Leading as a Company of Belonging

The demographics of the workplace are quickly skewing younger, more diverse and more socially conscious. The companies that will have a massive edge in the talent acquisition and retention race will be global companies of belonging that can most closely walk the D&I talk.


If there is one thing that we can glean from the last several years it is that the world is changing rapidly, and the corporate world needs to change along with it. Most employers around the world are undoubtedly already aware that Millennials and Gen Z are playing an entirely different game compared to their Baby Boomers and Gen X counterparts. They are far more likely to avoid applying to or outright quit companies that are not aligned directly with their moral code and emotional needs. This shift can and will mean that organizations that are slow to embrace change will be facing an acute long-term talent shortage as older generations retire.

Inclusive companies have a talent attraction and retention advantage

It is our ambition to become the company of belonging and with a more than 120-year-old legacy as a people company, social sustainability has always been in our DNA. Beyond that, however, it is very clear that being a company of belonging is excellent advice to companies looking to become a talent-attraction and retention powerhouse. According to research, the LGBTQIA+ community will represent nearly 25% of the workforce in the future and inclusive companies will have a distinct advantage in recruiting LGBTQ+ talent – the talent pool for inclusive companies is almost double that of companies lacking inclusivity. This, naturally, makes it quite clear that companies that already recognize the need to be more inclusive and accommodating to diverse sexual orientations and gender identities will have a distinct advantage in recruiting that talent.

The changing LGBTQIA+ talent landscape

The overall LGBTQIA+ landscape is undergoing significant changes, meaning that companies will need to lean into their inclusivity initiatives that much more to keep pace. More and more we are seeing that sexuality and identity is a spectrum rather than a series of hard categorizations. This is clear in how younger generations are choosing to self-identify. The bisexual community, for example, is experiencing the most rapid growth along the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, becoming the majority from 22% to 57% among younger generations. The “Other” group, which includes non-binary, genderfluid, asexual, and pansexual individuals, is the second most rapidly growing segment, increasing from 3% to 23% among Gen Z and Millennials. Conversely, the percentage of individuals that identify as simply gay has decreased from 62% to 8% in these younger generations. It is evident that LGBTQ+ encompasses a wide range of identities, and the future is becoming increasingly diverse.

Being a company of belonging

We recognize that ISS possesses the ability to make a difference in promoting LGBTQIA+ inclusivity. At present, ISS has over 350,000 employees worldwide. Every year we hire people of more than 200 different nationalities, in many cases helping to lift them out of poverty and provide them with their first real job. This includes significant support for groups who often struggle to find regular employment, such as people with disabilities or refugees. This broad presence allows ISS to have a substantial impact on fostering diversity and inclusivity, but that doesn’t mean other companies can’t take the same approach.

ISS demonstrates its support for the LGBTQIA+ agenda through various initiatives, ones that we hope are mirrored by other organizations around the world:

  • Pride Employee Resource Group: Operating globally and staffed entirely by dedicated volunteers with full support from ISS, the employee resource group plans and executes numerous inclusivity projects worldwide. This includes Pride awareness campaigns on a global scale each year, a wide variety of inclusivity-focused webinars and more hands-on projects like this year’s collaborative artwork which gave those without laptop access the chance to share their opinions on LGBTQIA+ topics worldwide. Most recently, ISS signed Workplace Pride’s Declaration of Amsterdam where we formalized our commitment and approach to becoming an inclusive company of belonging.
  • Executive Sponsors Group: A group of LGBTQIA+ allies at the highest level of the organization, dedicated to lending their support to creating a more inclusive workplace.
  • LGBTQIA+ Embassies: ISS locations are all designated as LGBTQIA+ embassies, even in countries with less inclusive laws around the community, to provide all employees with a safe space to be themselves.
  • Mandatory LGBTQIA+ Training: Currently being planned, LGBTQIA+ and inclusivity training will join the roster of the mandatory training curriculum.

These initiatives are part of our overarching goal to create an inclusive environment, one in which everyone can feel safe and valued for who they are, no matter their age, gender, socio-economic or cultural background, ethnicity, physical or mental health or sexual orientation. We encourage all other companies to do the same.