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Welcome to our Diversity Diary

I am Nicky, I’ve worked in the People and Culture department of ISS UK for almost 13 years in a variety of different guises including as an Equality and Diversity trainer. 
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion impacts on every area of our life, not least our working life, so I feel really privileged to have been asked to write a diary on a diversity topic each month that will engage, support and start conversations.

There are so many different topics that I could write about so I will be using the external diversity calendar as my framework unless I receive a specific request from a colleague to write about a particular topic. Each time a new diary is published it will be added to the list below; I welcome feedback, so please do contact me via: if you have any comments.

Thanks for reading.

This October marks 30 years of Black History Month UK where the achievements of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and individuals are celebrated in the UK.

Instead of publishing a Diversity Diary for October, I am interviewing some amazing black role models from our ISS community each week of the month who will tell us about their lives, their career path and who has inspired them along the way.  

This week, I am in conversation with Joseph Mullings, Bid Executive, who I first met very recently when we were both working in the South Quay office.  
Joseph’s Story 

My time at ISS 

I joined ISS in May 2015 as a Bid Executive working on new business opportunities within the UK Private Sector Business Development Team. 

I studied English literature at University and have a writing background so this experience allows me to craft what we’re saying to the customer in a creative way. 

I have recently successfully applied to work as a bid manager and technical writer for ISS North America. In January 2018 I am due to move to Canada and will be shortly followed by my wife and four children to begin a new chapter of our lives and continue my ISS journey with the North American team. 

My time outside of work 

When I am not in the office or spending time with my family, I am working in the community as an assistant pastor at our Pentecostal church or on projects which address issues which affect people in my local area of Harlesden, London. 

Over the past 15 years I’ve been involved in setting up a number of community initiatives. In 2002 I set up the Faith Links initiative in the Park Royal Centre for Mental Health with a Lead Social Worker. Our initiative was the first of its kind in the UK, and remains the only inpatient unit that has weekly church services delivered to people suffering with mental ill-health. In 2005 I started up a charity for ex-offenders with some friends. The Prisoner’s Liaison Information Advisory Service started its work in Brent, and today delivers information advice and guidance to ex-offenders in prisons like HMP Wormwood Scrubs and in the community, to aid breaking the cycle of reoffending.

I still have strong links with Wormwood Scrubs and Brixton prison where I have delivered and currently deliver religious services. My work in prisons began at Wormwood Scrubs working with the chaplaincy team. I was invited to join the team by the lead chaplain who heard me preach at the funeral of a young man who was brutally murdered. The services worked really well with up to 200 prisoners attending worship across two services and it was shown to have a really positive impact on the prisoners’ behaviour on the wing so prison management wanted to replicate this success at Brixton. They transplanted our team from Wormwood over to Brixton where I continue to ‘moderate’ services which means that I lead the singing, music, scripture and prayers whilst a colleague conducts the sermon. 

Joseph Mullings

The enthusiasm with which the services are received by the 80-100 prisoners who attend the Brixton service is remarkable. Many attendees are at different points of the journey, some have converted to Christianity in prison and are at the beginning of their religious journey whilst others have reconnected with their faith whilst in prison. Others arrive as fully fledged Christians but are in prison because of their immigration status, or in one case due to a car accident which involved the fatality of child. It’s not just the people you would suspect and expect. This diversity of people aids the continuity of what we do in the weeks between our services. Christians in prison help other prisoners to connect or reconnect to faith at a time when they need it most. These services give hope.

I am currently working on a project started by a charity called Spark2Life, and co-funded by the Catlyst Housing Group and the Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund. Spark2Life aims to intervene and prevent gang culture occurring by providing opportunities for young people to take a different path into education, training, employment or starting their own businesses. 

I became involved in this project when a local young man who was not a gang member was shot and killed in a gang-related vengeance attack. About six months later another young life was taken in the same manner. The first was killed on the road where my church is based in March 2016. It feels now like a watershed moment for our community. There hadn’t been a killing in the area for a while before this happened and the victim had absolutely nothing to do with the feuding between the two rival gangs. It apparently happened because of mistaken identity; he was a bright guy, who had qualifications, was working, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and looked like someone else.

For me, the reality was that this killing happened 400 metres from my church. We had congregation members living on the road where it had happened which made it feel too close to home and too random to ignore but it also felt like the gangs were “taking the gloves off” and were terrorising the area to such an extent that we had to publically pull together and take action. These incidents sparked lots of community meetings which explored how we could challenge and disrupt the destructive cycle that results in such tragic loss of lives.

Spark2Life committed a project manager to manage two people that they employed on the Estate to act as mentors and guides to young people and signpost them in the right direction. They used the music studio as the major engagement tool to get the attention of the youths on the estate. 

I pitched an idea to run some Business Masterclasses, which we called “Cut Out for Business Programme”. In the first year, we delivered a number of these on the estate and the penultimate session in the boardroom at SQP, with the help of some successful leaders within ISS of African Caribbean origin (Ray Perrotte, and Eustace Xavier). Our presenters included successful people from my personal and professional network. We had a financial advisor, marketing consultant, millionaire entrepreneur and angel investor, and “social entrepreneurs” who advise on starting-up business and charities, 

We held the final session in the ISS Corporate Box at Wembley with Richard Sykes, Regional CEO for Western Europe. It was in fact Richard who signed this off just as he was leaving the UK post. When I asked him for the boardroom, he replied ‘Why don’t you have the corporate box at Wembley seeing it’s so close to the group?’ so I cheekily pushed for both, he agreed and he came to speak about his inspirations at the first Wembley session. Since then Stephanie Hamilton, People and Culture Director, UK and Ireland has been responsible for signing off these sessions, and I can’t say how grateful I am for that.

We used the Wembley hospitality box for Dragon’s Den style investment sessions. In advance of the sessions we did a number of coaching sessions about what investors want to see and hear. One of the biggest challenges for the young people was understanding that investors want to invest in a person - the business model and plan has to make sense but ultimately an investor will invest in the person as much as the business. Our investors were keen to see how they presented themselves as a potential future business partner.

The current cohort have set up a record label and are receiving royalties for their music which wouldn’t have happened as quickly without access to the project. What I mean by this is that you have a group of guys from a council estate in a room talking about their hopes, dreams and business ideas but successful people need to be present to tell them that what they perceive as a barrier is an opportunity. It is so important to get someone in a room that has gotten over the barriers and walked the road to success from literally the same level that they started, nothing is more powerful than someone standing in front of you saying, “If I can do it, so can you, stop making excuses!”

Moments like these are the reason I have put this programme together. We have created a space where we challenge and inject aspiration. Additionally, as a father and husband, I also relish the moments where we can just talk about what family means to us. My values can be quite challenging but everyone craves a stable and loving home. A lot of these guys have found a sense of family amongst people with little regard for the lives of others. At the root of that there’s sometimes a lot of pain stemming from their upbringing. Being in the room and being an example not just in business but in life is probably something that I value even more.

Social justice is a really big deal. It requires the best of us to care for the worst of us and the only way that doesn’t matter is if you don’t recognise your community as extended family.  

My heroes

As a devout Christian when you ask about my inspiration my first thought goes to Jesus Christ because he triumphed over adversity with great humility and he achieved his mission to change the world in just three short years. 

My next thought goes to my father whose mission has been decidedly longer. Dad began the Restoration, Revival, Fellowship church in his home basement in Shepherd Bush in the 1960s and has devoted his life to growing the Church in the UK, India and Africa –motivated by his need to spread the word of God and improve communities. 


It is almost impossible to imagine a British Caribbean leaving his young family in the UK to spend 6 months travelling to various countries talking about Jesus, let alone the legacy of his work being so extensive that there are currently 70 branches of the church in India as well as 17 in Kenya and 4 in the UK. Dad was involved in the initial ‘planting’ of the first church in India, this means that he worked to teach and train the people who would support the church long term. In his role he visits periodically, ordaining new ministers, supporting fundraising for new buildings, attending conferences and visiting congregations when requested by the leaders in India.  

My dad is unstoppable. He doesn’t feel that his work is done yet, and he is still energetic about the work of the church here and abroad. In his eyes his work won’t be over until he wakes up on the other side. Watching him my entire life has impacted me on both a conscious and subconscious level. Subconsciously, I’ve always wanted to be like him, I’m aware of this now. He’s impacted the lives of so many for good and selflessly served, even at times to his own apparent detriment. But he, and our family, whilst not having everything have not lacked for anything.

I don’t think that I could ever give what my dad gave because he made sacrifices that laid the foundation for what the church organisation has become but I try and make a difference where I can. I have taken the view that correlates to James 4:17: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” This for me means using whatever knowledge, access and time that I have and to help people less fortunate than myself.

The Mullings are such an incredible inspiration to us all, raising families, growing a church, living and breathing their values and beliefs and committing time and energy to improving the lives of others. 

Joseph works full time for ISS, raises four children, delivers church services in Brixton prison and is actively involved in the church and with community projects. It makes me wonder what more you and I could you do that involves caring for or helping others? 

For more information about Black History Month and events in your area go to: #BHM2017

Get involved by telling us who your heroes are and why? It could be someone from your community, or a notable figure. Tell us: 
This October marks 30 years of Black History Month UK where the achievements of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and individuals are celebrated in the UK.

I’m Nicky Siddall-Collier and instead of publishing a Diversity Diary for October, we will be talking each week to some amazing black role models from our ISS community who will tell us about their career path and who has inspired them along the way.

We start by getting to know Ray Perrotte, UK Corporate Director who is one of our most senior black leader at ISS, devoted father of two,  friend to many, and total role model – even if he’d really rather not be.

Ray and I have worked together for many years and the key thing that always shines through when you work with him is his passion for people and ensuring that they are treated properly and with respect. Here’s his story. 

Ray’s Story 

My career path 

I joined the Army as a Junior Leader in the Royal Engineers straight after school at 16 and was engaged in military engineering and construction tasks such as bridge building and working with explosives and mine warfare. I was posted to the Falklands within days of the war ending in June 1982 and spent six months helping to get the island back onto its feet and including preparing the runway so that RAF Phantom Jets could land. I spent a total of eight years in the force including several years in Germany working as a combat engineer, first aid instructor and regimental medic which means that I was trained to looked after injured soldiers although I never saw combat as I served between wars.  

When you sign up to join the Army you choose the number of years you want to serve and when my eight years was up I decided that I was ready for a new challenge and owing to my medical experience I joined the London Ambulance Service where I was a Paramedic for 12 years. 

I spent a number of years dealing with every kind of 999 call that you can imagine - car crashes, heart attacks and stabbings. There was a culture of lethargy that didn’t sit well with me. In the military you don’t sit around idle, so I struggled with this culture and when a new position of Shift Leader became available I didn’t hesitate to apply and I expected to be successful. A lot of my colleagues didn’t want the responsibility and didn’t trust management but I thought that it was better to change things from inside rather than shouting about it from the outside. I knew that the bottom rung wasn’t going to be where you made changes and it just wasn’t the place for me. 

In the ambulance service there was only one black guy, John the Community Relations Officer who was more senior than me and he was my inspiration and unofficial mentor. He guided me through situations that I found challenging, he’d listen and make suggestions but most importantly he was a role model for me; he showed me that it was possible in a sea of white people for a black man to get promoted and that the glass ceiling could be smashed.  

Our society has changed significantly since I was a paramedic. Institutional prejudice has been identified and is being challenged, but, the glass ceiling that I felt as a young man still exists in the UK. Around 12.5% of the population are Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) but they hold just 6% of top management positions and PwC voluntarily reported last month that BAME people within their organisation earn 13% less than white people This means that it continues to be really important for role models to be visible and to show people that it is possible to progress because you can’t be what you can’t see. 

I have worked in a variety of roles for ISS since 2001 and ISS has been a real family affair for me because not only has my mum worked as a cleaner for us (without me realising it), but my eldest daughter Daisy is a Team Leader in Hospitality and my youngest CoCo is doing work experience in Catering.

I am currently the UK Corporate Director for one of the Key Accounts within the Finance Sector of the company. This means that I’m responsible for 1,500 people across the corporate estate in the UK who deliver cleaning catering, engineering, mailroom, logistics, front of house and security services to our customer, making sure that we meet the Key Performance Indicators and that my team leaders and managers are focused on ensuring that our people are happy in their roles and have the tools to do their job. I am really happy in this role because I’m in a unique position to influence the right behaviours amongst my management team which plays to my strengths of people focus. 

My heroes

I have thought hard about who has been my inspiration and as well as my ambulance service mentor who showed me that I could progress my career, it is also people who have stood up to be counted that have most inspired me over the years because that is just so important to do.  

At the ambulance service, I had to work for a period with a very difficult group because this was the only route to my second promotion. I trained with them for six weeks and quietly wrote down every racist, sexist and homophobic comment that I heard from them. As I was congratulated on my promotion I handed the dossier to my superior officer. It wasn’t easy but I just had to stand up for what was right and as a result change happened. 

Ray Perotte holds a picture of his Black History Heroes from the past and current

At the moment, the people who immediately spring into my mind as my heroes are the NFL players who are ‘taking the knee’ during the American national anthem to protest against police brutality towards people of colour. This protest began with Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers sitting during the anthem and saying “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color”. Kaepernick was later persuaded by a black US Special Forces operative to instead “take a knee” as a compromise that would honour men and women who have sacrificed their lives and mirror the action of soldiers’ showing respect for their fallen comrades whilst also peacefully protesting injustices. 

Thinking about this led me to thinking about Tommie Smith and John Carlos who won the 200m Gold and Bronze medals during the October Olympics of 1968 and raised gloved fists during the American anthem alongside Peter Norman who won silver for Australia and wore a badge on the podium in support of the Olympic Project for Human Rights. 

In the USA in 1968, legislation allowing mixed race marriages and outlawing racial discrimination in housing had only just been passed; intimidation of black people legally registering to vote was still rife and Martin Luther King Junior had been assassinated only five months earlier but Smith and Carlos suffered immediate vitriolic racist abuse and all three men experienced lifelong hardship for their peaceful protest, not dissimilar to the professional ostracism now being experienced by Colin Kaepernick for engaging in the most humble and respectful of acts. 
This shows me that role models often still have to be brave because standing out from the crowd may not always be comfortable but it is utterly necessary to elicit change. 

What can we take away from Ray’s story?

You might not feel comfortable with the moniker of ‘role model’ but it is a really important job to embrace. Your inspiration may encourage someone to a place that they would never otherwise have thought possible.  

Don’t wait for a mentor to come your way. Seek one out. Or why not be one? 

If you get the opportunity to be a mentor or mentee grasp it with both hands. I am certain that John got as much from their relationship as Ray did. 

Be brave- you will make a change and it will be worth it. 

For more information about Black History Month and events in your area go to: #BHM2017.

Get involved by telling us who your heroes are and why. It could be someone from your community, or a notable figure. Tell us: at

September 2017

This month’s diversity diary coincides with National Inclusion Week which has as its theme for 2017 ‘Connect for Inclusion’. 

Difference enriches our lives and generates new perspectives and ideas, so my challenge to you this month is to connect with others, have a conversation with someone in the office or at the site where you work that you don’t normally engage with, sit with a different group at lunchtime, ask a member of your client’s staff to go for a coffee and broaden your connections. 

                                                                                                                         National Inclusion Week
I was really excited when I was asked to connect with the person telling us their story this month because I was getting to indulge my interest in history and religion as well as diversity with a colleague whom I’ve never met despite the fact that he’s worked for ISS for a couple of years and it was one of the most entertaining couple of hours that I’ve had at work in the last couple of months. Our colleague has asked me not to share his name. 

Individual self-told story 

On the whole, my family is pretty religious, an example of this My grandfather spent six months travelling the 3,216 miles from Bangladesh to Mecca to perform Hajj, this journey  can now be achieved on a flight of under six hours. Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims are expected to make at least once in their lifetime if they are physically, mentally and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and is one of the five pillars of Islam. The others are shahadah (declaration of faith); salat (daily prayer); zakat (giving of alms) and sawm (fasting in Ramadan) which some of your colleagues in ISS may observe more strictly than others. 

I believe it was the 1960s when Dad came to the UK from Bangladesh with his brother and lived in Birmingham and Manchester, as well as London. Like me, he has not always been a practicing Muslim and was a ‘bit of a geezer’ who went to the casino, got into fights and drank alcohol at times. He was a very well-known character, business man and fundraiser in the local community. He was always on the phone after 6pm when it was free to make landline calls and I jokingly say he is responsible for the number of Asians that there are in our area because he would help people to obtain mortgage advice, let them know when properties became available for sale and introduce people whose daughters and sons were ready for marriage. 

After Dad had his first heart attack he became more religious and was really upset that he could no longer read the Quran as he’d been away from Arabic for so long. He went to Mecca, called us to tell us how inspirational it was to be with God alongside Muslims from all over the world and was so inspired that when he returned, he began to raise money to build the first mosque in our area. The oldest mosque in England was built in Woking in 1889 and there has been a mosque in London since 1926 but obviously it took a while longer than that to get one in good old Essex and that became Dad’s mission. 


Shah Jahan Mosque, Woking (the oldest mosque in the UK)

After a period of fund raising and making friends and contacts with local councillors, Dad eventually acquired a derelict building and permission for the left hand side of it to be converted to a mosque (the council didn’t want a large mosque) and our first prayers were held on concrete. 

I’m a lot like my Dad and as a kid I would pretend that I was leaving the house to go to mosque but then sneak back upstairs to bed like he would sneak to the casino. Most of my friends at school were not Muslim or Asian (although saying that, there are many similarities between Judaism, Christianity and Islam that many people are unaware of) but when I was about 15 I met a Muslim in science class who showed me a more modern, dynamic version of Islam that wasn’t ‘old men with beards in jack up pants showing their ankles’. He talked to me about Islam, I began to appreciate the guidance that the Quran gave for living life and we persuaded the school to allow us to observe Jumu’ah which is congregational prayers just after noon on Fridays.  

Right now, I describe myself as Muslim and I read certain passages from the Quran which gave my Dad peace when he was in hospital before he died and have been a real comfort to me after losing my Dad, but I don’t fast during Ramadan or pray five times a day and I only occasionally attend Jumu’ah. Like a lot of Christians who don’t attend Church or pray regularly. 

My Dad was my superhero and an absolute legend, over 600 people came to his funeral, I’ve received posthumous awards on his behalf for his fundraising for a cancer hospital and I am still learning to live without him. 

The lessons that I have learned from his loss is to always make time to connect with your parents and tell them that you love them even when they annoy you. The lesson that I have learned from my Dad’s life are to always make time for people and to help people, simply because you can, rather than because you will benefit from doing so.   

It’s good to talk

If you have found this interesting please have a read of the Management Guide to Religion and Belief and if you would like to discuss or need help with any of the issues covered in the Diversity Diary this month, do get in touch.

Also, if you have comments and suggestions on the Diversity Diary or on Dignity, Diversity and Inclusion in general or if you would like to be involved in an inclusivity network in the future, we would love to hear from you.

As ever you can contact me on:

Thanks for reading, 


August 2017

I feel very privileged to write this monthly Diversity Diary which leads me to this month’s diversity diary theme which focuses on privilege and allyship. 

I was told about something that happened at ISS recently and my immediate reaction was that it was an excellent example of an employee using their privilege and being a great ally. 

The person who told me about it hadn’t made the same connection so they suggested that this be my next diary subject and here we are. 

The colleagues involved in this story have asked not to be identified, so we are not providing precise details and we will refer to them as D & M. 


Individual Self Told Story – D & M

D: “I was working a normal shift and M and several of the other staff were talking about something which had happened which they knew wasn’t intentional but which had upset them all. 

Although I don’t share the protected characteristic (1) of the group, I could see where they were coming from, did some of my own research and suggested that they raise the issue with the People and Culture department.

After about a week, the matter was still being discussed but no action had been taken to talk to anyone senior about it. M told me that the group feared for their jobs if they raised it and were doubtful any action were taken if they did report it anyway. So I said that I would raise it for them, M agreed and I did.

When I look back, it was a little bit daunting because being an employee is a little bit like being in a parent / child relationship and the answer could be “it’s like that because I say so” but I didn’t think too much about it at the time. I just did it.

I didn’t think that my job would be on the line, but now that you ask, I do think that it was easier for me to raise the matter as someone who didn’t share the characteristic of the group that was most affected by what had happened.”

M: “D had the courage to raise a matter which we felt was a sensitive and potentially controversial issue to raise and we admire him greatly for coming forward. A mistake was made but after it had been investigated, a sincere apology was given and robust procedures have now been put in place to prevent it from happening again. That wouldn’t have happened without D’s bravery and we want him to be recognised for this. 

The group involved know that human beings make errors, we knew that what happened wasn’t deliberate and we love working for ISS but we also felt that by raising it ourselves we might be seen as ‘using the XXX card’”. 

Why was D ‘privileged’ and an ally? 

Now I know that, most of us don't live in mansions, drive Porsches or turn left when we take a flight. When we look around at bankers, Eton educated politicians and footballers (2) we probably don't feel like we have their type of privilege and yet most of us will have some or more likely, a lot of privilege, we just don’t realise it.

‘Privilege’ is unearned social, economic and political advantages, rights or power which is given by society to all members of a dominant group. It is usually invisible to those who have it, but nevertheless it puts them at an advantage over those who don’t have it (3).

In D’s case he belonged to a dominant group because he and the majority of people in the UK don’t share the protected characteristic of M and the affected group. This gave him the social advantage of being able to raise a complaint about a mistake that has been made without feeling fear that he would be stigmatised or dismissed because of it. D hasn’t done anything to earn that social advantage; he simply has it.

He didn’t recognise it as an advantage but the lack of this privilege was obviously and acutely felt by M and the others.

When I discussed the concept of privilege with a Regional Director for Security, he told me that it helps him to think of it as being empowered or socially more enabled to better support people and to make their lives better. D was empowered to support M and he has made ISS a better place for the future by providing his support.

More examples

The vast majority of societies are patriarchal which means that men (4) hold primary power, political leadership, control of property and business and social privilege.

To give a few examples, in the UK and Ireland:

• there are more men called Dave or David who are CEO’s in the FTSE 100 than there are total women (regardless of their name); 

• the language of the law and our common vocabulary defaults to male e.g. ‘mankind’, ‘spokesman’, ‘men at work’ and when a women is successful in a prestigious, male dominated environment she is referred to first by her sex e.g. ‘female doctor’, which in turn helps to contribute to occupational segregation because children learn at a very young age which jobs are ‘for them’; and

• males are less likely to be interrupted when they speak or be called bossy when they assert themselves.

I am a woman so I don’t have male privilege but I do have the privilege of being white so:

• the people that I see on TV, in films, books and magazines generally look like me; 
• if I graduated from university in 2016 I would be paid 23% more than a Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) graduate.
• I am statistically more likely to be able to progress at work because whilst the BAME community makes up 14% of the UK population, only 4% of FTSE 100 companies have BAME CEOs and only 8% of management roles are filled by BAME employees. 

I also have the privilege of:

• not looking disabled so I’m not talked down to and patronised on a daily basis and can use public transport without meticulously planning these arrangements;
• I am married to a partner of the opposite sex so when I am asked about my home life I don’t have to make a snap decision about whether to reveal my sexual orientation and our marriage remains legitimate and respected wherever in the world we chose to travel to; and
• I am not subjected to harassment or physical assault because I don’t dress in a way which symbolises that I follow a particular religion.

However, privilege isn’t just about the legally protected characteristics either because educations levels, class, social status, your family background, general health, where you live and grew up, accent, weight, language skills, other peoples’ perceptions about your attractiveness and even your height can give you an advantage or disadvantage.

This isn’t about blaming people who have privilege, possessing it is nobody’s fault, it’s just the way of our society but what really matters is how you use it and that links in to your personal values and those of ISS.

Why does it matter? 

From a business perspective, it has been shown time and again that diverse teams with inclusive leadership outperform homogenous teams, but for me, it’s the inherent unfairness that needs to be challenged.

Not bothered about that? OK let’s get really personal. You may find religion, you might move to live in a country where you’re no longer the dominant majority, you could become disabled at any time and you will age. If and when these things happen your personal privilege will diminish so why not consider using your privilege to make a change to society whilst you have it?

Tips on being an ally  
You may unwittingly become an ally like D, but if you really want to make long-term changes and improvements, make a commitment and effort to recognise your privilege and work in solidarity with non-privileged groups. This isn’t always easy because privilege is often invisible and disguised as meritocracy; that is the point of my diary this month – reflect on yourself in different environments, are you the one with privilege – what are you doing with it?

You will probably want to do some homework, will almost certainly have to change your behaviour and become ‘anti’ (e.g. anti-discrimination, anti-racist, anti-sexist etc.) which will mean putting your head above the parapet, but you can do so in the knowledge that your head is way safer than your less privileged colleague, friend or family member.

• Do some research on privilege and being a good ally – start with the notes list below and see where the internet takes you (please do share any gems with me).

• Think about the language that you and those around you use e.g. ‘that’s so lame’, ‘what does your wife do?’, ‘I’m recruiting a man in a van’, ‘I’m crazy busy’, ‘it’s insane’, ‘man up’ etc. etc. etc. I will do a more detailed Diversity Diary at some point about the importance of language, so watch this space in the middle of each month.
• Don’t let acts of bias, discrimination or poor language choices pass by, raise them - especially when the person who is being discriminated against is not present. Either ‘call it out’ which means challenging it there and then, or ‘call it in’ which means having a separate / off line conversation explaining why what has happened is not OK. This is what D did. The latter is likely to be received better, but the former is sometimes necessary in the heat of the moment and to set an example.

• Beware of being a ‘saviour’. D didn’t just steam in and solve the problem for M and the group, he listened, gave advice, waited and then, with express permission he raised the issue. This is textbook ally behaviour without him even knowing it. D you are an inspiration to us all.

• If you do nothing else watch this seven minute video from The Book of Life giving an alternative to political correctness It reminds me of our People and Culture Policy.

• Don’t let people interrupt others in meetings – the chances are that it will be someone with privilege doing the interrupting (and often someone who is white and / or male, if you don’t believe me… Use your privilege to stop this happening e.g. “I was really interested in what XX was saying could we let them finish first”. This is also part of our mission statement to empower people, you are empowered to make the difference in these situations. Doing the right thing can often really feel good too.

• Likewise, make sure that credit is given to the person who first verbalises an idea because again, studies have shown that a woman’s input is likely to be ignored until it is repeated by man (which is known as broppropriation). As a woman you can help other women out by repeating their idea – this is called amplification and it means that the idea is more likely to be credited to the originator.

• Champion, mentor or reverse mentor someone who doesn’t look like you because research has shown that this is one of the most effective ways of sharing your privilege and creating opportunities for marginalised groups.

This list is by no means exhaustive so if I have missed something crucial please let me know and I’ll do a follow up diary in the future.

1) The protected characteristics within the Equality Act 2010 are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, which includes colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins and caste; religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. 
2) Be honest, what gender and race did you picture in your head when you read the words banker, politician and footballer? 
3) The concept of privilege is credited to WEB Du Bois (1930) and was developed further by Peggy McIntosh (1988).
4) I use the binary descriptions of male and female in this diary but I recognise and acknowledge the wide spectrum of gender identity.

It’s good to talk
If you would like to discuss or need help with any of the issues covered in Diversity Diary this month, do get in touch.

Also, if you have comments and suggestions on Diversity Diary or on Dignity, Diversity and Inclusion in general or if you would like to be involved in an inclusivity network in the future, we would love to hear from you.

As ever you can contact me:

Thanks for reading, 



July 2017

This month’s diary about accessibility and mobility coincides with the World Para Athletic Championships that will be held in London between 14 and 23 July, and Disability Awareness Day on 16 July which promotes a culture which focuses on what disabled people can do throughout life.

A few facts:

1 in 5 people have a disability
the most common impairment is mobility (57%)
mobility can be impacted by conditions such as spinal or neck disorders, neuromuscular disorders, arthritis, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis 
mobility impairments increase with age
the UK has an aging population

Because of the above, many of our employees will be impacted by mobility impairments and therefore we really need your help with an accessibility project which will help us to become a Disability Confident and inclusive employer. 

Below, one of our Health and Safety champions tells you more about that in his story. 

Individual Self-Told Story – Steve Pymn 

“I spent 25 years in the Royal Air Force before becoming a civil servant in Catering and eventually transferring to ISS Defence in 2011.

Having spent much of my life travelling the world by air and doing high risk activities like parachuting and scuba diving; I was travelling to work when a squirrel running into the road caused me to swerve my motorbike, I crashed and broke my fourth and fifth Thoracic vertebrae, spent 9 and half weeks lying on my back, then another 13 weeks in rehab becoming a paraplegic wheelchair user in my late forties.  

Returning to work was initially difficult because I had been a Head Chef prior to the accident and it wasn’t feasible for me to continue in that role but my employment contract said that I was “responsible for the production of good food” and I felt that there were lots of things that I could do to meet that requirement and remain in employment with the Ministry of Defence – I definitely had a ‘can do’ approach.  

I asked for Access to Work to become involved as they can provide grants towards special equipment and workplace adaptations and a new manager started who was not prepared to waste my years of experience, so walls were moved, an in-house accessible toilet created and double doors installed to enable me to access the building in order to deliver training, carry out food safety audits and completing various administration tasks and here I am many years later working a fulfilling job, albeit reduced to a four day week as I found five days too tiring.

mobility 1mobility 2

Of course, there have been some challenges. 

I had to fight for adaptations and adjustments in the beginning and certain things were initially overlooked. For example, being able to access the toilet is vital for someone with paraplegia as bladder or bowel infections can be fatal and there wasn’t a disabled toilet in my building but across the road, which was fine in the summer when all the doors were open, but in winter I would have to wait for someone to open the door for me until I was provided with a key. This isn’t just a bit annoying and embarrassing – it could be lethal. 

We’ve had electric doors fitted to my office and we have a key pad now so I don’t have to wheel around the Base collecting keys as is traditional which is really helpful but I have found a lack of disabled parking spaces when I have visited other locations for meetings so that shows that there is still work to do to make our workplaces truly accessible. 

I have recently been interviewed by Dr Adeniji of Middlesex University who has been commissioned by ISS to do a piece of research about workplace accessibility for mobility impaired employees which will lead to improvements in the company’s ability to conduct accessibility audits and do all that is reasonably possible to make or support the relevant adaptations and adjustments that may be needed.” 

Further Information

We need more volunteers who have a mobility impairment or who are aging to be interviewed for the research project, so if you or any of your team are willing please get in touch;

The confidential interview will last for around two hours and will potentially benefit so many current employees and future employees, so please get involved. 

Tickets for the World Para Athletics Championships start at £10 for adults and £5 for children and can be purchased here.

In a drive to #Fillthestadium Prince Harry, Patron of the Invictus Games said this week “Buy your tickets, get down there, bring your family and friends and come down and support. Be there with everybody else, creating that atmosphere that’s going to be a life-changing moment for the athletes”

It’s good to talk

If you wish to make any suggestions or comments about Dignity, Diversity and Inclusion in general or you would like to be involved in an inclusivity network in the future please contact

If anyone has any accessibility concerns, or if you need to talk about this with someone, just let us know.



June 2017

It is Carer’s Week between 12 and 18 June and whilst around 50 ISS employees are statistically likely to be living with dementia right now, many more will be impacted by it in the capacity of caring for a relative with the condition so I thought that this and sharing the stories of two of our Leaders would be a great place to start. 

Individual Self-Told Story #1 

“My mum Helen was born in 1927 and has always been a fiercely independent, remarkable woman. 

In the 1940’s mum moved from Lancashire to attend the University of London and went on to teach Classics (Latin and Ancient Greek) to Oxbridge level. She was a passenger on the first Swan Hellenic cruise to sail after the war, married in Vienna and was a single mother of two at a time when this was exceptional. Mum was an intrepid traveller who visited all 50 States in America and she also set up a children’s school in Zambia which of course she visited often. 

She is now 90 years of age, living in a residential home, physically well but frail and childlike and unable to communicate verbally. It took us a long time to realise that mum had dementia; she had a couple of falls which isn’t unusual for someone of her age and we would receive the odd call of concern from a neighbour but it wasn’t until a fraudster painted the outside of her house in horrendous pink bathroom emulsion and the bank manager called to say that she was withdrawing large sums of money 3-4 times a week that we knew that there was something seriously wrong. 

She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she was 86 years old and social services provided equipment and changes to her home and her routine care for a time whilst we took over things like her food shopping, her finances and learning a new language which included jargon such as ‘best interest decisions’. We were advised against moving her closer to us because familiarity with surroundings can be really important when someone is losing their memory.  

I have learnt that if the onset of the condition has been gradual then the progression probably will be too, so mum’s care was always likely to be a long-term challenge. 

When social services funding stopped, we wanted to honour mum’s wishes and lifelong independence so we funded Age UK carers to continue with her home care for as long as we could keep her safe which was around 18 months and we then took the difficult decision to place her into a residential home which would provide the 24/7 care and companionship that she needed. 

The family visit mum regularly and she is different every time. She seems to know who we are and is pleased to see us but she has good days and bad as you might expect. Dementia is such as sad illness because the people that you love become someone else and almost hollow. I don’t know how much of her incredible life she remembers or whether it would help of hinder her if I talked to her about it because she can’t tell me.“

What is Dementia? 

Dementia is a collection of related symptoms that are caused by damage to the brain. It is a progressive condition, which means it will get worse over time and symptoms will change and become more severe.

There are many types of dementia which will affect people differently but common symptoms include:

• Memory loss – especially for recent events, routes or names 
• Increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require organisation and planning 
• Becoming confused in unfamiliar environments 
• Difficulty finding the right words which can progress to speaking less or not at all
• Difficulty with numbers and/or handling money 
• Changes in personality, mood and appetite
• Depression 
• Changes in behaviour – for example, becoming less sensitive to other people’s emotions losing inhibitions, behaving out of character and making tactless or inappropriate comments

Although there is currently no cure for dementia, some types of medication can help to alleviate symptoms or slow the progression.  

Why is Dementia a Dignity, Diversity and Inclusion issue? 

Dementia impacts on three specific characteristics that are protected by the Equality Act 2010 which are: 

Age – The risk of developing dementia increases as you get older, the condition usually occurs in people over the age of 65, the working population in the UK is ageing.

Sex – Over 61% of people living with dementia in the UK are women, women form the majority of unpaid carers.

Disability – because dementia is a progressive condition it is subject to special provisions in the Equality Act 2010 which means that managers must consider if reasonable adjustments can be made to facilitate the employees’ continued working life and to make sure that the employee is protected from discrimination and harassment.
A Dementia Friendly Organisation  

Ultimately it is the right thing to do to support members of our team who are impacted by dementia and keep them included in working life but given the profile of our workforce (over 60% of our people are in the likely age profile for living with or caring for a person with dementia and over 57% are women) if we don’t we will find it increasingly difficult to motivate, retain or attract engaged and qualified employees.   We need to maintain the rich variety of our workforce to reflect our customers’ needs and to drive improvements in creativity, productivity and profitability which diverse teams have been proven to do.   

What should a manager do if they notice a symptomatic change in an employees’ behaviour?

The average length of service of an employee with a dementia diagnosis is nine years so you might notice some of the common symptoms along with increased sickness and absence levels, lateness, reduced performance or capability of a loyal, long-serving colleague.  If you do:

• Review the relevant policies and guidelines including the current Dignity, Diversity and Inclusion policy and the Absence, Disability, Flexible Working and Performance Management guidelines which are coming very soon 
• Take advice from your People and Culture manager 
• Arrange a meeting to express your concerns in an open, honest and supportive way giving clear examples of how behaviour or performance has changed and explore the possible reasons for these 
• Be patient - people who are at the early onset of dementia may be reluctant to consider the possibility of dementia and put it down to getting older or being forgetful. 
• Signpost the employee to primary care and external resources and encourage them to seek support and information but remember that they may not yet be ready 
• Be patient and supportive – diagnosis can take time, the diagnosis is life changing and you will need to regularly monitor and meet with the employee
• Allow / encourage the employee to bring a family member with them to meetings 
• Get Occupational Health advice about adjustments and make them wherever you possibly can (see below)
• Safety is paramount so involve your Health, Safety and Environmental manager

What reasonable adjustments might be appropriate?  

Suitable steps will differ from person to person and can only be implemented with their consent but the following might be helpful: 

• Allocate a buddy who has a good understanding of the role – for example two cleaners working on separate floors could be buddied to work together on the same floor and share tasks ensuring that there is someone to prompt and support where needed
• Give extra supervision to provide extra support to the individual and tea
• Provide additional equipment which gives prompts and reminders, additional signage and step by step task lists. Funding may be available from the government Access to Work scheme
• Reallocate or remove certain tasks – for example an employee might feel concerned about conducting presentations in case they begin to struggle with words and  it may be relatively easy to remove this task from them 
• Offer to relocate them to an alternative site – for example if they are moving to live with a family member or if there is a site nearby with a larger team

Individual Self-Told Story #2

“I am a manager working for ISS and around two years ago it was brought to my attention that one of the porters (who I will call Piotr) who had worked at our busy hospital for over ten years had collected the wrong patient from a ward. Initially we thought that this was just a mistake because two patients had similar names but when this incident was quite quickly followed by a similar error which Piotr couldn’t explain we began to notice that he often seemed confused, struggled with ad hoc requests and sometimes did not know where he was in the hospital.  

When we spoke to Piotr and obtained a doctor’s report it became clear that Piotr had been diagnosed with dementia and with the help of the People and Culture team we obtained an occupational health report to assist us in helping Piotr. We also had regular contact with Piotr’s wife who wanted him to continue to work for as long as possible and Piotr attended a dementia course for coping mechanisms and to try and help him with his anger and frustration. 

We altered the way in which we worked so that the Chargehand porter wrote down tasks when they came through and pass them on to Piotr, we gave him a notepad and pen to write his jobs down, kept his daily tasks as simple as possible and scheduled him to work permanently on the day shift so there would more people around to help him and we could monitor how things were. I would estimate that because we did these things Piotr was able to continue working for 12 months longer than if we had done nothing although sadly he became too confused to continue working safely after about a year. 

As a result of working with Piotr I have a greater awareness and confidence in dealing with dementia and would probably recognise the signs earlier. The advice that I would give to other managers in a similar situation is to seek advice from the People and Culture team, speak to the employee first for information, speak to the employee’s family members with the employee present but also be prepared to talk to them privately too, gain medical evidence and contact a charity for advice and guidance.”

What should a manager do if their employee cares for a person living with dementia? 

• Review the relevant policies and guidelines and take advice 
• Do what you can to be flexible, patient and understanding
• If you can allow the employee to work flexibly or in a different way, do so. For example, many people living with dementia have disturbed sleep patterns so allowing the carer to have a later start time could really help them 
• Signpost the employee to the resources below 
• Remember that providing an inclusive environment increases loyalty, engagement and motivation

What can an individual do to reduce the personal risk of dementia?
We cannot rule out the risk of developing a dementia entirely, but adopting a healthy lifestyle which includes giving up smoking, eating a healthy diet (Mediterranean diets in particular have been shown to help), regular exercise, reducing alcohol intake, keeping socially active, reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure will help to mitigate some of the risk

Further information 

If you are affected by dementia and wish to speak confidentially to someone, please contact the People and Culture team.

• The following websites also contain invaluable information and support: 

• The National Dementia Helpline number is 0300 222 11 22.

It’s good to talk

If you wish to make any suggestions or comments about Dignity, Diversity and Inclusion in general or you would like to be involved in an inclusivity network in the future please contact

My final thoughts are to the carers, the people who work amongst us, caring for their loved ones in what are sometimes the saddest situations. If you need to talk about this with someone, just let us know.



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ISS employees in the new uniform
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