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Road to Diversity and Inclusion: How Women Build a Community Within Facilities

Building a safe space within your organization where people feel represented is a way to retain new talent.

“Diversity and Inclusion” is buzz phrase that has gained attention in recent years. Panels are popping up at conferences, companies are putting together task forces and more people are starting to evaluate what it takes to become truly inclusive.

Often, people think that the main way to become inclusive is to hire a diverse staff — but the road to inclusion doesn’t stop once the hiring process ends. Companies are now being encouraged to create communities for new employees, allowing for spaces to be able to grow within the operations.

Women tend to be at the frontlines of these team building exercises, welcoming new employees with open arms. This is often driven by a natural leadership that women exuberate as they can easily connect with newcomers by giving providing support and being able to be vulnerable with them as needed.

“Leadership can be developed by anyone, but many times we limit ourselves to thinking of the ‘authoritative’ type of leadership,” says Tashena Lynette Gonzales, facilities management contract administrator, housekeeping innovation, technology subject matter expert, General Motors. “The reality is the most lasting type of leadership is influential. You truly can ‘lead from the middle.’ This type of influence is natural to many women, and they simply need to be guided into how to harness and direct it with intention.”

When it comes down to it, you need to build professional relationships between co-workers when creating these communities. This flow is what feeds and energizes all parties and allows them to continue to teach, learn and coach one another into larger roles.

“We are all incredibly capable, but depending on the road we have traveled, it can be easy to doubt ourselves, lose energy, and just want to give up,” says Diana Ortiz Burns, director of facilities, Meridian International Center. “But that’s where the power in connection and belief in others can make all the difference. So many times it just starts with someone else believing in us, when it can be difficult to see ourselves clearly and believe in abilities. Believing in someone also means advocating for them. Helping and supporting them. Matchmaking for them. Because when we believe in someone they are worth our time, and when we give the time and effort to help, they will soon start to believe in themselves, too.”

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