A health facilities manager’s reputation is closely tied to how well their team performs. And the performance of their team can be enhanced when it contains a diverse group of people. Members of different races, ethnic groups, genders, sexual orientations and other groups can bring a variety of perspectives to a team that may uncover newer, better ways of doing things.

“The variety of perspectives that you can get when you have a diverse team is amazing,” says Tracy Dagnon, the American Society for Health Care Engineering’s director of marketing and communications, and staff liaison to its Diversity Task Force. “I think it’s really important for a team to have people with different viewpoints and different life experiences. That helps you make sure you’re considering things from all angles.”

Facilities management has traditionally been a male-dominated field, and the consequences of that are still felt. Danielle Gathje, CHFM, director of plant operations for M Health Fairview in Maplewood, Minn., says that even with 13 years of experience in progressively more responsible positions, she still sometimes is treated as if she does not have the same knowledge as her male peers.

“I’ve done a lot of construction management in my career, and just a couple of months ago a person tried to explain a particular process to me as if I didn’t understand it,” she says. “I was cordial about it, but the second time he did that I stopped him and explained my background, including the projects I have been involved with. 

“I never want to be disrespectful to people, so it’s a delicate balance to not quickly correct someone,” Gathje says. “But sometimes you need to show them that you know what you’re doing.”

How can a health facilities manager ensure they are creating a diverse team? 

“My advice is to make sure you’re being open-minded throughout the entire hiring process,” Dagnon says. “I think unconscious bias occurs naturally in every individual, so making sure you pause to check your biases throughout is a critical step in creating a diverse team.”