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Diversity and Inclusion in Property and Facilities Management

‘It will take 170 years for men and women to have parity in the workplace’ was the startling statement put to those attending Investigo’s Women in Property event last week. Speaking on gender inequality, Dan Robertson, previously of the ENEI, asked us to consider why is it taking so long for equality to be reached? Are we willing to wait?

Providing the results based on evidence on numerous studies, Dan presented a view of the modern workplace landscape. He illustrated how both our conscious and unconscious bias has allowed us to arrive at a place where women account for half of the workforce yet, still remain significantly under-represented.

In a world where 50% of C-Suite Executives polled believed all things being equal (qualification, experience, ability to do the job), that a man would perform better at board level than a woman and, where ‘assertiveness’ in a male executive is frequently considered as ‘bossy’ in a woman, it is clear that our unconscious bias is still an issue to be addressed.

The above experience is something our first speaker, Pinar Cetinkaya, could relate to. Pinar is a Senior FM Manager for CBRE, heading up teams in Istanbul, Athens and Tel Aviv. As one of only two female graduates in mechanical engineering she was used to hearing her choices were not considered as those “for girls”. Not one to be dissuaded by popular opinion she successfully forged a career in a series of male dominated workplaces. Testament to her tenacity and ability, Pinar pushed through gender related obstacles that ranged from being the only woman in an entire workforce (they didn’t even have a female toilet) to dealing with reluctance to outright refusal to carry out her requests from some of the male members of her team. Faced with these real discriminations she was frequently infuriated, constantly considering what she could do differently and asking herself why she was putting herself though this. Her advice to those encountering the same challenges – ‘keep at it’.

This sentiment was echoed by Dan Robertson. He explained that if we don’t want our great granddaughters working with the same gender inequality, we need to address it consistently and at every level. ’Call it out’ suggested Dan, if you suspect decisions are being taken, even unconsciously or benevolently, with gender as a consideration - ’call it out’. Whilst there is certainly a bigger picture to be considered, the government could go further to create complete equality when it comes to maternity and paternity pay for example, bringing in allies across gender and age groups to call out gender inequality.

Investigo would like to thank our speakers, Pinar Cetinkaya and Dan Robertson, our hosts Sally Clift HR Business Partner at CBRE and Norma Bresciani Managing Director at Servest and Bank of America Merrill Lynch for the use of their fantastic venue.

We are delighted to announce that the event raised over £400 for BAML’s chosen charity Magic Breakfast, making sure no children go to school too hungry to learn.