Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2011

Shifting the Diversity Climate: The Sodexo Solution

by David A. Thomas and Stephanie J. Creary

Abstract

This case profiles the evolution of Sodexo's diversity initiative. Diversity became a key priority for Sodexo, North America in 2001 after a class-action lawsuit was filed and certified in Washington, D.C. against Sodexo Marriot Services, Inc., the food services division that Sodexo had merged with in 1998. In 2002, Dr. Rohini Anand was hired by Michel Landel, CEO of Sodexo, North America. Soon thereafter, Anand was instated as chief diversity officer for Sodexo, North America. Anand and Landel worked with several executives to develop and implement systems that were conducive to a diversity strategy. The team started to build the human resource processes that would address many of the concerns in the lawsuit: training systems, selection systems, and a career posting center. By 2010, Sodexo, North America was continuing to gain traction on its diversity strategy, and a global diversity initiative for the group was underway. In addition, the company had developed diversity priorities focused on five different dimensions of difference from a global perspective: gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, and age. However, more work still needed to be done to engage employees around the world in the company's diversity initiatives.

Keywords: Diversity Characteristics; Business Strategy; Globalization; Management Teams; Gender Characteristics; Race Characteristics; Ethnicity Characteristics; Age Characteristics; Food and Beverage Industry; North America; Washington (state, US);

Citation:

Thomas, David A., and Stephanie J. Creary. "Shifting the Diversity Climate: The Sodexo Solution." Harvard Business School Case 412-020, July 2011.