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Pictured from left to right: Romeo Effs - Global Managing Director, Involve Raj Verma - SodexoSenior Vice President Human Resources Corporate Services Worldwide and Sodexo Global Executive Sponsor for Local Minorities - Cultures and Origins Sandra Kerr - Race Equality Director, BITC Meg Horsburgh - Sodexo Head of Diversity & Inclusion UK & Ireland and Sodexo Global Disability Leader Karen Pleva - Sodexo Global Head of Pharma and Life Sciences Professor Binna Kandola OBE - Senior Partner and co-founder, Pearn Kandola

Talking about cultural diversity

Yesterday saw Sodexo host a breakfast event at its London headquarters on the subject of Modern Racism in the Workplace in recognition of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

The event, conceived in an era when getting race equality right in the UK is worth £24 billion per year to the UK economy, (1.3% of GDP) brought together a range of experts, practitioners and interested parties from across industries to explore the attitude change and actions need to promote increased comfort in discussing the topic.

Raj Verma, Senior Vice President Human Resources Corporate Services Worldwide and Global Executive Sponsor for Local Minorities – Cultures and Origins, opened the event sharing Sodexo’s approach and announcing the launch of its global report ‘Addressing Culture and Origins across the Globe’ which features Sodexo UK’s Faith Initiative in HM Prison Bronzefield, ‘Faith Behind Bars.

Audience members heard from Professor Binna Kandola OBE, author, business psychologist and co-founder of Pearn Kandola, on modern racism, the ways in which it can manifest and the actions organisations can take.

A panel featuring Romeo Effs, a leading diversity and inclusion thinker and Managing Director at INvolve, Sandra Kerr OBE Race Equality Director Business in the Community and Karen Pleva, Global Head of Pharma and Life Sciences at Sodexo explored what organisations are doing, lessons that could be learnt from their experiences and how progress could be accelerated.

Professor Kandola OBE said:Sodexo’s approach to this topic is to be commended. Their approach combines intellectual rigour, geographical breadth and pragmatism, whilst also recognising the need for organisations to collaborate if we really want to make progress happen quicker. This event has provided a fantastic forum to discuss what it is going to take to become comfortable having uncomfortable conversations so that we can start to improve the experiences and opportunities for those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.”

Meg Horsburgh, Head of Diversity & Inclusion UK & Ireland and Global Disability Leader commented: “Like many organisations, we want to increase BAME representation in our business and today’s event was a great opportunity to promote collaboration on what we see as societal as well as a business issue.”

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