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Facilities Management

Inspiring women to develop careers in STEM

What do you see when you imagine an engineer fixing an air-conditioning unit? What about when you think of someone organizing a company’s IT infrastructure or managing a complex facilities management contract?

If you picture a man in that role, the sad truth is that you’re probably in the majority. But why? This is exactly the kind of unconscious bias we want to undo at Sodexo, not just because we’re committed to driving gender diversity, but because there is a solid business case to do so!

In FY20, 40% of our global revenues in the Onsite Services part of our business came from FM services; up from 33% in the previous year. The integrated FM market is expected to grow 15% by 2025. When we look at the resilience of our business during the Covid-19 pandemic – and the business of our competitors – we see that where we provide integrated FM services we are less impacted. In short, FM represents an increasing proportion of our business; it represents a huge opportunity for growth; and it has proved to be extremely resilient and even raised its profile during times of crisis.

Facilities management, along with IT, digital and data, have been highlighted as pivotal levers for our ongoing growth and success at Sodexo, which means we are focused on attracting, developing and retaining the best talent in these disciplines to give us the competitive edge.

The good news is that talent pool is wide; the bad news is that women are significantly under-represented in these industries. Our research clearly highlights that gender balanced teams perform better, therefore we want to attract and develop more women into those roles – particularly at management level – to ensure we have the best performing team possible. 

There is currently a lack of skilled facilities professionals in the workforce, according to the International Facility Management Association. The average age of an FM professional is 49, which means in five to 15 years from now, 50% of the existing FM workforce will retire. With the lack of enough skilled facilities managers, Sodexo, like many employers, are finding it a challenge to fill this gap.

Catalyst – the global non-profit organization focused on accelerating and advancing women into leadership – says that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations are expected to experience rapid growth in the coming decade. In fact, technology and engineering are among the top sought-after skills in the US. However, a gender gap persists in STEM roles, which begins in education and is fuelled by gender stereotypes.

So, what are we doing at Sodexo to redress the balance? Recognizing that the gender gap begins in education, we support Inspiring Girls, an organization dedicated to raising the aspiration of young girls around the world, by connecting them with female role models. We also partner with industry bodies, which are leading the charge in driving gender diversity in facilities management, as well as clients who are thought leaders in this space. We have dedicated networks operating across our business focused on driving the gender balance agenda, specifically in STEM roles. And, where possible, we adapt the language of job advertisements to ensure they are gender-neutral and appeal to a broader talent pool.

Ultimately, we want to inspire women to consider FM, IT, digital and data as exciting options when looking to develop their career. These disciplines can offer a wealth of opportunities for women and, given the expected growth rate expected over the coming years, a career in STEM for anyone right now is an attractive option.

At Sodexo, we want to shine a light on women in these roles; not only to celebrate their achievements and tenacity in breaking the mould, but to also inspire other women to pursue a career in FM, IT, digital and data. The future’s bright; the future’s STEM.

Check out our role models in FM, IT, digital and data 



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March 08, 2021

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