Canadian businesses need to do more to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered employees feel welcome and valued in the workplace according to the newly released Sodexo Workplace Diversity Survey, a Leger poll of employed Canadians. We invite you to meet the survey's spokespeople: Sue Black and Normand St-Gelais.
Sue Black is currently Group Vice President, Global Transformation at Sodexo based in Toronto and Paris. Black and her team are tasked with accelerating the continued transformation of Sodexo as a global leader in Quality of Life services and helping teach best practices all over the world while focusing on the HR practices within her organization.
Sue’s HR career started by accident in Australia in the late 1990s. She was looking for a job in environmental management, something she had studied and was quite passionate about. While searching for work, she ended up taking a job with Sodexo at one of its Melbourne client sites doing food prep with 30 others for a group of over 3000 people.
Black’s abilities were quickly noticed and she was offered entrance into the company’s management training program. That led to Sue’s ascendancy to a role in operational management for a number of sites in Melbourne covering off food services and facilities management. Sodexo manages many services that provide a quality organizational environment, including air conditioning, site maintenance, lighting, security and cleaning.
After working in management for a few years, Sue went into a new role training employees in health, safety and environmental topics. “The company asked me to put together a new focus on environmental management systems focused on safety, environment and quality,” says Black. Sue then helped create, train and implement the systems across Australia and New Zealand, and then share the best practices in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong.
By the early 2000s Sue had changed gears and was covering a team member who was on maternity leave in human resources and really enjoying the HR discipline.
“Sodexo encourages people to try different things,” says Black. “They offered for me to go back to school, and paid me as I earned my post graduate qualifications.”
Sodexo also helped Sue stretch herself by putting her on the company’s Global diversity and inclusion (D&I) task force, and it’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) taskforce.
Sue is a passionate diversity and inclusion advocate and as a woman with a same-sex partner, she was thrilled when she embarked upon her next move in the company -- all the way across the globe for a job as Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Sodexo Canada.
“At the time, I had a same sex partner of 10 years,” says Black. “I wasn’t officially ‘out’ at work even though many colleagues were aware of it. I said to myself and my partner that if we move, and I take this job as an executive, and as a leader, it was different. I had to be out.”
Sue was having lunch with Dean Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sodexo Canada when the issue arose. Her credentials were fine, everything was in order and Dean asked about her family situation and the challenge of moving family members. Sue then told him she had a same sex partner, and he looked up from his plate, and said “that’s great, do you have kids and how does your partner feel about moving?”
The exchange was refreshing for Black. “His straightforward response was just a reaffirmation that I was with a company, and in this instance a leader (Johnson) that took diversity and inclusion very seriously.”
After her stint in Canada, Sue was nominated to her present role, Group Vice President, Global Transformation at Sodexo. She now operates as a strategic human resources leader and change management business partner working with a select global team.
In this capacity, Sue sees the role of HR as being focused on two areas: the short-term aspect of delivering on operational business needs, workforce planning, skill fulfillment and the long-term aspect of retaining talent and investing in Sodexo’s people for the future.
Her globe-trotting journey from wide-eyed prep cook to Global HR leader is a demonstration of her qualities of passion and ambition as well as a testament to Sodexo as a company where people can grow, take chances and bring their whole self to work.
Natural leader and team builder, Normand St-Gelais has a passion for motivating people into giving their best. He has been employed by Sodexo for the past 23 year and now acts as Director of Talent Acquisition, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, where he is mainly responsible for recruiting people in managerial positions.
Over the years, Normand developed and lead Sodexo’s Canadian Mentoring program and the Canadian Rising Star program. He founded and co-lead the Sodexo Pride Canada Employee Business resource group and co-lead the Global Sodexo Pride Worldwide Employee Business Resource group. He is also a member of Sodexo’s Women Business Resource Group and the Aboriginal Employee Business Resource Group.
Openly gay, Normand has always been on the lookout for the best practices in the area of diversity and inclusion as he strongly feels that organisations that take the time to think about these important issues are more successful than others.
Normand is in charge of the activities related to the five priority groups identified by Sodexo in the area of diversity and inclusion: women, intergeneration, people with disabilities, employees with diverse ethnic origins and employees with other sexual orientation. He recently played a leading role in the creation of the Sodexo Council for Diversity and Inclusion in order to look at the best practices put in place in other countries to better orient Sodexo Canada in developing its own policies.
“Even if these initiatives are at the infancy phase, we are already seeing an overall improvement in employee retention and satisfaction. It also significantly helps me in my objective to recruit the best candidates for the organisation,” states Normand St-Gelais.
Dedicated employee who inspires people around him, he was recognised in 2009 when he received the Sodexo Canada Silver Award for Spirit of Progress. He then received the 2010 Sodexo North America Platinum Award for Spirit of Progress and the 2011 Sodexo Canada Gold Award for Team Spirit.
Normand is also the Quebec Co-chair for Pride at Work Canada and is a member of the Chambre de commerce gaie du Québec.
Sodexo promotes an inclusive environment for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) employees.
Sodexo is committed to providing a diverse and inclusive work environment and has received widespread recognition for its leadership in this area. This stems from our understanding that being a dynamic company requires people with rich backgrounds and diverse perspectives. Diversity and inclusion is more than a moral obligation or a social goal; it is a conscientious imperative that drives our ability to attract and develop the best talent, create an engaged workforce and deliver quality of life solutions to our diverse clients and customers.
Sodexo’s PRIDE Mission is to champion an environment of acceptance and workplace equality for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and ally team members through employee engagement, community involvement, education and awareness. We’ve partnered with Pride at Work Canada to further solidify our commitment to our GLBTA community members.
Sodexo Workplace Diversity Survey
Half of Canadians think their own employer should do more to ensure that LGBT employees feel comfortable in the workplace