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Women in FM: 5 mins with… Charlene Gachette

What is your role at Churchill and what does it involve day to day?

I am the Wellbeing, Diversity and Inclusion Manager. I’ve only been here for a month, so each day is different right now. At the moment I am planning for the future while delivering the backlog of work which was already committed. One of my key priorities is running ‘Mosaic’, Churchill’s diversity and inclusion programme. It’s great that the company has prioritised this initiative; there was so much going on, as well as a lot of ambition, and recruiting me was important to keep all the momentum going and see all the enthusiasm converted into outcomes.

How did you find your way into FM? (Tell us a bit about your background)

I ended up in FM purely by accident. I had been working for the same company for 13 years but I’d reached the point where I needed a change; I wanted a new challenge and I needed to test myself outside of my comfort zone. I began to look externally for project D&I roles where I could get stuck in. It was hard, I’d not actively looked for work on the open market in over a decade and I was beginning to think I had waited too long. I came across an interesting role one day, unlike many of the others it wasn’t prescriptive, it left room for the individual who took on the role to grow, and this is very much what I wanted. I applied and I’m here, enjoying the role and people I am working with.

What is your favourite thing about your job/the industry?

My favourite thing about my job so far is just how varied each day is; it can range from designing visuals, explaining the importance of wellbeing and D&I and how each person is critical to our vision becoming a reality, to writing blogs about my journey.

The thing I absolutely love about FM is just how diverse the workforce is. It makes my job a lot more challenging, thinking of solutions that reach our extremely varied population. At the same time, it is also much more rewarding knowing that we have managed to support all of our people no matter what part of the business they work in.

As a woman in FM, what are your biggest frustrations?

Being new to FM I cannot speak for the industry but as yet I have not found any blockers in regards gender at Churchill. I have been welcomed, respected and valued for what I bring to the business and the journey we are embarking on together. I’ve moved into a business where females are well represented at both board and management levels. There may well be pockets of gender disparity, but my experience so far has been of a business that values and respects individuals for their skills and talents.

What are your key predictions for/the biggest issues facing the FM market over the next year?

Again, hard to speak for FM but for Churchill in relation to wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, I think it will be engaging all employees from the COO to the solo cleaner on a remote site. In order for us to make the changes that count to our people, we need to be able to hear what all of our people have to say and get them to engage with the technology we use to communicate.