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Celebrating diversity at work

Kristy Megaw was awarded the 2018 FM Industry Award for Leadership in Diversity for her contribution to improving diversity in the facilities management industry. 

Kristy is a National Operations Manager at Cushman & Wakefield, and President of the company’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Network – a role that she performs on a voluntary basis. The purpose of this network is to make the FM industry, as well as the broader community, more inclusive of people who identify with diverse groups.

Cushman & Wakefield revamped its D&I Network last year to support better engagement across the business. After identifying which areas to focus on, the company created six subcommittees: Disability Support, Indigenous Engagement, LGBTI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex), Gender Diversity, Life & Family, and Multicultural.

Kristy describes the new network as formal but very collaborative. “We meet often and are constantly in dialogue,” she said. “The subcommittees allow staff throughout the business to take ownership, meaning the network is led by people who are exceptionally passionate about the areas they’re involved in.”

The subcommittees are instrumental in driving events, communications and representation at Cushman & Wakefield. They meet monthly and report back to Kristy who, as President, acts as intermediary between the subcommittees and Executive Committee

Allowing the issues and initiatives to be driven by staff has delivered excellent results. For companies looking to improve their D&I strategies, Kristy stresses the importance of grassroots involvement and going with the momentum of what people are feeling.

“We’ve learnt that if something is coming from the top down it’s not as effective. By engaging with teams, and letting them own the areas they’re passionate about, the D&I Network has grown and flourished. It’s engaged more people across the business.”

One example of this people-led approach is the LGBTI+ subcommittee. “This was a real grassroots movement that started as a marriage equality group around the time of Australia’s postal vote on same-sex marriage,” said Kristy. The group has been very successful in raising awareness and providing a support network for LGBTI+ people within the company.

To celebrate the Mardi Gras earlier this year, Cushman & Wakefield held an internal function at its Sydney office, which was embraced by everyone. For Harmony Day in March, the company organised a lunch where people from different countries brought traditional dishes to celebrate multiculturalism. This was a great bonding experience that allowed staff to learn about their colleagues’ backgrounds and cultures.

In 2017, Cushman & Wakefield launched its Reconciliation Action Plan as part of its commitment to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The company has pledged to provide employment and training opportunities, build community awareness, and facilitate collaboration.

As part of its Disability Support, Cushman & Wakefield partners with JobSupport – a job placement service that provides employment opportunities for individuals with an intellectual disability – and supports community initiatives such as International Day of People with Disability.

Cushman & Wakefield is also the Access & Inclusion partner for Tumbalong Lights, part of Vivid Sydney. Along with Destination NSW, the company seeks to make the festival as accessible and inclusive as possible, ensuring children with a disability and their families can participate. Cushman & Wakefield had a vision to build an inclusive playground where all kids, no matter what their level of ability, can play, participate and belong. Tumbalong Lights is a designated play experience for all children, including those with a disability, where everyone can experience the magic of Vivid Sydney.

Kristy notes that gender equality is an important issue for the FM industry. Over the past decade, FM has evolved from a technical profession, dominated by ex-tradies who operated machinery, to a people-focused profession, attracting people with skills in customer service and stakeholder management. This change – driven largely by advances in modern building systems – has resulted in more women and younger people entering facilities management.

“Gender diversity is the main driver in the changing face of FM over the last 10 years,” said Kristy. “The next steps include looking at family – FM is a 24/7 type job. How do we support people coming back after having children? Businesses need to lead by example, and ensure they provide a family-friendly workplace.”

Having recently returned from maternity leave, Kristy feels fortunate to work for a company that promotes work-life balance and supports mothers returning to work. “It’s given me a good look at how we operate,” she said. “The flexible working arrangements have made my return to work really positive.”

This story was originally published in Facility Perspectives, Vol 13 No 2.