By Neil Barrett, Group Vice President, Sustainable Development
Part I of a two-part series in conjunction with the release of Sodexo's first Integrated Report.
Many companies look to their founding documents to find their culture. For Sodexo the original vision Pierre Bellon created for the company back in 1966 contains what now seems very prescient:
“Our mission is twofold:
- Improve the Quality of Daily Life of our employees and all whom we serve, and
- Contribute to the economic, social and environmental development of the communities, regions and countries in which we operate.”
The idea of integrating Sodexo’s corporate responsibility into the Annual Report then was a natural fit. Much like our business, Sodexo’s corporate responsibility efforts can be found throughout the report.
Reporting vs. Implementation: Compelling Change
We admit that it wasn’t easy to make this change. In some cases, departments had been creating their own reports for years. But when we asked what our stakeholders (including clients and consumers) wanted to know about Sodexo, it was clear that our corporate responsibility actions and efforts ought to be included. Moreover, an important consideration of promoting any Brand is consistency, which also dictated the how and what we should communicate to our various stakeholders.
Putting this all together has taken many months.
Sodexo’s Annual Report is made up of a number of elements designed to meet statutory requirements and to present the information in a way that is accessible and interesting to our many stakeholders.
The Registration Document includes a unique and comprehensive overview of Sodexo, including an entire chapter that details our corporate responsibility structure, governance and goes into detail on each of our ‘Better Tomorrow’ commitments, with a particular emphasis on Sodexo as an employer because Sodexo is a people company and the 18th largest employer in the world.
Our online “magazine” Inside Sodexo adds to this information with stories to help people better know our company and answers questions to help people understand more about Sodexo. We searched though many examples around the world so we did not favor one geographic region over another. And these are not the ‘one off’ exceptions but rather examples that are universal.
We have also included videos, testimonials, case studies and key figures of our 2013 performance. All these elements make up our Annual Report.
Complete Immersion: Corporate Responsibility
When the report releases, it will tell the story of a company that has immersed corporate responsibility in its day-to-day operations – using representative examples from around the world of how we do things across our supply chain while describing how we conduct ourselves, how we have worked to raise awareness and engagement within our employees and our business in the 80 countries where we operate. We’ll share how we take a global commitment – in this case to sustainable seafood – and implement it around the world, including the use of independent certifications to assure ourselves, our clients, consumers and the public that the fish s caught by professionals using sustainable methods from a healthy species in a location where it is thriving is the exact same fish on the menu.
Sodexo's Supply Chain…Toward Sustainability
We’ll also share examples of how we are working with local suppliers, helping them meet our quality, safety and other standards in order to bring them into our supply chain – growing their market opportunity and helping small farmer survive and thrive. How, despite being recognized as a global company we continue to develop and expand our commitment to local communities through the increasing engagement with small to medium enterprises.
With a supply chain that includes 10,000 suppliers ranging from large multinational companies to family farms, our commitment to sustainability means we have to think locally and globally. While you might expect us to source locally in remote and hard-to-reach places (which we do) we’ll introduce you to a local producer who grows vegetables that Sodexo serves 40 minutes from his farm in the very heart of Paris; a family-owned food distributor in the United States who connects us to three dozen local farms; and a thousand technical experts who are part of the Roth (a Sodexo company) business model that deploys them to serve our clients across the United States.
We’ll also share our work in supporting local communities – through both economic development in the mountains of Peru to our efforts in 42 countries to help address the issue of hunger. Our global STOP Hunger program, for example, continues to engage our employees, clients, consumers, suppliers and NGOs in actions that support those who are impacted by hunger and malnutrition in our communities.
Our efforts in the area of nutrition, health and wellness cover many areas. Sodexo is the largest private employer of dietitians in the world – dietitians who empower people to make choices that can improve their health. But in this area we focus on our collaboration with one of our supplier partners: Unilever. Their nutrition experts will share what it was like working side by side with Sodexo chefs to developing new recipes and menu offers for consumers – including employees in their own canteens because Unilever is not only a major supplier, it is also a major client for Sodexo.
Leading by Giving People Opportunities
Of course, as one of the largest employers in the world, we’ll also delve into why we’re continually recognized as a leader in diversity and inclusion – but more importantly what that means to our workforce of 428,000 employees. Sodexo offers careers, not just jobs and a quarter of our managers come from our frontline workforce. We – and they – make the investment in their future; last year more than 80 percent participated in at least one training program.
And we’ll share our emphasis on hiring younger professionals – a group particularly hit hard by the global economic downturn.
Are these examples the ‘best’? We hope so as we continue to focus also on things that matter to our stakeholders – which leads at times to some passionate discussions and even some arguments across our stakeholders, both internal and external.
It's sometimes hard to choose because these stories are our story.
We hope you’ll enjoy this look Inside Sodexo and join us for our first-ever Twitter chat on December 10th at 1:00pm EST at #SodexoCR to share our story and help us grow sustainably through your ideas, feedback and comments.