DEI - A Global Conversation
Engage Magazine Fall 2021

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion: The Global Conversation

by Zeta Smith, CEO of Sodexo Seniors North America 

Sodexo is proud to be a benchmark organization in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). And that commitment to DEI requires continuous education and conversation. We encourage our teams to ensure inclusion is central to our business. However, it is important to recognize that we don’t all come to the conversation with all the right words – even when we have the best intentions.  

In response to this need, Sodexo has created a Global Ethnicity Conversation Guide through ONESodexo, our collective initiatives regarding cultures and origins. And I have been proud to be an executive sponsor of this valuable resource, ensuring everyone in our company has equal opportunities to grow and thrive. We have already achieved so much in the DEI space, and our mission is not finished – we must continually challenge our ways of working, raise awareness, and build systems that are free from ethnic bias and stereotype. And in building a culturally inclusive workplace for our teams, we also strive to set an example to our clients, partners and consumers – collaborating together for a more inclusive society. 

The mission of ONESodexo is to promote a culturally inclusive workplace experience that reflects the diversity of the communities in which we live and serve. 

Our communities are full of beautiful diversity, and our industry has steadily worked to encourage inclusion. Now, the emphasis Sodexo is choosing to make is to improve equity. The notion of equity recognizes that our backgrounds and our circumstances are not all treated fairly. Challenging the status quo by providing focused support for those who need it most is essential if we truly want to address imbalance. 

For instance, in the U.S., Black professionals hold just 3.2 percent of all executive or senior leadership roles, and less than 1 percent of all Fortune 500 CEO positions. Figures like these are indicators of the fundamental systems in place that perpetuate inequality in business leadership. As Mirjana Najcevska, Chair of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, says, “Structural inequality is a state which arises when certain groups enjoy unequal status in relation to other groups, as a result of unequal relations in their roles, functions, rights and opportunities.” 

Sodexo’s Global Ethnicity Conversation Guide supports a deeper understanding of the facts of ethnic diversity and provides education on how our employees can be leaders on this topic – and to empower them to have the tough conversations. 

These conversations are essential, and they can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, the Global Conversation Guide inspires our people to celebrate backgrounds and form deeper understandings of the experiences of our team members, clients, residents, and visitors. Together, we’re continuing to move senior living forward by committing to a truly inclusive environment. 

Inclusion never stops.