To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, Sodexo, a leading global services company, is launching a work-shadowing scheme for female ex-offenders to gain skills that will help them back into employment.

40 service users from Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) operated by Sodexo have been matched with ambassadors across a range of service areas as part of the company’s SheWorks programme.

SheWorks was launched internally in Sodexo UK & Ireland in 2019 to introduce women to new job opportunities they may not have previously considered.

2020 marks the first time Sodexo has opened the programme up to ex-offenders, with placements taking place across facilities management and catering areas of Sodexo during March.

Janine McDowell, CEO Sodexo Justice and member of Sodexo’s global advisory board on promoting the advancement of women, said: “We know how important a stable environment is to reduce the risk of reoffending, and regular employment is key to this, with figures showing the likelihood of reoffending dropping by between six and nine per cent for ex-offenders who secure a job.

“There are a number of barriers ex-offenders face when trying to secure employment, so schemes like SheWorks can be invaluable. Our staff work closely with programme participants to make sure they have the right support to succeed in their placement. 

Feedback so far from placement sites has been overwhelmingly positive, with many saying how they see this as an opportunity to identify potential permanent employees, showing how SheWorks is a fantastic opportunity to help improve gender balance in the workplace, and continue adding value to the communities in which we work.

During the inaugural campaign launched globally for International Women’s Day 2019, SheWorks provided job-shadowing opportunities for 295 women in 20 countries. 

In the UK & Ireland, previous participants have successfully applied for promotions, apprenticeships and qualifications as a direct result of their involvement in the scheme.

Meg Horsburgh, Head of Diversity and Inclusion and Corporate Responsibility at Sodexo UK & Ireland, added: “We are delighted to extend the SheWorks programme to CRC service users this year after a successful internal initiative last year. 

“The beauty of this programme is that it has been largely driven by our employee network for gender inclusion, SoTogether, made up of colleagues who want to take action for a better tomorrow, enabled by the business.

We are confident that these placements will be beneficial for both the CRC candidates and the ambassadors, and we hope to extend this scheme in the future.

Sodexo UK & Ireland was recognised in the Times Top 50 employers for women for the sixth time in 2019, and has a global aspiration to have between 40-60% female representation in senior leadership positions, after the company’s own 2018 study found that gender balanced management teams scored higher on five key performance indicators, including operating margins, safety, and client retention. Read the full report on our website.

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