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BIFM recognises Women in FM SIG

11 October 2008

The BIFM has granted women FM professionals a special interest group (SIG). WiFM SIG groups will be set up in all local BIFM regions .

The Women in FM Network (WiFM) which has grown and been nurtured by the BIFM’s London region won the Special Interest Group (SIG) status last month following more than two years developing interest and estimating demand for an official grouping to meet the needs of women professionals.

This is a significant milestone for the many members who have supported and played such a big part within the Group, but in particular for its champion, Linda Tilbury, who until recently headed the London Region.

Commenting on the news she said, “It' has been a long road but we made it and it's now full steam ahead for the planning of our 2009 National Programme which we will be announcing shortly.”

Whilst there are particular issues for women within the profession she has always encouraged the WiFM network to be inclusive of both men and women. The WiFM SIG will continue to be an inclusive group operating on a national basis and actively encourage the integration of its members into local regions, as well as other SIG events.

Linda Tilbury has been working hard with a small group of enthusiasts to ensure that women play a full part in the development of the FM sector. Following the example the Women in Property group which has grown in the number and influence since its inception, the WiFM SIG can look forward to representation on BIFM Members Council, and be able to influence changes and have a vote on BIFM strategy and policies together with the other SIGs.

The BIFM’s membership is currently comprised of about one fifth women. BIFM Fellow and former Vice Chair of the BIFM, Lucy Jeynes said at a Women in FM network group earlier this year, that: “Only 23 percent of women in BIFM but there are huge numbers women in the industry at all levels. Furthermore, only 2 percent of BIFM Fellows are women. It is all too blokey.”

There is vrtually no data on why women leave FM and never return, or why they often under achieve in the profession. Jeynes contends that “Women have less confidence anyway. Male dominated networks help them feel confident about their work. Whilst not everyone has this experience of having difficulty in achieving in their careers, it is a fact that every year women leave BIFM and leave the profession.”

The WiFM group has closely watched the success of the Women in Property Group. It has worked to support the RICS taskforce to raise the percentage of women chartered surveyors from 15 percent currently. It discovered that while women represented a high percentage of surveyor graduates, they left the professional to have their families and did not return. Therefore investment in their training was lost because of their childcare requirements that did not enable them to continue as professional surveyors.

The Women in Property Group recognised that women are often alone in their organisations with few like minded women for networking and socialising. It has worked to increase the visibility of women in the profession and help career development at any stage. It says that networking with other women in yours and other organisations allows you to see what is possible, and have role models.

Larch Consulting's Lucy Jeynes helped set up and manage a mentoring programme for FM professionals earlier this year which, together with the WiFM SIG provides another type of help and support that women need. This mentoring programme for BIFM members - men and women - currently support by the WIFM group is designed to encourage and assist mentoring among its members, whether those members are new to FM or well-established within the industry.

Tilbury also recognized that the number of female BIFM members does not represent the number of women in FM positions across the country, suggesting that many more could become members but, for some reason or reasons, do not.

As a BIFM SIG, WiFM will support its own membership list but it is stressed that it will be inclusive for all members ,not just women. Currently, Linda Tilbury is looking for women to form and head WiFM SIGs in all the BIFM’s regions, run events for members and to ensure that women leaders in FM represent the SIG in the BIFM structure.

The WiFM SIG’s prime aim is to promote women within the FM sector throughout the UK, to encourage them to join the industry, to develop their careers and to provide networking groups at which knowledge and ideas can be shared. Understanding why women leave FM, how they can be encouraged to return to the FM sector following career breaks, and how their jobs can be better structure to retain them while maintaining family responsibilities is a key aim.

The Group has a calendar of afternoon and evening forums, which include a mix of round table discussions, presentations and teaching tools for members. The last event in 2008 is on 25th November.


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