Sodexo sets the pace on diversity

SODEXO IS marking today’s UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities by sharing eight exceptional stories of employees who live with or are impacted by a disability.


‘Making the difference’ showcases life-affirming stories of Sodexo employees around the world with disabilities. They share what it means to work for Sodexo, a company that actively supports them and gives them equal opportunity to reach their full potential.


The UK story is of Project Search, a partnership between Sodexo and global healthcare and pharmaceutical company GSK, which encourages students with learning difficulties into the workplace.


From September 2012 to June 2013, 12 students aged 17 to 24 became part Sodexo’s teams and worked three hours a day at GSK’s corporate headquarters in Brentford, UK. The majority of the students went on to get jobs after the programme.


Megan Horsburgh, head of diversity and inclusion at Sodexo UK and Ireland, said: “One person out of six in the world today has some kind of disability. The inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce is a major issue worldwide, and for Sodexo, a key component in our commitment to being an inclusive and responsible employer.


“Fostering diversity is not just a question of making the right choice; it is also a business imperative. I am convinced that our progress in the inclusion of people with disabilities has — and will continue to have — a direct impact on our ability to meet the expectations of clients and consumers. In our profession, where human interactions and the spirit of service prevail, diversity is even more of an asset and guarantee of our clients’ satisfaction.”


Sodexo’s commitment to support employees with disabilities in the workplace is recognised with the highest number of diversity and inclusion charters or labels in Europe. Among them: Austria’s Charta der Viefalt, the Swedish Diversity Charter, the Charte de la Diversité in France as well as eight other European charters.


Sodexo is focused on developing strong and innovative local initiatives such as Project Search in the UK; the SOAR network – Sodexo Organization for Disabilities Resources – run by 570 Sodexo volunteers in the US; or the Libras initiative in Brazil which consists of the translation of all training videos for Sodexo employees into the local sign language.


In 2013, the Sodexo Group ranked top of DiversityInc’s ‘Top 50 Companies for Diversity’ list in the US and won the ‘Trophée de la Diversité’ in France for its global approach to diversity and inclusion. Sodexo was also selected as the European Union Disability Matters honoree, in the workplace category, for a first-of-its-kind disability network.