How hiring for diversity and inclusion makes the world work better

In the Netherlands, we work closely with customers and the authorities to provide career opportunities for people who otherwise have limited job prospects.

Hiring for diversity and inclusion
At ISS, we’re invested in creating a working culture where everyone feels their voice is heard and supported – no matter their background or education. In partnership with customers, we are finding ways to provide a more diverse and inclusive workplace. 

Edwin van der Pol, Manager of Social Innovation at ISS in the Netherlands, shares how Diversity & Inclusion as a Service for customers drives efforts to recruit with diversity and inclusion in mind, and then continually develop and support employees for long-lasting, engaging careers.

Inclusivity equals innovation 

Inclusion and diversity is about embracing all the ways in which people differ – both visibly and invisibly. We view inclusion and diversity in the broadest sense, encompassing everything from age and gender to sexual orientation and physical ability.  

From the ISS Netherlands headquarters, Edwin and his team run the operational side of our Diversity & Inclusion as a Service offering. This involves initiating projects and opportunities for people who otherwise might have difficulties entering – and staying on – the job market. 

“It’s our responsibility to ensure that our workforce reflects the diversity of our society,” says Edwin. “We recognise that each person has unique strengths, and we choose to embrace those strengths in our way of doing business.”

The benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce are vast and widely documented. Our own research has pointed out that companies with  diverse leadership perform better financially, are more creative and are better at fostering strong business relationships.

“The mix of insights that comes from hiring people from different backgrounds can be hugely beneficial to companies. It brings about alternative ways of thinking and fresh perspectives that often lead to innovation. It’s not always easy, but it’s healthy for society and for our organisation.”

Bringing a diverse workforce to life 

ISS started offering Diversity & Inclusion as a Service in 2015. According to Edwin, the decision to start offering this service was driven by good intention, by law and by the customers. 

“Our customers wanted to find ways to offer a more diverse and inclusive workplace. When a new law was passed in the Netherlands to help disadvantaged people find work, we pulled together and set up a department to make this vision come to life.” 

Across the globe, ISS invests in social innovation projects in cooperation with regional labour markets, local and national government and other entities. One such project in the Netherlands is Top Academy, where ISS works in collaboration with companies and special needs and secondary schools to provide vocational and practical education. Participants are offered opportunities in a diverse range of industries – from catering and landscaping to businesses and banking services and beyond. 

“Top Academy is a project we’re really proud of,” Edwin says. “Every year, we bring about 40 students with no starting qualifications into the program and conduct hybrid learning at our customers base. It has added significant value to ISS customers, employees and their families, and benefits for society as a whole.” 

Top Academy has a huge value for everyone involved, and exemplifies the power of our partnerships with customers like PwC:

"I am proud of our Top Academy journey,” says Marjolein Kurstjens, Demand Manager Facility Management at PwC Netherlands. “Yearly we have a maximum of 12 students from several practical education schools in the Rotterdam area working daily at the Rotterdam office.” 

The students divide their time between school, on-the-job learning, and practical lessons at the office, with teachers coming to PwC to teach. This balance of academics with guided on-site learning has proven effective for these students.

“With intensive mentoring, coaching on the job and by giving these kids a lot of trust, you can see their talents blossom and their confidence grow,” Marjolein adds. “When they successfully complete this route, they have a great diploma. Even more importantly, they have gained demonstrable relevant working experience in a demanding and complex organisation. This gives them a great start to a further career. Several students progressed last year to a next learn-work route or to a job within ISS.” 

With intensive mentoring, coaching on the job and by giving these kids a lot of trust, you can see their talents blossom and their confidence grow.

Marjolein Kurstjens, Demand Manager Facility Management, PwC Netherlands
Supporting people for success 

At the Enexis office in Den Bosch, Sultan supports ISS food services under the Diversity & Inclusion programme. Her role involves organising the company lunch, ordering supplies, and facilitating the catering process. Sultan deals with mental health difficulties and anxiety, and benefits from the extra support her colleagues and managers can provide. 
“When I first started at ISS, I was incredibly insecure. I was anxious to travel to work and I truly believed I couldn’t make a difference in the workplace,” says Sultan. “However, shortly after starting at ISS, my views about myself changed. I became more confident and I really started enjoying my work. I got along well with my ISS colleagues and the atmosphere was positive and encouraging.”

For Sultan, her new role provides an opportunity to get out of her comfort zone and find engaging employment in a safe and supportive environment. 

“ISS gave me the chance to develop as a person and to develop my skills in catering. When I needed assistance, my colleagues were always available to assist and support me. The ISS Diversity & Inclusion programme also arranged a job coach to support me and my manager to ensure further development.”

Sultan is one of more than 400 people hired in 2019 as part of our Diversity & Inclusion programme in the Netherlands. The programme has been so well-received that it was awarded the Rockefeller Foundation’s 2019 Global Impact Sourcing Award, recognising our efforts towards hiring and providing career development opportunities to people who otherwise have limited prospects for sustainable employment. 

Edwin believes that the programme’s success is fuelled largely by ISS’s holistic inclusion and diversity approach. 

“At ISS, inclusion is a high priority. It’s so important that this approach is genuine and supported by all employees, not merely from the top down.”

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