International Women’s Day: recognising achievement, strategising for progress


  • EDI

08 March 2024

Women's Day


Linda Hausmanis

While celebrating women on International Women’s Day, let’s remember that despite making up over half of the UK population and making an immense contribution, gender discrimination, unequal pay and lack of opportunities for career advancement remain significant challenges.

Results from our most recent Impact and Experience survey found that only 26% of IWFM members were women. With the sector facing a huge skills crisis it is vital to continue improving the numbers of women in workplace and facilities management, especially in leadership positions.

In 2021 we committed to improving equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) across IWFM, the membership and the profession. With our excellent EDI Focus Group, we have identified several areas which require further attention from us this year, including encouraging more women into the profession and increasing overall diversity across the piece.

To better enable women to progress in their careers, it is crucial to build an organisational and sectoral culture that values diversity and inclusion, which can be achieved through education around unconscious biases and promoting a culture of equality and respect for all professionals.

Additionally, organisations must focus on creating equal opportunities for both men and women. For instance, organisations can provide equal training and development opportunities for all employees, ensuring that everyone has the same chance to develop their knowledge and skills, and move ahead.

Furthermore, mentoring and networking programmes can help women develop in the workplace, which entails connecting with senior female leaders, learning from their experiences and building a strong network. With guidance and support, mentors can help female professionals navigate the opportunities and challenges in the workplace.

Working with the Young Foundation and eleven other professional bodies has helped us to better understand where we can make a difference and have greater impact on EDI. The research (published yesterday) notes the fundamental importance of EDI in every aspect; actions, not words are important if we want people to remain in the profession and progress their careers. As a professional body, we have a key role to play in driving systemic change, by setting the standard for what good looks like for professionals.

We must address the challenges and work towards building a more inclusive and representative culture. It’s about creating awareness and promoting gender equality among all employees, to educate and engage everyone in conversations about gender equality and to encourage them to take positive steps. For their part, organisations should embed gender equality as a crucial element of EDI, ensuring that it is a strategic priority and influencing all other actions.

Soon, we will outline our programme of activity to further drive greater inclusion across our leadership, membership and the wider WFM profession and sector. Look out for it on our website.

In sum, while we can reflect on the progress made in gender equality and celebrate women’s achievements, we must all think about what more needs to be done for the foreseeable future.