Knowledge Center

Sodexo's initiative, Making Every Day Count: Driving Business Success Through the Employee Experience, is a systemic strategy to provide the tools, resources, and support necessary to ensure success of all employees, including women. The initiative focuses on Sodexo's more than 15,000 salaried employees working at 6,000 client sites and offices throughout the United States. It leverages a top-down, bottom-up, middle-out strategy to drive diversity and inclusion, inform diversity strategies, engage employees across levels and functions, and influence client employees. With a strategic focus on the business case and how diversity can drive employee engagement and business development, Sodexo's diversity efforts have developed from a compliance framework to a strategic business imperative embedded in the fabric of the culture.

The initiative leverages a host of professional development programs that present opportunities to share diversity lessons with staff and clients, provide training to different employee populations, and develop connections through strategic networking and robust mentoring. These programs are delivered through multiple channels, including eight employee network groups (ENGs) for diverse employees including women, African-Americans, and former military personnel. The ENGs serve as mechanisms to reach the geographically dispersed employee base and are crucial to the communication and development of diversity and inclusion programming; each ENG has its own individual development program designed to address relevant barriers. Sodexo's IMPACT mentoring program, which connects employees across client sites, has resulted in a demonstrable improvement in women's careers: 30 percent of women who participated in IMPACT received a promotion. The company assesses mentoring effectiveness by tracking return on investment and monitors ENG members' career progress through an innovative employee network commitment survey. Sodexo also prioritizes training and education, which includes numerous learning labs, workshops, and events throughout the country. Sodexo's progress has led many client organizations to seek its guidance and support in developing and implementing their diversity and inclusion strategies and initiatives.

Accountability for internal programs consists of complementary qualitative and quantitative components that ensure the progress of culture change within the organization. Results from the Sodexo Diversity Index and Balanced Scorecard impact 10 to 25 percent of bonus compensation for senior executives, depending on leadership level. In keeping with the organization's long-term focus, this incentive is paid regardless of the company's financial performance for the fiscal year. Additionally, CEO George Chavel chairs the Diversity Leadership Council and reports on diversity progress to an external diversity and inclusion Board of Advisors.

The strategic nature of this initiative has led to strong results. Overall, from 2003 to 2010, the number of women in leadership at Sodexo has increased by 74 percent. During that same time period, the number of women on the executive committee increased from three (18.8 percent) to five (20 percent). Women's share of positions in the executive pipeline increased from 23 percent to 33 percent, with racially/ethnically diverse women's share increasing from 6 percent to 9 percent. In addition, in 2010, engagement scores for women were at 71 percent, up 10 percent from 2006 and considered above the Aon Hewitt threshold for "best in class."