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 recognize 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 organization.”
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 labor 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 organization. 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.”