I am the Chair of the Sodexo PRIDE (People Respecting Individuality, Diversity and Equality) Employee Network Group that champions an environment of acceptance and workplace equality for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and ally team members through employee engagement, community involvement, education and awareness.
Employee Network Groups at Sodexo are organized by employees who, based on shared experiences, join together to provide a positive forum for professional development, and input ideas that support the success of the company’s diversity efforts. Networks are organized around a common dimension of diversity and are created by employees who want to raise awareness in Sodexo of one of the identity groups.
Working with Sodexo PRIDE has opened up more opportunities for me than I ever thought possible – I’ve connected with people around the globe, I’ve seen the phenomenal work that Sodexo employees everywhere are doing to make the places they work more inclusive, and I’ve been able to work alongside the PRIDE membership to create memorable education and engagement tools.
And we have a great place to start. For the past 4 years, Sodexo has had a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index, an annual report card for organizations measuring their GLBT-friendly policies and practices. We’ve been listed in DiversityInc.’s Top 10 Companies for GLBT Employees. And we’ve even won the Straight for Equality in the Workplace award to recognize our outstanding engagement of straight allies within the organization and in our communities.
With all of this good news, you may think that people might be ready to take a break. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. No matter where I go, people are always looking for ways to make Sodexo even more inclusive for GLBT – and ally – employees and clients.
The one question that seems to follow me (and, I suspect, a lot of PRIDE members) no matter where I go is pretty simple: “What can I do to help?” While I’d like to suggest that everyone should join PRIDE – and, by the way, you should – the answer that I always have is equally simple: Have conversations to prove that you are a leader who is open to this issue.
Of course, suggesting that people have conversations is much easier than actually initiating those dialogues. But as Pride Month 2012 continues, I’m thrilled to report that Sodexo is about to make having conversations and being a supportive leader much easier.
So in the next month, look for the newest resource to supercharge your GLBT inclusion efforts: The GLBT Conversation Toolkit. We worked with our partners at both PFLAG National and Buck Davis (a popular trainer for many Sodexo learning labs) to create this exciting new project.
Inside you’ll find one of the most comprehensive collections of information about GLBT issues, the challenges that people face, details about language and culture cues, pointers about Sodexo’s policies and benefits for GLBT employees, and detailed “how-to” guidance on the best way to navigate some of the toughest situations around GLBT issues that we encounter in our work roles.
The whole publication will be available online and literally come to life with the video narratives of several Sodexo employees – both GLBT and allies – having their own conversations about how being out at Sodexo has impacted their lives and careers.
My favorite part, though, is a new concept that we’re introducing called the Sodexo Open Leader. For those who find value in the guide and want to find a simple and powerful way to let people know that you’d like to talk about it, you can download some of our Open Leader materials from the toolkit and use it as a way to open up some of those conversations that I always ask people to have.
So happy Pride Month, everyone! Thank you for all of the amazing work that you are doing as the out and proud, talented, world-changing GLBT and Ally Sodexo teams out there – and look for the Toolkit soon. I’ll be on the lookout for all of the new Open Leaders!
Jude Medeiros is a vice president of operations and the Chair of the Sodexo PRIDE Employee Network Group.