Diversity & Inclusion

We invite you to explore some of our diversity & inclusion initiatives at Sodexo.

An Eastern Asian fusion flare for Canada’s West

An Eastern Asian fusion flare for Canada’s West

Wonton soup, fried rice, and fortune cookies may not sound like hospital food, but it is for six of Sodexo’s long-term care facilities with large Asian populations across British Columbia. These facilities, which serve over a thousand residents a day, have an average Asian population of over 47%. For some residences, that number jumps to over 90%.

Dishes are freshly prepared by Sodexo’s Asian staff with recipes from the residents themselves. Menu options include: dumplings, dim sum, various soups, hoisin pork, orange ginger chicken, and much more. 

Tiffany Yeung, District Manager of BC Health Authorities for Sodexo states that catering to their residents in a culturally specific way allows Sodexo to meet the needs of our clients. She states “the residents at these locations are a unique population and they have specific ways of celebrating their culture. Their quality of life is greatly impacted by food and we want to make them feel like they are home”.

During special events like Chinese New Year, Sodexo also encourages the residents to invite their friends and family to come in and enjoy a traditional Asian meal. It is through these celebrations and by serving the residents in a way that is specific to their culture that Sodexo is able meet their customer’s quality of life needs.

The return on disability

The return on disability

11% of working-age Canadians have a disability, and over half of them are unemployed according to a Statistics Canada report (2011). In most cases, it is not because they don’t want to work, or can’t. Instead, it is because employers will not hire them based on common false assumptions about employees with disabilities, including: decreased productivity, high rates of absence, and a significant need for special accommodation due to physical limitations.

Sean Callaghan, the manager at Sodexo’s Loblaw’s location in Toronto, shows hiring workers with disabilities isn’t just a nice thing to do; it is also the right thing to do for a business. Callaghan, who is also vice-chair of Sodexo’s employee business resource group ADEPT (All Disabled Employees Possess Talent), has employed several people with disabilities. In fact, 20% of his team are people with a disability. Although most people only recognize physical disabilities, Callaghan hires people with all types of disabilities, including: the hearing impaired and people with Autism and Asperger syndrome.

Callaghan states that since hiring workers with disabilities there has been both cultural and economic improvements. He states, “many of my past and current employees have disabilities…they are reliable, willing to work, have fewer accidents, and their productivity is equal or even better than non-disabled workers.” Callaghan also states that his disabled employees have great attitudes, which have contributed to an improvement in his team’s morale and engagement.

With Callaghan’s assistance, ADEPT will be working with Dr. Catherine Connelly, a McMaster University researcher, in developing a case study that is specific to Sodexo Canada. Dr. Connelly will look at various units at Sodexo and she will compare the numbers on turnover, attendance, accidents, and costs associated with hiring employees with a disability versus non-disabled employees. The study’s results will be used to support Sodexo’s business case for employing talented people with disabilities.

NAAC’s first Canadian local chapter at Keeyask in Northern Manitoba

NAAC’s first Canadian local chapter at Keeyask in Northern Manitoba

Sodexo takes pride in promoting diversity and inclusion through numerous initiatives. One of these initiatives is the employee networking group NAAC (Native American Aboriginal Council). The purpose of NAAC is to provide a support group to our aboriginal and non-aboriginal employees that will help them deepen the understanding of each other’s cultures and values.

In December 2014, Sodexo’s Keeyask unit formed NAAC’s first chapter. This Hydro Manitoba worksite is known for its strong partnerships with First Nations communities and aboriginal employment.

Joanne Neddo, District Manager of remote sites, says that NAAC is a way for employees to understand each other’s diversities and learn how to work with one another. She states, “About 82 per cent of our workers are aboriginal so it is important to come together to promote their heritage.”

This NAAC chapter is planning to hold a Pow-Wow on National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2015 to kick off the chapter. A Pow-Wow is a celebration of Aboriginal culture through traditional dancing and singing. Neddo says that it closely represents what NAAC is about because it is a way to celebrate and respect aboriginal heritage.

Survey finds Canadians want more LGBT inclusiveness in the workplace

Sodexo’s Workplace Diversity Survey found that the majority of employed Canadians strongly believe there are numerous benefits to workplace diversity, such as: attracting and retaining employees, a positive work environment and the overall success of the company. Moreover, 89 per cent of Canadians believe it is important for companies to welcome and value LGBT employees regardless of their sexual orientation.

Yet, in spite of the benefits and importance of workplace diversity and LGBT inclusion, the survey found 67 per cent of Canadians think Canadian businesses should do more to ensure LGBT employees feel comfortable in the workplace. This number considerably increases to 81 per cent when the same question was asked to LGBT employees.

Michael Bach, Founder and CEO of the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion, says that these numbers demonstrate that action needs to be taken in the workplace. He states, “These numbers flag the need for more action to create inclusiveness across the country. The fact that LGBT employees are more skeptical strongly suggestion there is still considerable room for improvement.”

LGBT Survey Graph

As part of our commitment to LGBT inclusion in the workplace, Sodexo’s PRIDE Employee Business Resource Group (EBRG) will be once again promoting a campaign in May in support of International Day Against Homophobia. The Sodexo Straight Allies campaign will promote our employees who are straight allies and will encourage other employees to become allies.

Sodexo’s PRIDE EBRG welcomes all LGBT employees and their allies to share experiences, receive support and promote a “bring your whole self to work” environment.

The many benefits of mature workers

The many benefits of mature workers

At Sodexo, a third of our workers are over 50 and we know that they are an asset to our company because they bring many benefits that contribute to our current and future success. According to Katherine Power, Vice President of Communications and Executive Sponsor for Diversity & Inclusion at Sodexo, “mature workers bring a lot of benefits to Sodexo.not only are they more engaged than other workers, they stay longer, and they bring a wealth of experience that is really invaluable to the company”.

Sodexo is proud to have been recognized as a top employer for mature workers. We have several initiatives to show our commitment to our employees, including our mentorship program where we see a lot of knowledge sharing between generations. Another is the employee networking group SAGE (Sharing Across Generations). SAGE's mission is to increase employee engagement and organizational effectiveness by promoting the awareness and understanding of all generations in the workplace.

Brian Kimmett, Vice President of Healthcare, is in his 29th year working at Sodexo. He says he has been given the opportunity to continually grow with the company. He also believes that mature workers deliver a sense of leadership and experience, to not only the organization, but to younger workers. Kimmett states, “I was 'taken under the wing' of a gentleman I worked for.his experience and leadership are characteristics I try to replicate today, as I know how important his mentorship was to me early in my career.”

Mature workers are an important aspect of Sodexo's strategy and performance. We know that because of their experience, engagement, leadership and countless other benefits, our company is led in the right direction. Through our various programs and company initiatives, Sodexo is committed to creating a multi-generational workplace. 

According to Sophie Bellon gender balance is the future of management

According to Sophie Bellon gender balance is the future of management

Sodexo has long placed gender balance at the heart of our strategy, and just like many international studies have demonstrated, Sodexo knows that there is a link between gender balance and social and economic performance. Michel Landel, CEO of Sodexo states, “By tapping into the full potential of both genders, Sodexo will be more innovative, stronger and a better performer.”

At Sodexo, women represent 54 per cent of the total workforce and 37 per cent of management positions. As part our global strategy to gender balance and progression toward equality in management positions, we have put a woman at the forefront of Sodexo. Sophie Bellon, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, was appointed to succeed her father and founder, Pierre Bellon in January 2016. Sophie Bellon joined Sodexo in 1994 and has since served in numerous finance and strategic counsel positions. Through these roles she was instrumental in developing the Sodexo Quality of Life brand and she participated in the company’s global expansion. She claims leadership roles for women are attainable and increasing.

“I want to tell the women of today that leadership jobs are within their reach, and tell the corporations of today that gender diversity is more than just a source of creativity and balance, it’s the future of management.”

Sophie Bellon is also co-chair of SWIFt (Sodexo Women’s International Forum for Talent), an initiative that aims to increase the representation of women in operational positions. Since its establishment in 2009, women in the Top 300 executive positions at Sodexo have increased from 16 per cent to 23 per cent. This is well on the way to our goal being 25 per cent by the end of the year.

Factors Driving Performance
A company with a balance of women and men in senior leadership positions and on the board is more likely to:

  1. Signal strong performance

  2. Demonstrate a broader range of strong leadership skills

  3. Access a wider talent pool

  4. More effectively anticipate consumer preferences

  5. Become more innovative



In this infographic, diversity and inclusion initiatives don't just stop at recruitment. Consider diversity and inclusion practices throughout your business to ensure that your company walks the talk.