by Texanna Reeves
Vice President, Diversity
Despite a year of economic uncertainties, Sodexo remained steadfast in its commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is that commitment that drives our ability to identify and develop the best talent, create an inclusive culture where our workforce can thrive, and deliver outstanding services to our clients and customers. It is also what differentiates us as an organization and establishes our competitive advantage in the marketplace.
To ensure that our employees continue to grow and benefit from diversity and inclusion and to introduce our commitment to our clients, Sodexo launched a professional development conference exclusively dedicated to diversity and inclusion. Over the years it has evolved into a premier event that draws hundreds of employees and clients annually.
The creation of the day-long Diversity Business and leadership Summit was a significant milestone in the evolution of our diversity journey because it addressed an on-going challenge—how to offer employees additional training around diversity and inclusion that goes beyond the essentials.
The Summit began with an attendance of less than 100 managers but has expanded to over 500 participants including managers, clients, potential clients and vendors. The Summit provides workshops and learning labs focused on building skills, knowledge, and awareness around different dimensions of diversity. The Summit also features subject-matter experts, industry speakers, panel discussions, presentations, and networking opportunities.
“The Diversity Business and Leadership Summit was a significant milestone in the evolution of our diversity journey because it addressed an on-going challenge – how to offer employees additional training around diversity and inclusion that goes beyond the essentials.”
For clients, the Summit offers Sodexo an opportunity to differentiate our value and demonstrate the rich array of learning experiences we offer as part of our diversity consulting services.
It is important to note that a significant factor in the success of the Diversity Business and leadership Summit has been executive involvement, including the ongoing commitment of our CEO George Chavel. Members of Sodexo’s executive team are executive sponsors for our eight employee network groups and champion many diversity and inclusion initiatives including the Summit, Cross Market Diversity Council, Spirit of Mentoring and Flexibility Works.
The numbers speak for themselves. Survey results after the 2009 Summit indicated 99% of attendees found the Summit valuable, and 93% of employees who attended felt more connected to the organization. In addition, 98% of clients and employees felt the Summit provided them with a new skill or increased their knowledge base relative to diversity and inclusion.