History of human rights at ISS

As December is Human Rights Month, let’s take a look back at the evolution of human rights at ISS from our foundation in 1901 through to the initiatives protecting and honouring human rights today. 



Our legacy, our people

In the past 120 years, ISS has grown from a small security firm in Copenhagen into one of the largest facility management firms globally. As we believe that people make places, respect for the individual and a strong sense of equality have been part of our culture since the beginning.



Putting our people first through time

Did you know that we were one of the first Danish companies to hire a human resources manager? Gerda Buhl joined ISS in 1940 to improve the welfare of cleaners in need. Before public welfare was fashionable, she set up a “welfare department”, helping employees with loan schemes, donations, housing, and so on.



From local action to global commitments

At the dawn of the new millennium, we became one of the founding signatories of United Nation’s Global Compact – the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative. Being a part underscores our commitment to honour and meet fundamental responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

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2015 - 2016

Assessing our impact and taking action

As a global business, are aware of our potential impact on human rights. We conducted a due diligence self-assessment to understand our impact across our value chain, identifying three areas: labour, forced labour and the right to privacy, and addressed these by strengthening related requirements in the ISS Global People Standards.

“ISS is built on a foundation of equity, inclusion, fairness and respect for all individuals. Empowering all groups of people is simply in our culture."

Margot Slattery, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion
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Empowering people with disabilities

In the past year, we have signed multiple international commitments - including the Valuable 500, an initiative uniting the world’s leading businesses to unlock the value of the 1.3 billion people living with disabilities around the world.

Smart business people working together with laptop while talking in the coworking place.


Fostering women’s empowerment

The year also saw us commit to the United Nation’s Women’s Empowerment Principles. By doing so, we are strengthening our ongoing commitment to fostering gender equality and empowering women in the workforce and in the marketplace.

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Doing our part in the global refugee crisis

Recently, we signed the Mentoring Refugee Women initiative by the Tent Partnership for Refugees and Catalyst. As a company with a long tradition of including minorities and socially excluded people into our workforce, we look forward to mentoring refugee women in key workforce skills as a part of the initiative.

Looking ahead

We stand committed to our efforts to cultivate a diverse and inclusive culture where everyone feels safe, valued and heard – but we know we still have work to do. Going forward, we will have great ambitions on our five dimensions; Cultures, Race & Ethnicity, Generations & Age, Pride, Abilities and Gender Balance, such as achieving at least a 40% gender balance in all corporate leadership levels by 2025.