Talkin’ bout Generations – why generational diversity is a business issue

BITCI News - Jul 27, 2015


Sodexo is one of the world’s largest services companies. With 420,000 employees in 80 countries it is the 18th largest employer in the world.

As a services company, people are Sodexo’s key asset and the company firmly believes that an inclusive culture is imperative to its continued success. A diverse and inclusive culture not only has an impact on attracting and retaining the best talent, it also drives engagement and productivity; delivers innovation and builds brand reputation.

Sodexo has a global Diversity & Inclusion strategy with five focus areas which reflect not only the diversity of its people but also of its customer base. The areas are gender, sexual orientation, culture and origins, generations and disability.

At a local level in the UK and Ireland there are dedicated workstreams for each of these five focus areas, along with an additional workstream for inclusion, with an emphasis on driving best practice as well as setting and achieving targets and aspirations.

The UK and Ireland workforce totals 34,000 people who are providing quality of life services at some 2,000 locations and for many markets including education, healthcare, defence, justice, leisure and corporate sectors.

On 22 September at All Hallows, Dublin Sodexo is hosting an event to share with other companies the lessons Sodexo has learnt about managing a multi-generational workforce. Guests of the ‘Talkin’ bout Generations – why generational diversity is a business issue’ event will hear about the creation of Sodexo’s Generations workstream in 2012 and the work it has done since then in helping employees understand the personal and professional development needs of different generations within the workplace. Clare Mulligan, organisational and business psychologist, who specialises in intergenerational age differences in the workplace will also speak at the event and there will be round-table discussions for companies to share their experiences and ask questions

Highlights of Sodexo’s work on generations include the launch of an employee network in 2014 which aims to raise awareness of the generational differences in the business and the benefits of cross-generational working brings to not only the organisation but to individuals as well.

To launch this network a card-based game was created for Sodexo’s teams to play. The Gen-Match game helps to break down generational barriers and encourages the participants to think about and identify the differences and similarities of generations in a fun and engaging way.

With such a large workforce spread out across the UK and Ireland Sodexo has also utlilised webinars to provide members of the generations employee network with topics on issues which affect the different generations for example those having to balance work with their personal care responsibilities.

Debbie White, CEO of Sodexo UK&I, said, “The differences between generations can lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication but if we raise awareness of those differences and harness people’s individuality, it can have a huge impact on the way we work together and help us perform better as a business. That is why we have the different focus areas; to help us all better understand the people we work with and make us more effective.”

Sodexo’s work on the generations agenda has received external recognition winning the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (ENEI) intergenerational working award in July 2015 and is a finalist in this year’s BITC UK’s responsible business awards for the championing an ageing workforce award.

If you would like to attend the Talkin Bout Generations event on 22 September (7.30-10am) please email:

Visit Sodexo’s website to find out more about their Corporate Social Responsibility.