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Female leadership

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Gender balance in facilities management roles

Although 70% of women across the globe want to be in paid employment, obstacles such as gender stereotypes, discrimination, and a persistent set of socio-economic barriers continue to make it difficult for women to break into certain industries.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, the World Economic Forum predicted that, at the current pace of change, it would take 257 years to achieve workplace equality. The pandemic has accelerated existing unemployment trends; so given that last year, women made up 39% of global employment but accounted for 54% of overall job losses can we expect that timeline to be even longer?

Removing barriers for women in the workplace

At Sodexo, we continue to strive for gender balance and equality as key enablers to drive business performance. We have committed to having at least 40% of women in our leadership and 100% of our business having gender-balanced management teams by 2025.

Our SoTogether gender network is active around the world, breaking down barriers to female career progression across the organization.

A particular focus for us is attracting and retaining female talent in roles where women are currently under-represented; such as FM (facilities management), digital and STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Maths), and operational leadership roles. Here are some of the initiatives through which we are helping more women to pursue their careers:

Breaking down stereotypes in Brazil

Our SoTogether network in Brazil works in partnership with the Brazilian Engineering Institute to engage with young women engineers through in-person events and webinars to encourage women to continue to follow their chosen career path, raise awareness of the career opportunities with Sodexo and break down stereotypes about ‘masculine’ roles.

By introducing multiple contactless services, including contactless payment, through the app, our Sodexo teams around the world have been able to support remote site workers at this challenging time whilst also reducing touchpoints and without compromising safety.

Supporting women in FM in Canada

In 2020, we partnered with our client at Cedar Valley Lodge, Canada, to work in collaboration with Women Building Futures, a non-profit organization based in Edmonton, Alberta, dedicated to empowering women by removing barriers and helping place women in non-traditional roles.

Thanks to this partnership we have been able to hire two recent graduates from the Women Building Futures program.

Closing the gender gap in Colombia

SheWorks is a global program, which Sodexo launched two years ago to support vulnerable women in our local communities, giving them work experience and an insight into the type of careers they could enjoy at a company like Sodexo. The program is currently active in 20 different countries.

""In 2019, 29 women were invited to join the SheWorks program in Colombia. They all wanted to develop skills and join the workforce but none of them had been able to access studies or benefit from a financial income.

All participants were offered a 9-month academic training course followed by 6 months of work experience. Last year, 15 of them acquired the qualification of ‘Technician in residential electrical installations’.

A further 25 women have joined the program and are currently part way through their training.

Inspiring career paths in the UK & Ireland

In 2019, SheWorks was used in the UK & Ireland both as an internal and external job shadowing initiative. Internally, women already working for Sodexo were encouraged to find out more about FM as a career path through this initiative, with 22 women taking the opportunity to experience a day in the life of an FM manager. Feedback from the initiative was hugely positive and many have moved to a FM role or are working towards a move to an FM role through relevant training.

Externally, the SheWorks initiative in the UK has, this year, introduced female ex-offenders approaching prison release to career paths they may not have previously considered. Webinars have been delivered in two of Sodexo’s female prisons, HMP Bronzefield in Surrey and HMP Peterborough, as well as HMP Drake Hall in Staffordshire. Each event included guest speakers from Sodexo talking about their jobs and careers. Each session also included employability guidance and advice, as well as the chance to identify job opportunities with partner organizations.

Increasing awareness of FM in the US

In the US, Sodexo’s FM team has been working together with the SoTogether gender network to de-mystify FM to attract more diversity within the profession. In the United States, only 19% of Facility Managers are women and only 23% identify as minorities. With a series of webchats, events, live broadcasts and publications the two teams helped employees from across the organization understand the wide range of paths in facilities management. As part of the awareness campaign, training and networking opportunities were also given to encourage people to consider working within the FM industry.

Unlocking opportunities for working women

As automation transforms the nature of work, 7 to 24 % of women currently employed, may need to transition across occupations by 2030. We understand that providing access to skills, to equal opportunities and resources is critical to help women reach their full potential.

We are convinced that when we empower women, we also empower the individuals and communities around them.  Through initiatives like SheWorks, mentoring and apprenticeships, our teams are reshaping gender stereotypes, closing the gender gap in the workplace, and driving innovation and growth.

Find out more about how we are … pressing for Progress on Gender Equality

Meet some of our talented colleagues in STEM, FM and digital roles here.

June 03, 2021

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