Today, Sodexo, a leading global services company, hosted a breakfast event at the company’s London headquarters on the subject of Modern Racism in the Workplace in recognition of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

The event brought together a range of experts, practitioners and interested parties from across industries to explore the attitude change and actions need to promote increased comfort in discussing the topic. 

The event was conceived in an era when getting race equality right in the UK is worth £24bn per year to the UK economy, (1.3% of GDP) [1].

Raj Verma, Senior Vice President Human Resources Corporate Services Worldwide and Global Executive Sponsor for Local Minorities - Cultures and Origins, opened the event sharing Sodexo’s approach and announcing the launch of its global report ‘Addressing Culture and Origins across the Globe’ which features Sodexo UK’s Faith Initiative in HM Prison Bronzefield, ‘Faith Behind Bars.

Audience members heard from Professor Binna Kandola OBE, author, business psychologist and co-founder of Pearn Kandola, on modern racism, the ways in which it can manifest and the actions organisations can take.

A panel featuring Romeo Effs, a leading diversity and inclusion thinker and Managing Director at INvolve, Sandra Kerr OBE Race Equality Director Business in the Community and Karen Pleva, Global Head of Pharma and Life Sciences at Sodexo. The panel explored what organisations are doing, lessons we could learn from their experiences and how progress could be accelerated.

Professor Kandola OBE said: “Sodexo’s approach to this topic is to be commended. Their approach combines intellectual rigour, geographical breadth and pragmatism, whilst also recognising the need for organisations to collaborate if we really want to make progress happen quicker. This event has provided a fantastic forum to discuss what it is going to take to become comfortable having uncomfortable conversations so that we can start to improve the experiences and opportunities for those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.”

Sandra Kerr OBE of Business in the Community, The Prince’s Responsible Business Network added: “I was delighted to be invited to be part of the panel sharing the research Business in the Community has done and how we are partnering with organisations across a range of sectors on this agenda.  Change will take time and events like this provide an opportunity to share experiences and learn from one another as we work towards the shared goal of increasing the representation of BAME individuals in the workplace.”

Summing up, Meg Horsburgh, Head of Diversity & Inclusion UK & Ireland and Global Disability Leader said, “Like many organisations, we want to increase BAME representation in our business and today’s event was a great opportunity to promote collaboration on what we see as societal as well as a business issue.”



From left to right:

  • Romeo Effs - Global Managing Director, INvolve
  • Raj Verma -  Sodexo Senior Vice President Human Resources Corporate Services Worldwide and Sodexo Global Executive Sponsor for Local Minorities - Cultures and Origins
  • Sandra Kerr - Race Equality Director, BITC
  • Meg Horsburgh - Sodexo Head of Diversity & Inclusion UK & Ireland and Sodexo Global Disability Leader
  • Karen Pleva - Sodexo Global Head of Pharma and Life Sciences
  • Professor Binna Kandola OBE - Senior Partner and co-founder, Pearn Kandola


[1] Let’s Talk About Race, BiTC, The Prince’s Responsible Business Network

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