George Chavel

George Chavel
President and CEO, Sodexo, Inc.

Headquarters: Gaithersburg, Maryland
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: From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership, by Harry M. Jansen Kraemer, Jr.
Interests: Playing the piano, golf, and the Pittsburgh Steelers

Leveraging new dynamics

Diversity and inclusion is indeed a central management challenge in today’s global marketplace, but understanding how workforce demographics and workplace needs are changing also provides an opportunity to both support and leverage a multicultural workforce for professional development and meeting business objectives. In Sodexo’s 2014 Workplace Trends Report, we highlight issues that may greatly impact a company’s ability to operate successfully while identifying and retaining top talent. The report analyzes workplace trends and counter-trends, providing a powerful tool to consider current and future workforce dynamics.

For example, generational diversity will continue to impact the workplace as older workers work longer and younger workers enter in larger numbers. For the first time ever, we have five generations in the workplace. Companies can no longer discount the impact the workplace has on performance and effectiveness; examining how people work, how they want to work, and when they are most productive can produce significant value for an organization and enable workers to be more engaged and productive.

One of the realities of today’s workplace is the need for cross-cultural understanding in our increasingly global workplace. Success for today’s leaders very often entails coping with differing modes of communication, reconciling disparate views of what constitutes work and work/life balance, and building shared cultural references and shared historical experiences. At Sodexo we are addressing these changes through multiple programs and commitments, including our nine affinity-based Employee Business Resource Groups, which are focused on inclusion activities, professional development, building the talent pipeline, providing support to the local communities we serve, and helping the organization achieve business priorities.

Corporations will need to continue to evolve their diversity and inclusion efforts as part of their business plans. This includes creating pipelines for women and other minorities to the senior executive levels. At Sodexo, we identify high-potential employees through our emerging leaders program, our mentoring programs, and also through leaders in our Employee Business Resource Groups.

The need for culturally competent leaders will be ever more urgent as the workforce becomes more diverse in a number of different dimensions. Increasingly the role of a corporate executive is to model behavior that embraces a diversity of thought and inclusion of people. It is imperative that leaders understand how demographics are changing, and how their needs differ, to be able to create the workforce and workplace that will be successful today and in the future. I encourage you to review Sodexo’s 2014 Workplace Trends Report at to gain some valuable insights as we continue on our collective diversity journeys.