George Chavel

George Chavel
President & CEO, Sodexo, Inc.

Headquarters: Gaithersburg, Maryland
Primary Business: Hospitality/food service/facilities management
Revenues: $8.5 billion
Employees: 118,300

Employee and Community Engagement is Key to D&I Success

Sodexo has deliberately and diligently undergone a cultural transformation, evolving into a recognized leader in diversity and inclusion. Organizationally, strong advocacy for employee development opportunities has helped company leaders stay focused on the philosophy that diversity and inclusion represents who we are as an organization. I believe diverse employees are a strategic asset for Sodexo, clients, and customers, bringing unique perspectives and broad experience to problem solving and service delivery.

At a macro level, we partner with clients in fostering diversity, advancing sustainability in local operations, and helping communities grow and succeed. Given our focus on delivering services that improve people’s quality of life, Sodexo has a responsibility to help others learn and benefit from our experience.

Our philosophy, though, isn’t merely aimed at commercial achievement. It’s strongly tied to what we see as social commitments—to employee development, diversity and inclusion within our teams, and supporting local communities. As services continue to drive development in modern societies, they play increasingly critical business and social roles in addressing economic activity, employment, and individual needs. Through our approach to diversity and inclusion and quality of life-based services, Sodexo is positioned squarely at the intersection of business performance and social change.

At a more micro level, it’s important that we continue expanding our efforts, for example, by working on initiatives to increase and promote more women into leadership roles. Continuously engaging employees is also critical for success and our Diversity Business and Leadership Summit (DBLS), which draws hundreds of employees and clients for professional development in building skills, knowledge, and awareness around different dimensions of diversity. Another key element adding value and strategic direction to our journey has been the creation of an external diversity and inclusion advisory board. Members each represent a different dimension of diversity—their leadership and guidance have helped us place particular emphasis on fostering a culture of inclusion for all employees, including people with disabilities and LGBT employees, and have helped us remain accountable for making progress with diversity and inclusion objectives.

Our progress is exciting and impactful, but success only means we must raise the bar, identify new opportunities, and embed diversity and inclusion deeper into our strategy and organizational culture.

Education: BA, Albion College
First Job: Stock boy on the loading dock of my father’s candy and tobacco wholesale distributorship
What I’m Reading: The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?, by Seth Godin
My Philosophy: Be yourself. Treat everyone around you with respect and dignity. Be open to new possibilities. Listen to good advice.
Best Advice: Keeping employees happy is attainable by providing clear direction, setting expectations, and communicating intent.
Interests: Playing the piano, golf, Pittsburgh Steelers