Championing Gender Equality
In observance of International Women’s Day, over 300 leaders from business, civil society, government and the United Nations (UN) gathered at UN Headquarters in New York City for the 2016 Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) event.
Since 2013, the WEPs Annual Event has included the announcement of the WEPs CEO Leadership Awards, saluting five exceptional CEOs for championing gender equality and the 7 WEPs Principles, in particular Principle One, which urges CEOs to lead by example.
Michel Landel, Chief Executive Officer, Sodexo and Janet Awad, Regional Chair of Latin America and Country President, Sodexo Chile, were awarded with the 7 Principles WEPs CEO Leadership Award, which recognizes a company for its demonstrated commitment to and implementation of policies that advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. In particular, the UN acknowledged the Sodexo Women's International Forum for Talent (SWIFt), which underpins Sodexo's strategy for improving the group's gender balance.
Launched 2009 by Michel Landel, SWIFt comprises 35 senior managers representing 15 different nationalities and all the Company’s business segments, and aims to increase the number of women in senior positions. SWIFt makes practical suggestions that have led to the progress now recognized by the French Ministry of Women's Rights.
Sodexo CEO Michel Landel: "Gender balance and, even more so, diversity, are sources of richness, creativity and improved collective performance. I am proud of the work accomplished at Sodexo and remain steadfast in my commitment to increase the number of women in senior leadership roles, foster a culture of inclusion and serve as an advocate for gender equality within our industry and for the clients and communities we serve."
Janet Awad, Region Chair of Latin America and Country President, Sodexo Chile: "Sodexo is guided by the vision that to create lasting value, organizations must place people at the center of their thinking. This belief has become the foundation of our gender balance strategy. By tapping into the full potential of both women and men, we are stronger, more innovative and better at serving our 75 million consumers each day worldwide."
In addition to the programs established through SWIFt, Sodexo also announced its commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative to spend $1 billion in goods and services with small and medium sized businesses, including 1,500 women owned businesses. Examples of how Sodexo is engaged in these community partnerships to empower women include: (Colombia) Working closely with the government and civic groups, Sodexo is helping to train former FARC soldiers and find them employment options that bring them back into the workforce. Around 300 people, one third of them women, have taken part in the program and joined the workforce; and (Peru) Sodexo has implemented programs in six regions that provide training on hospitality and development of maintenance skills. Around 1,500 community members have benefited from this effort, of which 1,000 of the participants were hired by Sodexo, half of them women.
Conferring the awards in the historic Trusteeship Council Chamber of the United Nations, Joseph Keefe, Co-chair of the WEPs Leadership Group and President and Chief Executive Officer of Pax World Management said: "The WEPs are an effective tool to advance women in business and society. The WEPs CEO Leaderships Awards bring to life concrete actions and measurable impacts that are changing workplaces, marketplaces and communities. As a previous Awards recipient, I know that this prestigious award gives companies encouragement to press forward with this important work."
About the Women’s Empowerment Principles
The Women's Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business is a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact. The Principles, which were developed in 2010, outline seven steps for business on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. The WEPs provide a ready-made platform to mobilize corporate action and catalyze partnerships and collaborations that have the potential to deepen and accelerate impact, benefiting women and girls, families, businesses, and economies around the world. Learn more at www.weprinciples.org.