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As demographic shifts accelerate the changing global workforce, leaders who leverage the diversity of their employee populations and create an inclusive culture, could see higher levels of safety and engagement within their organization. While there is not necessarily a causal relationship between inclusion, safety, and engagement, some studies reflect a correlation between these indicators and positive business outcomes.

At Sodexo, Health and Safety is an integral part of Sodexo’s mission to improve Quality of Life. As evidenced in our Global Health and Safety policy, we are committed to achieving a global health and safety culture and world class health and safety performance. We believe that integrating health & safety into everything we do will minimize risk to people and property. As such, Sodexo has taken steps to integrate safety behaviors into the network of diverse teams who deliver our services to over 75 million customers in 80 countries around the world each day.

Results of the 2016 global Sodexo employee engagement survey indicate Workplace Safety and Security is the highest driver for employee engagement at 85% followed closely by Diversity at number two with an 80% engagement rate. It is clear that employees value knowing they are working in a safe and inclusive environment where their contributions make a difference in the quality of life of fellow employees, clients and consumers.

Sodexo exemplifies this impactful intersection in a number of ways. For example, standard operating procedures and policies are written and translated in multiple languages, encouraging commitment beyond compliance for our diverse workforce when it comes to thinking about safety. In another example, Sodexo Energy & Resources – USA reports an 84% decrease in recordable incident rates 8% increase in employee engagement while simultaneously increasing the mix of cultural diversity among employees and contractors over 200% from 2014 to 2016. These measures can be attributed in part to leadership and management providing safety and training programs that ensure every employee receives training in a way that meets their diverse needs – be it visual materials that transcend language barriers, translation services, or equipping managers with resources to provide training to a culturally diverse team.

Cultural competency in healthcare also exemplifies the significance of integrating safety among diverse employee, client and consumer populations. Communication and comprehension between caregivers, patients and residents across dimensions of diversity is fundamental to successful health outcomes. An article in The Journal of the American Medical Association which assesses resident physicians’ readiness to provide cross-cultural care indicates that 24% of respondents “lacked the skills to identify relevant cultural customs that impact medical care.” Increased cultural competency training for physicians and caregivers will mitigate some of the safety risks posed by this lack of knowledge.

According to a 2012 Diversity Best Practices publication, Healthcare providers in the US are now facing an increase in diverse populations entering the healthcare market following the Affordable Care Act. Since its introduction there has been an increase in the number of minorities who are entering the system. The need for healthcare providers to deliver culturally competent care in order to improve patient health outcomes is an imminent and important reality. Knowing how to safely care for a broad spectrum of needs across a diversity of people from various generations, people with disabilities, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation and cultures and origins requires an inclusive team that understands how to bridge across differences and provide safe care that results in outcomes which increase the quality of life of patients and residents.

Globally, the increasingly diverse composition of teams due to higher rates of immigration, cross border appointments and expatriate workers, and other demographic factors means that teams are no longer structured the same. Workers who would not have otherwise worked together now find themselves partnering on projects resulting in managers leading diverse teams that do not share their own cultural background. As a result, communication becomes a key factor that presents an opportunity for a diverse team to listen and learn from one another in order to operate efficiently and safely. Additionally, the ability for such diverse teams to provide variances in perspectives, convergences of best practices, and the ability to leverage divergent viewpoints to meet one objective has proven key in terms of health and safety.

With the inevitability of an increasingly diverse workforce, inclusive leadership is now at the forefront of creating and sustaining a culture of health and safety for employees, clients and consumers. At Sodexo, safety and inclusion are embedded into the culture of the organization as a result of the dedication and commitment from senior leadership: Sodexo’s CEO has signed the Global Health and Safety Policy and chairs the Diversity Leadership Committee. Throughout the organization, there are a number of commitments to enhance the capabilities of leadership to grow in cultural agility and commit to a goal of achieving zero harm.


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