Inclusion in the workplace is a basic requirement for the growth, progress and success of organisations in today’s interconnected and diverse world.

IWFM is committed to placing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at the heart of our organisation, governance, membership and profession. We seek to create a community in which all people feel included, valued, supported and that they belong. Our ambition is to foster and support improved EDI practices throughout the workplace and facilities management profession and industry to achieve better outcomes for all. Morally and socially, we believe that this is the right thing to do.

We have created a Focus Group to help us shape and articulate our position and approach on EDI and in 2021 made a first Public Statement outlining our commitment to this initiative, including how we will collect, analyse and use data to help us understand and break down barriers.

In 2023, we embarked on a research journey with 11 other professional membership and regulatory bodies, representing three quarters of a million UK workers. The Young Foundation was commissioned to understand further the role of such bodies in driving EDI and where we could make the greatest impact.

We have accepted its recommendations and used it as an opportunity for IWFM to strengthen our updated Public Statement and drive EDI progress for the future. You can read more about the report, its importance for IWFM and the workplace and facilities profession here, where you will also find supporting materials and recommendations for professionals, employers and policy makers. We have also created a frequently asked questions document for any questions you may have. Additionally, we have updated our Data and research section to outline the methods we’ll be using to gather, track and analyse information related to the performance of EDI at IWFM. 


Why is this important to us?

It is important because, while the workplace and facilities sector is increasingly diverse, this is not reflected throughout. The greatest diversity is generally found in those teams delivering the services for which the profession is responsible, rather than in those running them. While we are seeing that our entry levels for the profession are increasingly diverse, we need to do more to reflect this across career pathways at all levels.

Ensuring that we are a diverse and inclusive organisation will allow us to strengthen our ability to support our members and raise their voice, both individually and collectively, on a wide variety of matters. It will also permit us in future to better respond to, and influence effectively on, key issues affecting our members’ working lives.

Diversity expands the talent pool, adds perspective and enriches thought, innovation and influence enabling us to promote better inclusion, and allowing everyone to flourish and progress. 

What is equity?

Equity extends the concept of equality to include the provision of varying levels of support based on individuals’ specific needs in order to achieve fairness of treatment and equal opportunity of access. Achieving equality requires the application of policies which ensure equity.


Equity vs equality


What is diversity?

Diversity is recognising and respecting all the visible and invisible differences between people. This could be in relation to a protected characteristic or something else such as socio-economic background, working pattern, cognitive diversity, or caring responsibilities.

It is acknowledging the benefit of having a range of perspectives in decision-making and the workforce being representative of the organisation’s customers: diverse teams, boards and workforces produce better outcomes.

What is inclusion?

Inclusion is where people’s differences are valued and respected, enabling everyone to thrive at work. Without inclusion, the benefits of diversity (such as increased creativity, innovation and problem solving) cannot be realised.

An inclusive working environment is one in which everyone feels that they belong without having to conform, that their contribution matters; and they are able to perform to their full potential, no matter their background, identity or circumstances. An inclusive workplace has fair policies and practices in place and enables a diverse range of people to work together effectively.


Strategy and activities

 Strategy and activities – an updated 2024 Public Statement

Our approach to developing and embedding EDI culture, practices and policies is based on four pillars: governance and leadership, HR and our people, our membership and the profession.

Our aims are:

  • to provide clarity about IWFM’s position as an employer and professional body and demonstrate leadership through its structures and practices
  • to be a diverse and inclusive employer that enables everyone to be their true self at work and to own and drive inclusivity, diversity and equality
  • to increase the diversity of individuals joining the Institute
  • to increase the diversity of the profession overall

Our original Public Statement has been updated in line with the recommendations of the Young Foundation Report Beyond BuzzwordsClick herek to find the updated Public Statement and accepted recommendations. A high-level action plan has been approved by the Board, to which we will be accountable for progress made.

Data and research

We need a solid evidence base to identify and understand the gaps and challenges that exist, to implement the concrete and measurable improvements needed to break down barriers to entry and progression, to report on progress made, and to make the greatest possible impact.

This will come from scientific studies, surveys and the professional expertise of key stakeholders, our members and the wider profession. In 2024, alongside 11 other regulatory and professional bodies, we published the Young Foundation report Beyond Buzzwords, about the role of professional bodies in driving forward EDI. You can read more about the report here.

The collection of personal data for the purposes of EDI monitoring, especially that of protected characteristics (these are defined under the Equality Act (2010) and include age, disability, ethnicity, gender, pay, sex and sexuality) will be key to understanding and responding to EDI issues and barriers. Collecting such data is considered standard good practice in many membership organisations. We are also collecting socio-economic data to make sure that the changes in diversity we hope to bring about create access for all, rather than, for example, access being disproportionately available to those from a privileged background.

Collecting such data will help us to:

  • identify, develop and encourage best practice in EDI
  • develop resources to support our members
  • analyse, inform and report on EDI trends within our membership and the profession
  • understand and meet the EDI needs of our members
  • inform our work and its impact, and develop our plan of action

All sensitive personal data, which will only be collected with explicit and informed consent, is kept strictly confidential, protected and handled in accordance with the UK GDPR. This information is restricted and accessible only by the necessary, authorised personnel and will not be shared in a way that allows any individual to be identified.

Please see our Privacy Policy for full details of what personal data we collect, how it is collected and stored, how it may be used - with specific practices on data, including that on protected characteristics, collected for the purposes of EDI monitoring - and how it is protected in law.


Young Foundation Report

In its search for evidence-based policy making, IWFM collaborated with 11 professional membership and regulatory bodies from a range of sectors to commission the Young Foundation for a report looking at the role and impact of professional bodies when acting to remove barriers to EDI.  

Beyond Buzzwords incorporates insights from more than 7,000 professionals across accountancy, law, insurance, human resources, public relations, management, procurement, engineering, health and safety, and facilities management. It finds nearly three-quarters of respondents had experienced barriers to career progression or some form of discrimination in their workplace. Negative experiences were more pronounced among those with multiple marginalised characteristics. 

The key findings of the research are:

  • Three in four of the total sample of professionals surveyed report experiencing barriers to progression in their career (73%) or ‘discriminatory or exclusionary’ behaviour in the workplace (72%)
  • Negative experiences are more common among those with a higher number of more ‘marginalised characteristics’ – belief in meritocracy reduces as people’s number of marginalised characteristics increases
  • The testimonies of professionals show how experiences of marginalisation are lived in variable and complex ways on an everyday basis – so there is no one size fits all solution
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion must be guiding principles for all decision making - not just for specific initiatives
  • EDI interventions must focus on changing the systems that underpin marginalisation. We all have a role to play - professional bodies, individuals, employers and policy makers

To drive change, the report proposes professional and regulatory bodies can raise the bar for accountable, ethical professions with respect to EDI. The IWFM’s updated Public Statement lists and adopts the recommendations targeted at the professional bodies and commits to implement them all. IWFM is accountable to the Board for reporting progress on the ambition outlined in its action plan, to which the EDI Focus Group provided advice, input and ambition. The plan is being incorporated into our organisational plans and we intend to provide progress updates to members at six-monthly intervals.

We have also drawn up a Frequently Asked Questions document, that answers on questions such as why we co-commissioned the research, why the FM profession should engage with the EDI agenda, how the profession performs compared to others etc.


Recommendations to individual professionals, employers and policy makers

Beyond Buzzwords stresses that EDI interventions must focus on changing the systems that underpin marginalisation. We all have a role to play - professional bodies, individuals, employers and policy makers, to that end it included recommendations for individual professionals, employers and policy makers.

Recommendations to individual professionals: 

  1. Challenge yourself to recognise how colleagues’ experiences may be different to your own and reflect on the personal biases you hold.
  2. Actively work to minimise the impact of these biases on your decision-making and relationships with colleagues.
  3. Contribute to positive change, working jointly with colleagues and making the most of learning and development opportunities.
  4. Reflect on your personal progress and admit when you still have more to learn.

Recommendations for employers

  1. Ensure EDI guiding principles are included in all aspects of decision-making. Appoint an EDI champion at executive level, and link EDI to manager and leader development, performance appraisals, promotions and bonuses.
  2. Ensure implementation of inclusive recruitment and promotion practices. This should include best practice consideration around role design and adverts, attracting diverse candidates, and salary transparency.
  3. Encourage a ‘speak up’ culture to nip poor behaviours and practices in the bud. Ensure policies and procedures can respond and react to subtle as well as overt forms of discrimination and exclusion in the workplace.
  4. Use data, such as staff surveys and exit interviews, to identify examples of discriminatory or exclusionary activities and implement lessons learned.
  5. Clearly communicate inclusive initiatives/policies and appropriately involve staff in interventions.

Recommendations for policy makers

  1. Develop systemic structures across education, welfare, health and housing provisions, which promote the fairer distribution of opportunity and support for all to enter, remain and thrive within the professions.
  2. Ensure legal frameworks regarding equal opportunities, discrimination, harassment, and the statutory commitments of employers (eg, pay gap reporting), effectively protect the rights of workers with diverse characteristics.
  3. Commit to participatory modes of policymaking that centre the lived experiences of those with marginalised characteristics in policy and service design.
  4. Commit to working with the professions to review progress and promote action on EDI, as has been done previously by the Social Mobility Commission.


EDI Focus Group

This Group was formed to help us shape and articulate our position and approach on EDI, looking at our practices, strategy and policies to ensure we enable the conversations and steps needed to improve EDI within the Institute and, through our members, the profession.  

They are helping us as critical friends to help us understand the barriers to greater EDI within the profession and explore tools to overcome them, driving initiatives and challenging our focus and priorities. Together we will continue to gather, analyse and share data to inform our actions, highlight opportunities for meaningful action, monitor progress, and celebrate achievements which exemplify ‘what good looks like’.

The Group helped us to finalise our consequent public statements, including the high-level plan approved by the Board, which seeks to translate the Beyond Buzzwords recommendations into IWFM accountable actions. They are also helping to shape our detailed action plans which form an integral part of IWFM’s overarching strategy.

Each member of the group is a workplace and facilities management professional with significant experience, insight and expertise relating to EDI policy and implementation. They are:

EDI focus group members
Find out more

Kirsty Arnold

Associate Director of Facilities Management, The Portman Estate

Kirsty has worked in the property industry for almost 20 years, 17 of which have been in facilities management, and has seen the benefit and importance of working with diverse teams. Her current role is Associate Director of Facilities Management at The Portman Estate.

Kirsty is Chair and one of the founding members of The Portman Estate’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, which started in 2019 and has already made positive changes.

She sits on the Health & Safety and Wellbeing Committee and is a trained Mental Health First Aider, both of which support her role as Chair of the D&I Working Group and the importance of equity and belonging.

Chris Barnes


With over 25 years in senior management roles within the FM sector, Chris has vast experience and knowledge working with large and small FM companies.

He has been on many D&I committees and is determined to bring neurodiversity to the forefront of the industry and every workspace it reaches.

Since Chris’s official diagnosis, he has been a champion for autism awareness in the workplace, running several campaigns across social media to help educate workplaces and support younger autistic people to get employment in FM.

Chris is an avid runner and regularly takes part in marathons and ultra-marathons. 

Matt Chapman

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SBFM

In his role, Matthew embraces a multifaceted leadership position that goes beyond traditional business responsibilities. In addition to leading the Group’s strategic initiatives, refining client propositions, and driving ambitious growth plans, Matthew stands as a beacon for equality and inclusivity within the organisation. His leadership is characterised by a relentless dedication to fostering an environment where every individual, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to thrive. In expanding the company's service offerings to meet the dynamic needs of the market, Matthew ensures that the principles of equality and inclusion are woven into the very core of SBFM's operations, nurturing a culture of fairness and respect.

Jean Hewitt

Access and Inclusion Specialist, Buro Happold

Jean is an access and inclusion specialist with 20+ years’ experience. She is a longstanding IWFM member, authoring three editions of our Access and Inclusion Good Practice Guide, and represents IWFM on the BSI’s accessible and inclusive environments committee. 

Jean’s role as inclusive design consultant with Buro Happold focuses on achieving equality and equity through appropriate design and management of the built environment to achieve an equitable experience for all building users. This includes people with health conditions or disabilities, neurocognitive differences, faith, gender or age-related requirements. She also undertakes inclusive design and management reviews and stakeholder engagement for clients. 

Jean is one of Buro Happold’s mental health first aiders and learning ambassadors. 

Andrew Hulbert

Vice Chair, Pareto Facilities Management

Andrew Hulbert is a multi-award winning entrepreneur, who founded and grew Pareto FM, one of the most successful UK Facilities Management services providers of the last decade. Andrew has a core focus on social value and sustainability which was fostered as part of his MSc at UCL in Facility and Environment Management. Alongside his professional career, Andrew is a serial social enterprise entrepreneur and has founded various schemes to support the wider community. Andrew is also the Vice Chair of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management and has volunteered for the institute for over a decade.

Raj Jones

Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Sodexo

As Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Sodexo, Raj has responsibility for the strategic direction, implementation and alignment of the UK and Ireland’s regional DE&I initiatives for its 30,000 employees as well as for its clients, customers and the communities in which it operates.

She is a skilled DE&I expert working across all areas of the DE&I agenda as a strategic partner to senior leaders to advance inclusion in the workplace and build a strong external reputation. Raj is a strong advocate for grassroots involvement and has a proven track record in delivering impactful, and sustainable, change programmes.

Colin Kimber

Associate Director, Pareto Facilities Management

Colin has worked in the FM industry for 16 years, both for large and small organisations in customer environments ranging from global corporate headquarters to the public sector, museums to tech giants.

He is currently Associate Director at Pareto FM, a business which places social value at the very forefront of what they do, with supporting inclusion in FM a key part of that strategy. 

In addition to his operational responsibilities, Colin also leads the HSEQ, L&D and D&I activities for the company, and is very proud to be part of the steering committee for LGBT+ in FM.

Emma McLaughlin-Edwards

Executive Director, ED&I – EMCOR UK

Emma's position as the first Executive Director for ED&I at EMCOR UK is pivotal in defining the organisation's commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion. Leading with authenticity and compassion, she cultivates an inclusive culture that encourages difficult conversations in safe spaces. With 20 years of experience in leading Facilities Management roles, Emma's influence extends beyond the company as she aims to shape the wider ED&I community through advocacy and leadership. Her impactful initiatives serve as a model for meaningful change, impacting both the organisation and the broader community.

Sharon Slinger

Director, Constructing Rainbows

With a background in quantity surveying, Sharon has over 20 years' experience working for main contractors in the construction and FM industries. She is the Director of Constructing Rainbows and works with built environment organisations to improve their business through implementation of D&I strategies.

Sharon’s other roles include: co-founder and director of STEER Support & Mentoring CIC, an undergraduate mentoring programme; founder of LGBT+ in FM; and member of the Yorkshire & Humber regional boards of RICS and the Construction Industry Council.

She has also featured in the OUTstanding/FT Top 50 Future Leaders list and won several awards for her work in D&I.

Regi Taylor

Senior Facilities Manager UK and Ireland, Celgene

Regi is a Facilities Director with over 17 years’ experience in the facilities and engineering industry.

She has worked across a diverse portfolio of sectors including the Royal Household, charity, education and the pharmaceutical industry; and has been a passionate supporter of inclusion and diversity throughout her career.

Regi is an advocate for the Latin American and Afro-Brazilian communities where she actively supports a number of initiatives and workshops for these communities in the UK and Europe.

She also actively supports many charities that focus on education and socio-economic inclusion, most recently working on a mission in Peru helping a local community in Cusco with the refurbishment of a school. 

Samantha West

Commercial Director, VINCI Facilities

Samantha is Business Unit Commercial Director at Vinci Facilities and has been in the construction and facilities management industries for over 30 years. Her career began with Taylor Woodrow, working mainly in the retail and defence sectors before moving into the facilities management industry.

Samantha is commercially responsible for a £140m facilities management business unit with 1,500 staff working on projects mainly in the public sector, including hospitals, schools, stadia, rail and government facilities.

Her role includes forecasting and accounting, business development, procurement and supply chain management, functional management, continuous improvement, strategy and planning. She is also active in LGBT+ networks. Oh, and one last thing - she used to be male!


Useful resources

EDI Public Statement
EDI Public Statement 2021
EDI Focus Group Terms of Reference

Young Foundation:

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