Maria Bøge

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Maria Bøge

Maria Bøge is project manager at the Center for Diversity in ISS, Denmark's largest Facility Service business. ISS provides integrated service solutions based on core areas: cleaning, catering, office support, property services and security

Maria is actually one of the major drivers of the ISS strategy on diversity, and her work is to develop initiatives, policies and training activities designed to strengthen it in this private company. Of the 11,000 employees ISS has in Denmark 60% are women and 40% men. Overall at ISS you find people with all types of training, ranging from unskilled to employees with short, medium and higher education. More than 4,000 of those employees are people with ethnic minority backgrounds or new Danes.

"Working in a diverse business does not mean that managers and employees are necessarily aware of the role play by diversity in business. Working with Diversity is exciting, but it also requires focused, hard work to get a large organization aligned to think how to make the best out of diversity", says Maria.

One of the initiatives that Maria is behind, is a apprenticeship pathways for employees who have potential to become leaders. The aim of the initiative is that 300 out of 1,000 company managers must be new Danes in 2011. When the first apprenticeship course started up in 2008 ISS had 93 new Danes in management. Today the figure rose to 171 and it indicates that ISS is halfway towards the target.

"If you want to create a culture where diversity is seen and used as a resource, it is not enough to put a single initiative underway. There must be many different initiatives under way at the same time. And of course you have to keep diversity as part of the daily business agenda", says Maria.

In May 2009 ISS received the Integration Award from Århus Municipality in recognition of the company's efforts to recruit and integrate new Danes in the labour market.

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