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SDG, NGO, DEI, GWI: The ABCs of Sustainable Development 

Episode Summary

IFMA is teaming up with the IFMA Foundation for a new series titled, "Rework: The Sustainable Development Chronicles". In today's episode, discover how the IFMA Foundation and the field of Facility Management is supporting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, through the Global Workforce Initiative (GWI).

Episode Notes

IFMA is teaming up with the IFMA Foundation for a new series titled, "Rework: The Sustainable Development Chronicles". In today's episode, discover how the IFMA Foundation and the field of Facility Management is supporting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, through the Global Workforce Initiative (GWI).

In this episode, we go over:

  1. What is a UN NGO and how will the Foundation’s new status as an NGO connect the profession and the goals of the UN?
  2. How is the FM field and the IFMA Foundation supporting the SDGs and DEI?
  3. What is the Global Workforce Initiative and how does it support the SDGs and DEI?

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Episode Transcription

[00:00:00] Dave: Hello and welcome to the IFMA Foundation's new podcast series, rework The Sustainable Development Chronicles. In each episode of this series, we'll focus on one or more of the United Nations sustainable development goals and their impact on the profession of facility management.

In this first episode, we'll be taking a look at how the UN STGs as a whole align with the educational and charitable mission of the IFMA Foundation, and in particular with efforts such as the Global Workforce Initiative. My guest today is Diane Levine, the Executive Director of the ifma Foundation. Diane is a former chair of the foundation as well as a former IFMA board member, workplace consultant and practicing facility. Welcome Diane.

Diane: Thank you, Dave .

Dave: Okay, let's get right down to business. Diane, you've been a leader in the IFMA Foundation for ever since I've known you for a lot of years. First as a [00:01:00] volunteer and now as a staff member. So you've witnessed and let's be honest, you've often inspired the foundation's embrace of the UN SDGs. How do you see the SDGs as aligning with the foundation's core mission of training the FMS of tomorrow and making FM a profession of choice?

Diane: so the SDGs are critical and many are part of the core competencies of facility management. We can't close our eyes to the challenges the world faces today and the positive contribution that we can make. Facility managers are positioned probably more so than any profession, to addressing the sustainable development goals and our global challenges. We directly impact the good portion of the SDGs in indirectly impact the rest.

So our educational programs at the foundation and our colleges and universities address sustainability in the SDGs and the SDGs are even used to attract younger generations to the field, [00:02:00] particularly in universities in the Netherlands . They're actually giving presentations about the SDGs and how FMS can impact the SDGs to attract younger folks to their colleges, and the younger generations understand the UN global challenges addressing the SDGs.

This is their future and their, this is, they're gonna be living in this future and they wanna live in a better world. So we find that sustainability when we're talking to. Is one of the major drivers of younger people getting into the profession.

Dave: That's great. I really love that idea that the SDGs are one of the things that you can use to draw people to the profession of facility management. You know me, I like anything that draws people to the profession of facility management, but this is such a great goal that I'm really pleased to hear from you that it is being used as a. We called this podcast episode the ABCs of Sustainable Development and that's [00:03:00] because there are so many acronyms coming together in the foundation's work these days. Not just SDG , but GWI and DEI and NGO . So let's look at that last one. In 2022, the IPA Foundation was recognized by the United Nations as an ngo, a non-governmental organization with special consultative. Why was this recognition important to the foundation's mission?

Diane: So we're very proud of our new recognition with the United Nations. This is important in three areas. One, to raise awareness of the profession globally. Two, to improve engagement for our facility management. Accredited degree programs in research and three, to form global partnerships. As an NGO we can submit to make present. At the United Nations to talk about the profession and to talk about how we can impact the sustainable development goals and raise awareness of this wonderful field.

If a [00:04:00] foundation for over 23 years has been the global accrediting body for facility management degree programs, we have degree programs all over the world, you can get an associate's, a bachelor's and master's degree, and we see becoming a un NGO as an opportunity. To improve engagement between the research being done at these facility management degree programs and UN SDGs.

So we have a global team that's actually looking at the different entities within the United Nations to see how we can benefit the universities and these accredited degree programs. We also wanna form partnerships to expand our grant programs. Currently, the foundation as grant programs in four states in the United States, and we'd like to grow these internationally.

We partnered with other NGOs and nonprofits and government agencies and workforce development agencies. On these grant programs to educate the economically disadvantaged and also to upskill and reskill incumbent workers in FM [00:05:00] to further the SDGs. So we'd like to, as an ngo, expand our grant work internationally and connect with other NGOs and organizations within the UN to do this.

The Global Workplace Initiative. Workforce Initiative, excuse me, GWI. That's a project you've been working on for, again, ever since I've known you a decade or more. G W I has worked, I know at the college level, the high school level, and even the middle school level. To make young people aware of the opportunities FM provides.

Dave: Can you tell us more about this initiative? For those who may not be aware of it, let us know how it works and the kinds of successes that the foundation has achieved with the gwi.

Diane: Sure. The Global Workforce Initiative does three things. It educates. It connects and invests. The education portion of it is if a foundation know, I mentioned the accredited degree programs, but we also have talent development pipeline programs and registered degree programs [00:06:00] around the globe. The connect part is where the foundation comes in. We connect with educational institutions, community organizations, government agencies, IFMA chapters, and other nonprofit. To educate the future workforce in facility management. The investing comes with investing in the future of facility management by providing scholarships, internships, career connections, events, apprenticeship programs, et cetera.

Just to give you a little history on the Global Workforce Initiative, it really started back in 2015 when Nancy Sanks, who was a trustee, Conducted a bunch of research in a past year of the Yma Foundation. She conducted a bunch of research about the future of education and found that community colleges were moving more towards industry certificates and courses and credentials.

And the cost of college in the [00:07:00] US was increasing year over year. We wanted to, as we were putting our strategic planning together, really understand where education was going in the. And this movement towards industry certificates was of interest to us. And so we were fortunate to know the cfo, of the county of San Bernardino, California, named Mary Hassell. And she basically educated the foundation trustees on workforce development, economic development, how to partner with these types of organizations and educational institutions, and how to really set up this whole continuum. Of lifelong learning. She introduced us to the C E O or the president of Chaffee College and we worked with business, industry, economic and workforce development in the county to develop this program at Chaffee College, which is now a model for all of our grant programs.

And the program consisted [00:08:00] of adding the IMO essentials of facility management to an associates and business. And we added a project management course specific to FM, along with a mandatory internship program. So the program launched in 2017. We did it in two years. We also created a student chapter at Chaffee College.

This student, chapter one student chapter of the year at ima. A lot of these students were economically disadvantaged and now their leaders in the local chapter, they're facility managers and they're making a difference in the field. Then the Chaffee College Program, as I said, is a model for our grant programs. Dean Stanbury, who's the first vice chair of IMA during Covid, introduced me to the folks in economic development in the city of Denver, and they were interested in taking that Chaffee model and doing a program within Denver.

And so we did a pilot during C O V I D and the students, a hundred percent of the students were minorities, 50% were veterans, and 50% were. And we put them through the [00:09:00] essentials of FM and OSHA 10. And the program was successful, so successful that Denver introduced us to the state of Colorado who worked with us to develop a facility manager registered apprenticeship program. And this registered apprenticeship program allowed us to. Submit for grant applications and we've been successful in winning grants in Texas with the Texas Workforce Commission for Pre-Apprenticeship program for the Economically disadvantaged.

We've got another grant in Denver, it's called a Good Green Jobs Grant that we launched last year. We just recently launched a grant program in Boston. With Minuteman Technical Institute, so this model works and students that are graduating from these programs are getting, gainful employment. We're also in these grant programs, training incumbent workers as well, and we're working with the local chapters in Houston and in Denver and in Boston who are [00:10:00] helping to mentor the students, provide jobs, et cetera.

Dave: That's an amazing record of success. But one of the things I think both you and I believe is that facility management can be a great career path for underprivileged and marginalized youth.

It offers 'em a good income stability, a, and work. That's needed. Whatever the economic conditions are. FM is work that really can't be outsourced. It has to, it's so specific to the site where it's performed. How do you see your efforts with the UN and the SDGs aligning with creating those kinds of opportunities for the underprivileged and marginalized youth of our country and our world?

Diane: So our work is directly affecting seven of the SDGs I mentioned, SDG one, which is no poverty. The former COO of San Bernard Bernardino County, told us that we're literally taking families [00:11:00] out of poverty through our program at Chaffee College. Students are leaving the chaff e fm program and they're getting jobs in a career pathway, and they're encouraging their family and friends to enter the field as we learned from Mary Jane that they were really concerned about starting a program. If there weren't any jobs. Students, parents in that county were really leery of having the students study a profession that didn't lead to a good paying job. And Mary Jane told us that when they start telling their family and friends about the field and they start taking the courses, then you have success. One of the drawbacks we've faced in facility management is that people don't really know exactly what we do and where we do it, and that every. Building every, certainly every commercial building has a need for facility management.

So that's a great message to pass on to the youth. Yes. So SDG four, that's quality education. There's three goals within [00:12:00] that S D G that we touch. One is sustainably increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills for employment and decent jobs. So our programs provide quality education in a career. Two fm, which is a well-paid job.

Another goal within quality education is to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development. And then another goal within quality education is sustainably expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries. So we're doing this through our scholarship programs.

These scholarships, a lot of students from the global South are receiving these scholarships. Impacting sustainability in the SDGs. We also impact SDG five. Gender equality Women constitute 22% of the global FM Labor force. IFMA just did a women in FM salary and [00:13:00] compensation survey. The salary survey shows that in the entry level positions, women make the same amount of money as men.

However, when you get into the upper management positions, women are making significantly more than. Then SDG eight, which is decent work in economic growth. Obviously, we're working with our partners in government agencies and economic development and workforce development to reduce the proportion of youth not in employment education and training, and we're providing education and training for decent jobs.

And SDG 10 reduced inequalities. The goal there is to progressively achieve and sustain income growth for the bottom 40% of the population at a rate higher than the national average. There's SDG 11 sustainable cities, so Denver Economic Development, climate Action, sustainability and Resiliency Office. They wanted to create career pathways and opportunities for people from under-resourced communities and work on a just transition to climate resilient future for [00:14:00] Denver. So they created this training and development workforce that will be first in line for increasing high demand jobs. I clean energy, so they created this good Green Jobs grant program, which we were one of several winners of the program.

And so we're working with them to train folks in sustainability and FM and clean energy, and we're also upskilling workers. Denver and other local companies to meet the sustainability goals of Denver. And we're also working with the Denver IFMA chapter and our other folks there as well. And the last one is the SDG 11, which is partnerships. And I've mentioned that, we partner with various organizations to achieve the SDGs.

Dave: That's all. That's all fantastic. One of the topics you mentioned a few minutes ago is one that is really interesting to me and close to my heart, and that is, Diversity, equity and inclusion. And your mention of the salary survey and [00:15:00] the disparities that are seen, do you see the profession of facility management embracing the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion? And if so, are there specific examples that you can cite about how this has benefited those emerging practitioners?

Diane: That foundation is so integral to training. Attracting talent. Two FM is an issue. The labor market is tight, the baby boomers are retiring, and one solution is to reach out to more, a more diverse pool of applicants. Diverse talent is important to the Global Workforce Initiative Advisors who fund the foundation, and they include JLL , Sodexo, and abm, and they are Gwi advisors, we call them, and they fund the foundation basically to get first access to. And they're interested in diverse talent and what's more, a diverse team can be more productive.

Workplace diversity leads to increased creativity, better innovation, faster problem [00:16:00] solving. Higher quality decision making greater profits for the company.

Dave: Absolutely. Absolutely. So what's next for the foundation in its work With the sustainable development goals with the UN and with the Global Workforce Initiative, where? Where am I gonna see you pop up next?

Diane: Hopefully making a presentation at the UN with our team. We've got this global, amazing global taskforce examining all of the different entities within the UN Economic and Social Council to determine how we can best engage some of the entities we're looking at unesco, who I d A and i L o, SDGs. And we're submitting for workshops. We just submitted yesterday to present at the UN high level Political forum. It's our first submission, keeping my fingers crossed. But, we wanna really engage at the United Nations so that we can, tell our story and hopefully benefit the accredited degree programs and create partnerships.

We wanna also go to the UN and discuss all the lessons [00:17:00] learned that we've had from all of these, from our Global Workforce initiative, from all of our education program. And these programs can be replicated around the world. So we're also working with the academic FM degree programs to.

How they can best engage with the UN and learn what types of research they're doing on the SDGs so that can also be presented at the United Nations. And we're gonna continue to grow our accredited degree programs. And our scholarship programs. We're constantly evaluating these programs to learn and grow and improve.

An area of interest for us at the United Nations is this Eric Ty Schultz Sustainability Professional Scholarship program. Recipients of the scholarship program are starting to show now how they're making a difference. And the SDGs. And so we think if folks at the UN and around the world learned more about this, that they might want to help us make this program more sustainable.

And we're really interested in growing the [00:18:00] accredited degree programs, particularly in the global south, cuz that's important to the future of UN's mission. And we're just going to continue to train the green workforce for tomorrow's global challenges.

Dave: That's amazing. It's an amazing record of accomplishments so far, but I think one of the things you're doing for all of us who are listening to you today is to get us excited about, What is going to happen in the future? And you've mentioned some of the organizations that have been sponsors and supporters and advocates of your work. I'm sure there are others who would like to get involved. So how can people who are interested in supporting the foundation and its goals get involved with some of this work?

Diane: There's so many different ways you can help us fill the talent gap by becoming a volunteer, one of our various committees, you can become a career ambassador. We have a whole career ambassador program where folks go out into the K through [00:19:00] 12 and actually college programs to talk about the field of fm, and we can train you on that. You can make presentations to students. You can help us expose youth veteran. And students and the unemployed and underemployed to FM careers, we provide scholarships.

We've given over 1.8 million in scholarships. We average about 25 to 30 a year. You could provide a scholarship to a student in need. You could tell students in potential funders about our scholarship program can find more about that. On our website, you can provide introductions for us to government agencies and potential partner.

Economic workforce development, educational institutions that you think might be a potential partner for the foundation. If you're a company in need of lots of fms and talent, you can join our Global Workforce Initiative Advisor Program and join John Lang with Sal Sodexo and ABM Industries. You can stay connected with us through our website.

You can join us at World Workplace. We've got a big gala coming up. It's [00:20:00] a 1920s theme at the FMA Conference, and there's gonna be a 1920s dance contest. You can enter that contest and donate. Donate to the foundation. As you could see, our work is needed and we need help actually to make folks aware of our significant role in impacting the UN 2030 sdg.

Dave: What a wealth of opportunities and what an amazing organization the foundation is. I think that the work that you're doing and the board of trustees is doing, it just sets an example for so many of us. I wanna thank you so much for setting the scene for us today. Diane, you've given us, really great context for our future episodes of this podcast series that are gonna walk our listeners through individual goals and how they relate to our profession. So once again, appreciate your involvement. Appreciate everything you do, and thanks for your time today.

Diane: Thank you.