Spirit of inclusion starts at the top
By Johnpaul Dimech, Regional Chairman, Asia Pacific, Sodexo
Some companies direct their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts to environmental sustainability, while others give back significantly to charity, promote social change or champion ethical choices. Some companies are fortunate to have the capacity to direct global change by focusing their efforts across all agendas including social, ethical, environmental and sustainable.
Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 corporate responsibility plan acts as roadmap that directs the company to implement and monitor change for all change agendas both at a national and global level.
Our Better Tomorrow 2025 plan encompasses a wide range of prominent local and global social and environmental issues facing our world today and while there are three issues we feel we have a really important role to play; fighting hunger and malnutrition, working for gender equality, and reducing waste, we are proud to say our Better Tomorrow 2025 commitment covers all aspects of our business including continued indigenous engagement and being an advocate for mental health.
By focusing our corporate responsibility efforts on key areas, we are able to greatly impact our immediate environment and wider global network to promote change and ultimately, create a better tomorrow.
Along with being an advocate for hunger, waste and mental health, from day one at Sodexo, it has been my mission to also advocate for gender equality in the workplace, leading the corporate industry through change and setting a benchmark that other brands can aspire to achieve.
As a global company that operates in 80 countries with 450,000 employees, we know that the only way we can achieve change with gender diversity is to invest in our people and create an inclusive environment that allows them to remove their unconscious biases.
Gender diversity is about confidence building, finding role models and organisations making a commitment to change and being committed to the cause and not just about the statistics.
Having a diversity score on gender is a point in time but if you don’t have an inclusive culture, you will not retain the female talent and grow them into senor leadership roles. Companies have to find a way of creating a pipeline that encourages women to stay and grow their careers in the organisaiton.
With 50 percent of our Australian workforce and 40 percent of our Australian management team are women, we can firmly attest to the programs in place that make our vision for gender equality and parity at Sodexo a reality.
Two programs we implement to advance gender diversity at Sodexo is Spirit of Inclusion and SWIFt (Sodexo Women’s International Forum for Talent).
Spirit of Inclusion
One part of the Spirit of Inclusion program is our investment in enabling employees, both male and female, to take a day out for inclusion and diversity training. The training day focuses on understanding unconscious biases and enhancing awareness and skills to positively impact behaviour and share the company’s culture.
The overwhelmingly positive feedback we receive after employees attend this training is encouraging.
This year, Sodexo Australia aims to put all of its employees through its Spirit of Inclusion program, which was introduced in Australia six months ago. We utilise our own internal resources and bring in external consultants for a full-day, in-person, mandatory program for all managers and salaried employees.
SWIFt (Sodexo Women’s International Forum for Talent)
We also have a global program in place that works towards women’s advancement and provides exclusive mentorship for its participants.
The SWIFt program comprises of 34 male and female global senior managers who lead Sodexo’s gender diversity strategy by providing strategic input and recommendations in gender diversity and inclusion, and by identifying impactful actions to address gaps.
The program has helped increase women’s representation in senior leaders to 33 percent. To hold our senior executives accountable, we have also linked KPI targets to 10 percent annual incentives.
I’m proud to announce that five Australian women have been nominated to join the 2018 SWIFt cohort.
It’s important we remember that gender equality is equally about men as it is about women. We are an inclusive company and recognise the importance men play in promoting gender diversity in the workplace.
We’re not one dimensional at Sodexo and also promote gender diversity in the community through programs including our Supply Chain Inclusion program which leverages best practices from Sodexo operations around the world in support of a commitment that all countries will develop strong and sustainable relationships with women owned and operated small business enterprises.
In 2013, Sodexo announced its Supply Chain Inclusion program, which aims to increase the number of locally-owned small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from which Sodexo purchases goods and services. The goal of the program is to source US one billion dollars in goods and services from 5,000 local SMEs by 2020.
These programs make Sodexo a leader in gender equality and we encourage other companies to introduce similar development and inclusion initiatives in their own workplace.
Our company itself develops, manages and delivers a diverse range of facilities management, commercial cleaning and asset maintenance services, but it’s what goes on behind the scenes for our employees that drives our business model.
As a global organisation, we understand the role we play in leading other companies, both large and small, to contribute to social, environmental and economic change through their corporate responsibility efforts.
I would urge more businesses to consider gender equality as a key aspect in their CSR position.