Sodexo initiatives recognised at 2021 National Social Value Conference

Sodexo has received two highly commended accolades at the 2021 National Social Value Awards in recognition of its efforts to look after its workforce and embedding social value in the management of its contracts.

The results of the awards were announced at the two-day National Social Value Conference which also saw Sodexo’s Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, Sophie Bellon, open the second day with a keynote speech focusing on the need for a collective ambition to make a lasting positive impact within our communities.

The Social Value Awards look to recognise organisations which demonstrate innovation, leadership and best practice.

Sodexo’s healthcare segment was recognised in the Social Value through Decent Work: Project Award, a category focusing on the achievements of organisations that demonstrate care for its people. Sodexo recognises the vital importance of supporting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

In June 2020, Sodexo introduced a face-to-face counselling service to help its frontline key workers predominantly based at acute hospitals to deal with the pressures of working through the Covid-19 pandemic. The service, initially introduced as a three-month trial, has to date delivered over 800 sessions and will continue until April 2021.

Sodexo was also highly commended in the Embedding Social Value in Contract Management: Project Award for its support of residents in student accommodation at Northumbria University during the Covid-19 pandemic, this includes:

• Free of charge 24/7 digital concierge service to residents at Sodexo-managed student accommodation
• Option for food and hydration food parcels to be delivered if required to self-isolate, available to the University’s entire student population
• Christmas hamper to provide food for four days over the festive period when new restrictions stopped students returning home. Hamper included traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings, Christmas crackers, board games and a Christmas card.

Sean Haley, regional Chair, Sodexo UK & Ireland, said, “Congratulations to both teams and thank you for doing all that you do. Both these initiatives reflect the positive impact our teams are having on the communities in which we operate, every day.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of doing business with purpose and responsibility and I am proud of all of our teams who continue to do all they can to ensure we are providing social value in all we do. As I said at the conference, it is no longer a discussion, no longer a debate, it's non-negotiable - social value must be embedded into everything we do.”

In her speech, Bellon noted that companies across the globe are expected to show they are making a contribution beyond the scope of their activity and that there is a need to work together to face the challenges of inequality, food security and climate change.

Bellon said “The Covid-19 crisis is a unique opportunity to find and implement a new social balance in order to “recover, rebuild, renew”. And the partnership between public, private and third-sector actors is perhaps the most powerful lever. We will make tremendous progress on issues that will shape our future, if public and private players seize them together, with ambition, courage and mutual trust.”

Haley was on the panel of the discussion following Bellon’s keynote, the session focused on 'embedding social value into how business does business' on how businesses should engage in order to deliver more social value for communities.

Other panellists included Sally Uren OBE, CEO, Forum for the Future; Shuen Chan, Head of ESG, Legal & General Investment Management; and Colin Macpherson, CEO Places and Communities, Engie.

On the first day of the conference Sodexo’s director of social impact Angela Halliday joined a session with Crown Commercial Service discussing integrating social value in central government procurement.

The conference, this year titled: ‘Recover, rebuild, renew’, came just a week after Sodexo launched its 2021 Social Impact Pledge a series of commitments forming its ethical manifesto for leading the way to improve quality of life for society and our planet.