International Women’s Day 2023: How We Embrace Equity at Sodexo

Published on : 3/8/23
  • At Sodexo, when we celebrate International Women’s Day, we do so in the context of a company culture that goes beyond a single day of recognition.

    The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Embracing Equity’ and gives organizations such as ours a chance to reflect on our journey, the progress we’ve made and our vision for the future.
    According to Forbes, whilst women make up 47% of the workforce, they only make up 28% of professional leadership positions. At Sodexo MEA, we are very proud to buck this trend - women make up 40% of our senior leadership team. We are also pleased to have eliminated the gender pay gap within our regional operations. We recognize that whilst this is good progress, there is still a long way to go until we reach our equity goals.

    Small steps to an equitable workplace

    We know by embracing equity throughout our business, we create better outcomes for everyone. This view is backed up by decades of research and we are absolutely committed to this principle.
    That’s why we create and champion initiatives throughout our organisation that actively promote our principles of equity and which aim to level the playing field in our organisation. We are working towards making sure that for all employees, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race, religion, ethnicity and disability, working with Sodexo is more than a job, it’s a chance to become part of something greater.
    Some of the initiatives we have brought on board to help us hit our equity and diversity goals are explained below:

    She Works


    One of the ways Sodexo MEA actively contributes towards gender equity in our teams is through our SheWorks initiative. SheWorks is a programme that empowers women from the wider communities in which we work with the chance of work experience and mentorship in any area of our business that they choose. Selected participants are guided through a personalised work shadowing programme where they get to experience first-hand what working in different areas of the business is like. They are also introduced to a mentor who has already progressed down that career path and can provide guidance, background knowledge and invaluable insight into life in that role. To date around 1000 women across the business have taken part in the programme and we’ve seen increased job mobility for women as a result.

    So Together

    Another of Sodexo’s initiatives that aim to promote gender equity within our business is the So Together programme; a global advisory board made up of 60 individuals from all areas and levels within the global Sodexo organisation whose role is to:

    1. To lead and drive the organization’s gender equality strategy.
    2. To enlist highly influential individuals onto the board who could effectively champion its work in their region and influence local leadership and cascade actions
    3. To make high-potential women visible across the global organization, something which had already been shown to be instrumental in helping them progress.

    This body is supported and informed by a network of 23 Gender Network Groups which are set up to cover 46 countries and exist to foster an inclusive culture across the organisation and to encourage and allow everyone to reach their full potential by providing the means to allow both men and women to thrive at every step of their career.

    Unconscious Bias Training


    Even the most forward-thinking manager can sometimes unwittingly allow bias to affect their decision-making. These unintentional influences can have a negative effect on certain groups when it comes to hiring, promotions and disciplinary processes. That’s why at Sodexo Middle East we ensure that all HR staff and all people managers go through unconscious bias training. We believe that by making our teams aware of what unconscious bias is, how to detect it in their own decision-making, and the potential dangers, we can reduce or eliminate the negative effects it can have on the organization. When everyone in a team is aware of the challenges facing others, they can work towards closing gaps in their behaviour and communication. Providing comprehensive and regular training is a great way to get the ball rolling,

    Spirit of Inclusion

    All employees participate in a one-day training programme entitled ‘The Spirit Of Inclusion’ designed to heighten awareness, build skills and provide tools for operating within a diverse workforce. During the programme, they are informed about the company’s policies on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and receive guidance on how to develop an inclusive mindset and how to address any issues that may arise during their working day.

    Speak Up

    One of the cornerstones of an effective policy of gender equity and inclusion is a workable process to flag up and follow up on instances where best practices may not have been followed. Speak up is a platform where any employee, contractor, or anyone with a working relationship with Sodexo can report their concerns confidentially. Concerns can be logged 24/7, in any language and via several different platforms and the user can be confident that any concerns raised will be taken seriously and looked into.

    The Importance of Allies

    At Sodexo, we all play a part in creating a more inclusive organisation. IWD and our internal projects and initiatives are not occasions where the men stand in the background whilst women celebrate their achievements and promote their interests, they are a chance for everyone to step forward and work collectively towards a goal that creates better results for everyone. All of our employees have a role to play and strong allies are incredibly important as we move forward as one for the social, economic, cultural, and political advancement of women and society as a whole.

    Not Just One Day


    We celebrate IWD and other celebrations of diversity wholeheartedly because it's a great way to increase awareness and because every chance to celebrate as a team is an opportunity we believe we should take.

    But it’s not about just one day. For us, it’s about creating a robust culture that celebrates our people for who they are whilst reaching every operation and every member of our team.

    At Sodexo, our teams are encouraged to #embraceequity so that we can all enjoy the immense benefits that it can bring.

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