Diversity and Inclusion as a key driver of the future workplace


What does an inclusive workplace look like? How do we foster a truly inclusive culture throughout the organisation? And how do we make sure that our D&I efforts are connected to our sustainability and business strategies and translated into great hires, innovation and growth?

Diversity and Inclusion as a key driver of the future workplace

What does an inclusive workplace look like? How do you foster a truly inclusive culture? And how do you connect Diversity & Inclusion efforts to sustainability and business strategies?

These and many more questions were explored at an event held for key ISS customers and stakeholders at ISS headquarters in Copenhagen focusing on Diversity & Inclusion as a key driver of the future workplace.

‘’Extensive research has shown that inclusive companies with a diverse workforce and management, perform better regarding profitability, innovation, talent attraction and retention,’’ commented Jacob Aarup-Andersen, Group CEO, when opening the event.

Actions speak louder than words

Through a series of presentations and a lively panel discussion, dialogue centered around putting words into actions to create truly inclusive workplaces.

‘’Perfectionism can create paralysis in Diversity & Inclusion,’’ said Serena Palmer, Head of Diversity & Talent at Ørsted. ‘’Everyone is waiting for the right time, but there’s no silver bullet. So, give yourself permission to experiment.’’

Margot Slattery, Head of Group Diversity & Inclusion at ISS, added, ‘’It’s about accountability. You can have all the aspirations and dreams in the world, but we need change to happen.’’

‘’It’s important to provide a framework for how we want it to happen, for example by putting Diversity & Inclusion in people’s objectives and making it part of business reviews.’’

Designing workplace experiences

‘’The Diversity & Inclusion agenda is an integral part of our conversations with customers, when we talk about designing and facilitating great workplaces,’’ said Ulla Riber, Head of Group Workplace Management at ISS.

‘’Workplaces are becoming increasingly people focused. This is clear from our latest ISS Pulse Survey that shows that employee engagement is now businesses’ top priority. From that perspective, the Diversity & Inclusion agenda becomes even more important for customers.’’

The deliberate design and execution of workplace experiences can support the Diversity & Inclusion agenda. ‘’For example, integrating wheelchair usage in the height of a meeting setting – table height, participant height – allowing all to be at the same physical level,’’ said Ulla.

‘’And as the future moves towards non-binary, the workplace design can support or even challenge such as implementing gender neutral or everyone restrooms with many customers,’’ added Ulla.

An ongoing journey

Rachel Osikoya, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Maersk, spoke about their Diversity & Inclusion from building the foundations, driving for results, embedding into the culture to leveraging the benefits.

‘’This is not a linear journey, however’, said Rachel. ‘’You will have to keep going back and forth.’’

‘’Having so many employees from different countries and cultures is at the same time a huge strength of a company,’’ continued Rachel.

‘’It’s really important to bear in mind that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to a company’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts. Every company needs to look at its own organisation and people, not least in regard to maturity within the Diversity & Inclusion agenda.’’

Rachel also spoke about the need to be bold and brave. ‘’When working in large global complex organisations, there will always be someone who disagrees with the approach, specific initiatives, and so on. But be brave and courageous enough to continue.’’

Shared knowledge drives change

With increasing understanding of the importance of Diversity & Inclusion as part of a company’s sustainability efforts, Tracy Nilsson, Head of Sustainability at ISS, spoke about the importance of collaboration.

‘’This not a new topic, but there’s no blueprint. Using shared knowledge is key, as it takes a group of people to truly drive change. That is unity in action,’’ said Tracy.

It’s like learning to drive a car

In their joint presentation, Marte Albertine Indergård, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Nordics, at Korn Ferry and Katriina Schøier, Senior Client Partner, Global ISS Talent Acquisition Account Lead, at Korn Ferry focused on talent.

‘’Diversity & Inclusion is about structural and behavioural change. It’s like learning to drive a car, the more you practice, the better you get.’’

‘’But that’s not enough, you also need the infrastructure; stop signs, go signs, traffic lights, parking spaces. So, it is also about talent development through the Diversity & Inclusion lens.’’

Building on a strong legacy

ISS has a more than 120 year-legacy as a people company with a strong drive to act as social incubators to make a difference for employees, customers and the communities we operate in.

We continue to accelerate our D&I efforts. For instance, we’ve reached our target of gender balance on ISS’s Board of Directors and have set a target for reaching at least 40% gender balance at corporate leadership level by 2025.

‘’However, we also still have a journey ahead of us,’’ said Jacob. ‘’We also need to translate our ambitions into even more actions that will make a true difference, both tomorrow and in the future.’’