, we can conclude that a great inequity exists in the way organizations treat the compensation of diverse employees.
At this point, managers must take a look in the mirror and ask, “Is my organization reflective of this data?” If the answer to this question is yes, the follow-up question is, “Why?” Does the organization have systems in place that thwart diversity, equity and inclusion? Do behaviors or cultural norms exist that disengage or even diverse employees? Do I value diversity, equity or inclusion myself?
With respect to the facility management, what are managers doing to safeguard the organization against this type of inequity? Furthermore, what are managers doing to ensure that compensation is handled fairly and that the organization ensures that all employees – regardless of race, gender, creed, sexual orientation or any other protected category of diversity – receive equal access to opportunities?