Rohini Anand, PhD, is the Senior Vice President Corporate Responsibility and Global Chief Diversity Officer, Sodexo, and Chair, Catalyst Board of Advisors. In a three-part Q&A blog series, we asked Dr. Anand to share details about her pivotal role at one of the world’s largest multinational corporations focusing on “quality of life services.” Below is part two where we asked about what challenges she faces and what she believes the future holds for diversity and inclusion.
“Making Every Day a Better Day through Diversity and Inclusion” is Sodexo’s award-winning initiative. What is unique about this initiative and the work Sodexo is doing in diversity and inclusion?
This initiative was a systemic culture change initiative in North America, focused on the development and success of women, people of color, and other historically excluded groups. The initiative included four key elements:
1. Connection to Sodexo’s core business and branding strategy;
2. Leadership, commitment, and engagement;
3. A simultaneous top down, bottom up, middle out approach; and
4. Measurement and accountability.
These elements and the ability to scale and replicate these efforts globally are what really differentiated it from other strategic initiatives.
How has your program expanded in recent years, and what continued results have you seen over time?
We’ve continued to leverage the four key components in our global work and have expanded our focus to include a more holistic approach that includes women in the supply chain and the community.
Some notable results and key progress we’ve seen include:
- Sodexo’s Global Board of Directors is now comprised of 50% Women and is led by Chairwoman Sophie Bellon
- Women represent 38% of the Global Executive Committee
- Women represent 30% of Sodexo’s Global Top 1400 Leaders, up from 17% in 2009, with a target of increasing representation to 40% by 2025
- This target has been publically communicated and more importantly linked to 10%of the Global Leader annual Incentive
- 80% of all employees globally feel that Sodexo values diversity
- In North America, 40% of the executive team is women, and of these 20% are women of color
- 41% of the CEOs in our global regions are women (Nordics, Brazil, LATAM, DAACH, North America)
How does sponsorship play a role in Sodexo’s workplace culture?
Sponsorship is an expectation of leaders and is informal, but more formally is built into the talent management process. We have seen great results from sponsorship both in terms of career progression of women and minorities but also in terms of reciprocal learning on the part of the sponsor. While we have a very robust mentoring culture, which has been very successful in advancing women and people of color in North America, sponsorship has served to accelerate the advancement of senior women with P&L responsibilities.
Do you have any suggestions for leaders who want to involve men in the path to inclusion?
Engaging men in diversity and inclusion efforts involves addressing both the head and the heart. And their involvement in the space must be intentional. We have been able to engage men by demonstrating a very clear business case for gender balance using Sodexo data.
A unique study of Sodexo data from 50,000 global managers in over 100 entities reinforced for us that gender balanced teams (40-60% women) perform better on non-financial (brand awareness, engagement, client retention) as well as financial (organic growth and gross profit) KPIs over three years. Shifting the discussion from representation to gender balance and making a compelling case went a very long way to engage men.
Our Spirit of Inclusion training, which includes a focus on unconscious bias, as well as the opportunity for men to mentor and sponsor women have further helped to engage them at the “heart” level. They have had an opportunity to get to know some of the challenges that women encounter and this has sharpened their inclusive leadership skills.