Leadership award highlights the importance of inclusive workplaces

Global France-owned service company Sodexo is one company improving inclusiveness and diversity in its Australian workplaces.

So much so that Sodexo’s Pilbara East Regional General Manager, Milan Novakovic won the Leadership in Diversity award at the Facility Management Association’s FM Industry Awards for Excellence 2021, held in December last year.

Sponsored by International Day of People with Disability, the Leadership in Diversity award recognises outstanding commitment and leadership across the sector to advocate for minority groups, including people with disability, and achieve a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Milan supports the operations and service delivery of one of the company’s largest mining contracts in Western Australia, and says he’s extremely proud of winning the prestigious award.

“Inclusion is something I’m deeply passionate about and I’m proud to work for a company which feels the same way,” Milan says.

“Winning this award highlights the importance of fostering a diverse workforce and ensuring people feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.”

Sodexo has operated in Australia since the 80s and currently has 300 sites that employ more than 5,000 people across the country. The company’s various areas include facility management, catering, transport, concierge services, security and asset maintenance and hospitality services.

Some of the diversity work Sodexo is doing domestically and globally is in relation to employees with disability.

Sodexo Australia Head of Indigenous Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion, Jacqui Bainbridge says that by 2025, the company is committed to making sure 100 per cent of their workforce is able to access initiatives that support people with disability.

“This includes challenging stereotypes around people with disability, making more positions available for people with disability, and reviewing ways that we work, including reasonable adjustments,” Jacqui says.

One of Sodexo’s initiatives has been working with Impact 21, an organisation that supports people with Down syndrome, to create pathways into the organisation.

“We offer work experience opportunities for people with Down syndrome, which then lead to an internship, with the ultimate aim of interns finding long term employment with us,” Jacqui says.

The organisation strives to support all types of disability, including invisible disability, and the mental health and wellbeing of its employees.

“We know within our organisation there’s going to be more people with disability than are willing to disclose because they are invisible,” Jacqui says.

“We also know we’re going to have a lot of carers of people with disability.

“So since 2017, we have really broadened awareness of people with disability to include invisible disability as part of that commitment, very much from a safety focus but also from a zero harm in the workplace perspective.”

Sodexo is also a member of the Valuable 500 initiative, which comprises CEOs from some of the world’s largest employers, who are committed to challenging biases and working together as a collective to drive change on a global scale.

“Our Disability Voice Taskforce is a cross-geographical work group who share best practice and learnings, manage partnerships and develop global awareness campaigns,” Jacqui says.

“But more than that they really challenge each of our countries to look at their practices and ensure that we are being more inclusive for people with disability.”

To learn more about Sodexo, visit www.sodexo.com

For more information about the Facility Management Association and their industry awards, visit www.fma.com.au

Milan Novakovic
Milan Novakovic with the Leadership in Diversity award
Milan and Sodexo team
The Sodexo team at the 2021 FM Industry Awards for Excellence