Journey of Inclusion

At Sodexo, diversity and inclusion is more than a moral obligation or a societal goal; it is a business imperative that differentiates us in a highly commoditized business. It drives ability to attract the best talent, create an engaged workforce, and deliver quality of life solutions to the 60 million customers we serve daily. Our 360,000 employees represent more than 128 nationalities and provide one of our greatest sources of innovation and progress

Our diversity and inclusion journey began in North America seven years ago with a strong and compelling business case that still drives our efforts today---that diversity and inclusion offers a competitive advantage and a business opportunity. The business case became the foundation for Sodexo’s Diversity Learning Strategy, which takes a sequential approach to on-going learning opportunities that facilitate full integration of diversity and inclusion into the company culture.A systematic approach to diversity and inclusion involves a top down, bottom up, middle out strategy. This began with gaining senior leadership commitment, developing robust metrics to track progress, and establishing accountability through an incentive compensation link. To ensure the long-term success, Sodexo’s senior leaders championed diversity and inclusion initiatives such as mentoring, employee network groups, and work-life balance.

OL’s (Sodexo Organization for Latinos) mission is to enhance the quality of life at Sodexo for Latinos by facilitating interaction and communication among members and with community organizations. SOL also wanted to promote external awareness of Sodexo with in the Latino Community. Currently the network group has over 400 members and 8 chapters around the country and is involved in many areas of community support. Through active engagement and participation by employee-members, SOL has achieved many milestones on behalf of Sodexo. Last year alone they launched a company-wide Hispanic Heritage Month awareness campaign featuring regional and national events, introduced a Peer2Peer mentoring program, partnered with the Hispanic College Fund to select scholarship recipients, and released an online networking tool for SOL members.

With the formation of employee network groups, there was greater focus on culture change and building awareness for diversity and inclusion. The organization also began to formally communicate our work both internally and externally with a Diversity and Inclusion Report. The annual report can be viewed at and captures our progress year over year. As Sodexo’s foundation became stronger, more emphasis was placed on skills building, talent management, and external relations. With that in mind Sodexo, instituted a mandatory day-long Spirit of Diversity class that educated every employee on Sodexo’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. In addition, managers engaged in learning labs designed to raise awareness and build skills around a particular dimension of diversity.

Sodexo also introduced Language Solutions, an initiative that provides language tools for all employees. The Sed de Saber program, which is based on the popular Leap Frog technology, is designed for Spanish speaking individuals who would like to learn English. Language Solutions also offers the program Spanish for Everyone which helps English speaking employees become proficient in conversational Spanish. In addition, translator guides as well as audio and video language programs are available through Sodexo University. Another key asset to ongoing learning is Sodexo’s Diversity Business and Leadership Summit, sponsored by the employee network groups and the Office of Diversity. This annual day-long conference offers opportunities for employees and clients to enhance leadership skills and expand their diversity competence. Sodexo also established relationships with community and non-profit organizations to encourage business development and more importantly, open up new opportunities for recruiting diverse talent. Our CommUNITYSodexo Newsletter is used as an ongoing communication tool to share news and updates with our external partners in a direct and timely manner.

By 2007, diversity and inclusion was incorporated into all business and human resource policies and processes. It was also embedded into marketing collateral, sales proposals, and operations. A diversity-specific advertising campaign was in place and the employee network groups were gaining strength in numbers and influence. The following year, Sodexo took diversity and inclusion to a new level. The success of diversity and inclusion in North America led to development of a global plan to deliver a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy to the entire organization. A Global Inclusion Task Force comprised of individuals with responsibility for diversity and inclusion in their country was convened to oversee progress. There is no question we have made tremendous strides and reached many milestones in our diversity and inclusion journey. Most notably, since our diversity and inclusion journey began we have seen double-digit growth rates for women and minorities. However, in essence, our journey has only just begun. There is much more work ahead of us but I am continually amazed by what can be achieved when people feel valued and empowered to focus on their strengths, honor their differences, and celebrate their contributions.

Dr. Rohini Anand is the Senior Vice President & Global Chief Diversity Officer, Sodexo.