Where are the women in facility management? How can the quota of women in the industry be increased?

Women in Facility Management - Webinar by Wowflow Facility Management Software

We got to the bottom of these questions together with four women from the management level.

The idea for our online panel discussion on the topic of “Women in Facility Management” came about through a discussion between our CEO Drazen Ivanis and our colleague Tanja Schwärzler from Marketing. Content of the conversation: Do we have to gender in our texts or not? Yes we have to. Especially when we want to get women excited about our company in the FM service sector. In order to find out what the quota of women is like in the rest of the industry and how a woman can get into a management position, we invited female executives to an interview – and got some interesting insights.

How does a woman get into a facility management management position?

That was the first question we asked the four ladies. The answers across the board: I slipped in there. From a wide variety of areas such as the laboratory, a career as a aspiring lawyer, but also classically from the real estate industry. Meanwhile, Katrin Schwarz works as a Senior Maintenance Manager at OBI, Miriam Terner is Head of Legal, Fleet and Facility Management at RegionalMedien Austria AG, Evelyn Groß is Head of Facility Management at QPS Austria GmbH and Anette Weller works as Member of the Board of Management of Gegenbauer Holding.

Ms. Groß and Ms. Schwarz admit that as a woman you always have to assert yourself in the industry – especially when dealing with various service providers. Evelyn Groß has therefore already created a kind of statement catalog for a wide variety of situations in everyday work. As a conversation partner, she sometimes misses being taken fully from the first second – as is the case with most of the men working in FM. Ms. Weller and Ms. Terner are also not entirely unfamiliar with this problem: it can happen that you are not even addressed as a woman. That you first have to make yourself heard. A few clear words usually help.

„These are old patterns and sometimes it takes a while to get rid of them.“

Anette Weller
Board Member at Gegenbauer Holding

According to Ms. Weller, however, a lot has happened in the last five to six years with regard to equal rights for women. The Gegenbauer board now consists of three men AND three women.

Correctly communicating the FM job description

On one point, however, the ladies also agree: The job description of facility management must be communicated differently. When Ms. Schwarz says, for example, that she works in the FM, the first assumption often comes: “Aha, in the cleaning sector.” No, not in cleaning. Facility management is an extremely extensive field of activity. For this, however, the appropriate awareness must first be created. In addition, the industry is not only interesting for men, it also offers just as many exciting aspects for young women.

„Most of them just don’t know what facility management is in itself. Clarification must be pursued.“

Katrin Schwarz
Senior Maintenance Manager at OBI

Soft skills in particular are often a great strength of women, which can also be used in facility management and make women stand out from men in a certain way. From the experience of Ms. Groß it can be said that problems are often solved quickly, efficiently but also empathically by a female manager. Whereas your male counterpart has to be made aware of the problem at hand over and over again. These services can be pointed out precisely because of the advancing digitization. As facility management software, we are of course happy to support this.

„The working atmosphere in facility management can benefit extremely from women because we are often empathetic and have good communication skills.“

Evelyn Gross
Head of Facility Management at QPS Austria GmbH

How can we better address women with job descriptions?

A first step is to specifically address women in job advertisements. Unfortunately, it happens again and again that the headline is: m / f / d – but then by no means will the interested women be discussed again.

As a second point, Ms. Weller mentions the topic “Women have to feel comfortable in the company” . This has to be carried out very consistently from the top management level. For example, if there is only one men’s locker room and the women have to change clothes behind a curtain, then something has gone wrong. It is also important to create a safe atmosphere. Should there be unpleasant situations for an employee, then she must be able and allowed to express herself and – very importantly – she must be taken seriously.

The ladies agreed on the last point as well: women in the industry must be made visible.

„A key to success: Make the faces behind the facility management visible.“

Miriam Terner
Head of Legal, Fleet and Facility Management at Regional Medien Austria

Women often tend to be more reserved and less self-confident than their male counterparts. As a manager, you have to respond to this, encourage the person concerned accordingly and make it visible to other colleagues.

The conclusion of the one-hour conversation

The ladies agree that a lot of potential was uncovered during the discussion. On the one hand to make the industry more visible for women, but on the other hand also to highlight women in facility management. It is always a bit easier to implement such a project together. A first idea that came up: an image video for social media. Of course, we as Wowflow GmbH also want to participate in such initiatives of our speakers in the future!

We would like to thank Miriam Terner, Anette Weller, Katrin Schwarz and Evelyn Groß for the exciting discussion and the interesting findings!

You are welcome to watch the recording of the panel discussion (in German) here:

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