A Cleaner World. A Better Life.

A Cleaner World. A Better Life.

By Dr. Ilham Kadri, President, Diversey Care

The panel discussion at the first annual ISSA Hygieia Network Women's Forum, held in Las Vegas.

Dr. Ilham Kadri, President, Diversey Care

Dr. Ilham Kadri and Holly Borrego, ISSA Hygieia Network's 2015 Member of the Year

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Honoring and celebrating women in the cleaning industry, ISSA Hygieia Network @Sealed_Air http://3bl.me/3s6msk
Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 10:20am

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In my home country of Morocco, there is a saying, “Every woman has two exits: from your home, go to your husband’s home. The second exit is to the grave.”

My grandmother always encouraged me to “find the third exit.”

Yet historically, it has been challenging for women to find a third exit into the workforce, especially women in the cleaning industry. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), full-time female employees made just 79 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2014 and IWPR estimates that it will take until the year 2059 for women to reach equal pay.

More than 70 percent of cleaners around the world are women and 50 percent are illiterate or do not speak the native language of the country they are working in. Employers in the cleaning industry can help these female workers through access to education and training. That is why the ISSA Hygieia Network, which was created just one year ago, is so close to my heart and the hearts of other passionate industry leaders. This is the first global women’s association in the hygiene and cleaning industry and probably many other industries as well, that is focused on developing women at the bottom.  What do I mean by the bottom?  So many industries and organizations are focused on the glass ceiling and the advancement of women in leadership positions. However, we cannot continue to ignore those women who simply need basic professional and life skills to live a more complete existence and support themselves and their families.

Each year, ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America welcomes thousands of cleaning industry leaders and exhibitors from around the world. During last month’s show in Las Vegas, Diversey Care showcased a wide range of innovations, from infection prevention and dilution control and dispensing solutions to floor care tools and machines.

During the show, Diversey Care hosted a full house for an infection prevention session during which we discussed potential threats and prevention strategies. Later that day, the ISSA Hygieia Network hosted its first Women’s Forum and presented awards to the women, men and organizations demonstrating strong support of gender equality in the industry.

The Hygieia Network Women’s Forum brought together an impressive group of industry women to create a dialogue about gender equality challenges and successes. Joining the discussion was Nathalie Doobin, CEO of Harvard Services Group; Meredith Reuben, CEO of EBP Supply Solutions; Linda Silverman, President of Maintex; and Lydia Work, CEO of American Paper Converting Inc.

Following the Forum, the Network presented its first annual awards program to honor the achievements of the women, men and organizations demonstrating strong support of gender equality. Their work is inspiring and we hope that it will serve as an example to others in the hygiene and cleaning industry and beyond.  That night, and Hygieia’s first awards ceremony, was like the Oscars for the cleaning industry and one of the best nights of my life. You see, I am fortunate to have a career with a company that I love and in an industry that I am passionate about. However, it is personally important to me to make a difference in this world. Having the opportunity to impact the lives of women in the cleaning industry who may not have any other chance at a better life is indescribable. Not only are we innovating new solutions for infection prevention and improving hygiene in many communities around the world, but we are lifting workers in our industry up to a new level of success and confidence.  I think it’s safe to say we’ve laid the ground work for women to find that third exit, and sail through it with pride. 

This year’s categories and winners include:

Hygieia Member of the Year – Holly Borrego, Cleaning Services Director North America at ISS, was recognized for making an outstanding contribution to the cleaning industry through involvement in activities that promote inclusion and advancement for women.

Rising Star of the Year – Open to women aged 35 and under, this award was presented to Gabrielle Hansen,  Safety & Training Manager at Harvard Maintenance, for her dedication to helping industry women succeed.

Employer of the Year – Ursula Simacek, CEO of Simacek Gruppe, was honored for promoting women’s interests in her company and combating illiteracy through education programs in Austria.

Man of the Year – Jerome Peribere , CEO of Sealed Air corporation, was recognized for mentoring industry women, and for making the ISSA Hygieia Network possible with his first corporate donation.

Eidyia – Open to companies or individuals leading efforts to reduce illiteracy rates within the industry’s workforce, this award was presented to Mary Miller with Jancoa, for her “Dream Manager” Program.

Special Awards were also presented to Nathalie and Stan Doobin with Harvard Services Group for their support of gender equality working together in their companies.

I’d like to thank the members of the ISSA Hygieia Network for their dedication to making this group a reality. In addition to the women leaders who joined the Forum, we are also thrilled to count the following trailblazers as founding members: Marie-Paule Nowlis, VP of Guest Experience & Operations at Sofitel; John Garfinkel, Executive Director Emeritus of ISSA; Jill Kegler, General Manager of Kellermeyer-Nichols; and Holly Borrego. John received a special recognition from the council his support in launching the initiative.