Local Leader

Gaithersburg's Sodexo earns kudos for GLBT equality

Sodexo Inc.(www.sodexousa.com), a food- and facilities-management company headquartered in Gaithersburg, has been voted one of the Top 10 employers in the country for GLBT people by Diversity Inc., which runs a Web site and monthly print magazine with a mission ”to bring education and clarity to the business benefits of diversity.”

Joe Hoffman, director of information systems and technology at Sodexo, says he is ”pleased” the company was selected as the seventh on the list.

”I think Sodexo, as well as the [People Respecting Individuality, Diversity and Equality (PRIDE) Sodexo employee network group], have really worked hard toward being recognized as preferred employer for my community, for the GLBT community.”

Hoffman says PRIDE started four years ago with nine employees and has grown to include about 250 members.

”When the original nine members came together, our focus and our discussions were centered around serving our business, our company, our membership as well as servicing the communities in which we serve,” says Hoffman, who is based in Phoenix.

”From that point, we’ve kind of built on those pillars. That’s how we developed our mission and vision.”

In addition to PRIDE, Hoffman points out that Sodexo often has a presence at GLBT Pride events, including the upcoming Capital Pride celebration in D.C. in June.

According to Diversity, candidates are selected after the organization looks at several factors including: ”inclusive benefits for same-sex partners of employees, strong diversity training programs, recruitment efforts aimed at LGBT people and the vitality of the company’s LGBT employee-resource group.”

Diversity also looks at a company’s Web presence to see a visible, online commitment to the GLBT community and for links to external organizations working for GLBT equality.

According to Diversity Inc., Sodexo was selected because of the benefits offered to GLBT employees and their partners, as well as the diversity training that’s mandatory for managers, touching on topics of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Regarding Sodexo’s domestic-partnership benefits, Hoffman says, ”It’s the same benefits program that’s offered to our married or heterosexual couples. What’s noteworthy to me is that we offer the same benefits.”

To see Diversity Inc.’s full list, visit www.diversityinc.com.

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