Sodexo are celebrating International Women's Day with a range of activities to promote the gender agenda.

Female employees from non-traditional roles at Sodexo are visiting UK schools to talk about their careers and demonstrate the range of career options open to young women and men.

Seven women from a variety of roles at Sodexo are giving the presentations at a time when many students are deciding their GCSE study options.

The school visits, which are taking place over the next two weeks, are among activities organised by Sodexo to mark International Women’s Day.

On Thursday (6 March), Sodexo UK and Ireland chief executive Debbie White took part in a panel debate organised by Women 1st to promote the Think, Act, Report campaign, to which Sodexo has voluntarily signed up. Equalities Minister Helen Grant MP was the keynote speaker at the event.

Driven by the Government Equalities Office, the campaign aims to drive greater transparency on women’s workforce issues, by helping companies consider gender equality on key issues such as recruitment, retention, promotion and pay.

This Thursday (13 March), Sodexo will hold its annual Women Work conference where 150 members of Sodexo’s employee network will gather at Aston University in Birmingham to discuss the theme of ‘balance’

Among the inspirational speakers leading the debate and taking part in workshops to discuss how employees can achieve a perfect work/life balance, as well as gender balance, will be Sodexo Group chair elect Sophie Bellon.

Sodexo is committed to gender diversity and has a global aspirational target of having 25 per cent of women in senior positions by 2015 (the Sodexo UK and Ireland board is already 38 per cent women).

The Sodexo Women’s International forum for talent (Swift) drives the organisation’s gender diversity approach across the globe and is made up of 34 top female and male executives from around the world. UK and Ireland members include Sodexo Education managing director Jane Bristow, Sodexo Justice Services deputy managing director Janine McDowell and Debbie White (a Swift founder).

Jane Bristow, managing director of Sodexo Education and Swift steering committee member, said: “Sodexo has taken the lead on gender diversity in the workplace across the globe, so International Women’s Day is an excellent opportunity for us to celebrate with our employees, clients and other stakeholders. I am delighted that this year we have been able to partner with some of our clients in the education sector to inspire their pupils and breakdown gender stereotypes.

“We are committed to gender diversity right through our business. Across the globe Swift has helped to implement gender networks in more than 13 countries, and specifically in the UK and Ireland, Women Work fosters an inclusive culture and mentoring structure for our top female employees. We look forward to next week’s annual conference and continuing to drive the gender agenda.”

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