Why Diversity Moves FMs Towards a More Successful Team
Prizing diversity in your facilities management operation isn't just about checking boxes. It actually brings bottom-line benefits.
You value diversity. It says so right on your mission statement. You're a good leader who values individuals for who they are, and you’re open to new ideas. When you look at your facilities management team, you see a rich variety of human experience, people who don't think like you, act like you, sound like you, but who are all welcomed and engaged, with clear paths for growth and fulfilling careers. Right?
It's OK to admit that probably the answer is no. No, not quite, not yet, not enough. But you're working on it, and that's what matters most. Creating diversity in the facilities management department, and more importantly creating inclusion, is a process. It takes buy-in from every level of the organization, methodical introspection, conscious application of tools and strategies to overcome intrinsic human behavior, a lot of patience, and even more practice. It's tough work, and it is absolutely critical to the growth and future success of your facilities management organization, no matter where you are located, the industry you service, or the size of your team or budget.
You're only human
Diversity has been touted as a workplace value for decades. Valuing diversity is one of those baseline good person traits, but what that means has changed over time. "Diversity and inclusion itself is a very evolving term," says Clarence A. Carson, chief facilities officer with Chicago Public Schools (CPS). First, it meant focusing on diversifying by race, then gender was added, then sexuality, disability status, veterans status, neurodiversity, and more. But "how that applies to construction and facilities is very unfulfilled," he says. "It's very rare to have a diverse team when it comes to not just the people performing the work, but also those overseeing and leading the work." Which means it takes more than good intentions to fulfill the promise of mission statements touting diversity and inclusion.
Good intentions are not good enough because humans are clannish and tribal and we're kind of terrible about being inclusive to the "other," no matter what we tell ourselves. There are actual regions in our brains that light up on an MRI as they scan for sameness. "The reality is that our brain assesses very quickly in a room who reminds us of us," says Jaime Klein, CEO of Inspire Human Resources. It's just how we're wired. "So it's naturally the way we're going to recruit and retain and promote," in the absence of programs and other interventions to short-circuit that wiring.