14 Apr 2015
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Debbie White, CEO Sodexo UK and Ireland

Sodexo takes action on equal pay

This post was written by our CEO Debbie White.

Today is Equal Pay Day and the theme of last month’s International Women’s Day was ‘Make It Happen’. In the last century women have fought hard for equality in politics, in society and in business, but there is still more work to be done. There still aren’t enough women in senior positions within business and a gender pay gap still exists. If we are going to drive true equality then each of us has a role to play in making it happen.

As a business leader, I certainly feel a personal responsibility to ensure that our employees enjoy equality of opportunity. I am proud that Sodexo has placed diversity and inclusion at the heart of its mission and has taken active, tangible steps to promote gender balance at all levels of our business. As a result last year we were named among  The Times Top 50 Employers for Women and won the Global Award at the Opportunity Now Excellence in Practice Awards. Successful businesses, like ours, know that setting out a clear strategy and taking active steps – setting targets for gender balance, demanding balanced slates when hiring, supporting flexible working – really delivers against the bottom line.

Sodexo recently conducted a study gathering data from 52,000 managers working in 100 entities across the world, comparing the performance of those that were gender-balanced (at least a 40/60% ratio) vs those that weren’t. The results were compelling. Over the past three consecutive years, the gender-balanced entities were 13% more likely to record consistent organic growth and 23% more likely to show an increase in gross profit.  They also performed better for employee engagement, brand image, consumer satisfaction and client retention.

Our next positive step is to address gender pay equality. In April 2014 Sodexo UK & Ireland conducted its first sample equal pay audit using a number of generic jobs within a cross section of our employee base. The overall gender pay gap across this sample population, of approximately 10,600 employees, was 10.5% compared to the national average of 19.1%.

We can do better. We are announcing a pledge to publicly publish by 2016 a detailed breakdown of our pay gap audit, comparing the pay of groups of our employees who are completing equal work within Sodexo broken down by gender, ethnicity, disability and by working pattern. This will involve conducting a full review of the banding of all roles across the organisation including looking at 453 job titles across the business, so no small feat! As one of the largest employers in the UK and Ireland with over 35,000 people, we will be the first company of our size and scope to report this level of detail. Once we have this data, we will, where appropriate, rectify any discrepancies identified. 

Business has a really important role to play in promoting gender balance and indeed in driving the diversity and inclusion agenda more broadly. One of my favourite sayings is, ‘What gets measured gets done’. Let’s drive transparency, set strategy and make gender balance a business imperative. Let’s make it happen.

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