• Vivian Liang

Interview with Normand St-Gelais & Meghan Kelly

Normand St-Gelais: Director of Corporate Responsibility (Diversity and Inclusion, Sustainability & Stop Hunger Foundation at Sodexo


Meghan Kelly: CCRW National Manager



How does Sodexo specifically help its staff with disabilities? What are the ways Sodexo has taken to make its workplace disability friendly?


Mr. St-Gelais:

Globally, Sodexo has decided to touch five dimensions of diversity: gender, LGBT community which I am a part of, generations, culture & origin, and disabilities. We have done lots of work with disabled communities, supporting them, making sure they have access to the resources they need.



Ms. Kelly:

Sodexo has taken proactive approaches to ensure the work they have done with the disability community contributes to a culture of trust and employee engagement, while attracting the talents and skills needed for the success of business. It recognizes the need for accessible communication to ensure that employees with disabilities have confidence to identify any needs or accommodations they have are accessible to them. Sodexo has a workplace culture of proactively including disabled employees, which is represented in the entire employment.


Mr. St-Gelais:

The biggest goal is to have an inclusive culture. We are not perfect, but I think we have done a good job on the awareness campaign. Like what Ms. Kelly said, we have mentoring day for people with disabilities, a campaign to raise awareness of the disability community in our workplace. We also collaborate with organizations like CCRW, and host different events, webinars and training to ensure the disability-inclusive atmosphere in our workplace.


The biggest challenge for employees is trying to understand the multiplicities of disabilities, brain injury being an invisible one.


As for accessible communication, what are some of the examples of the accessible measures taken in Sodexo for disability employees?


Ms. Kelly:

Because of the nature of partnership between CCRW and Sodexo, we have been able to take an inside look into Sodexo’s accessibility measures. Sodexo has been using multiple platforms to ensure that the message can be delivered to all of our employees. We have been ensuring the transparency of messages through Sodexo’s Sodexonet, recognizing the opportunities for training.

Sodexo also recognizes that accessible communication is important for attracting candidates through job posting, ensuring that no talents are hindered by inaccessibility.


Sodexo recognizes that online communication is not equal to accessible communication. Where are the gaps? How can we ensure the communication is available to people everywhere? Sodexo has been going above and beyond to rectify that opportunities can reach to everyone who has the skills and talents and the interests to be a part of sodexo in canada.


There are opportunities internally for accessible communication, and Sodexo is also proactively working on accessible communication externally to ensure that they are available to everyone.


Mr. St-Gelais:

There are also other examples. For instance, in our online webinars, we try to have subtitles for those in need, which is also the reason why our interview today is conducted through Microsoft Team. In all of our videos, we have also incorporated different languages and subtitles to ensure accessible communication.


Ms. Kelly:

When we have virtual opportunities, we always ask if anyone requires a specific accommodation to participate. I would say that is a standard practice at Sodexo to ask such questions.


What is the process of hiring people with disability like in Sodexo? Are there any certain criteria that Sodexo would assess on when hiring people with disabilities?


Mr. St-Gelais:

I would say it is the same for hiring all employees. We make sure that they have qualities and skills we are looking for, doesn't matter if they are disabled.


Ms.Kelly:

Sodexo has ensured that the talent they are attracting can be their best selves at work.

For there to be a different process means certain level of disclosure, which goes back to what we mentioned before, which is that Sodexo strives to form a work culture of trust, ensuring that there is disability confidence built in the process, which can be told from its strategic partnership with CCRW , and other disability specific organizations.


What measures does the company take to those who do not contribute to Sodexo’s inclusive atmosphere?


Mr. St-Gelais: I will say we attract people who have the same ideals. Because of the work we have, I believe we help them to be more inclusive. The work we do on every dimension helps our interviewees to become more inclusive, if they were not already.


Ms. Kelly: Sodexo has been a part of Canada’s disability working conference, a conference around disability in Canada which CCRW is a part of. By speaking at the conference and having a presence at the conference, Sodexo ensures the messages from the conference are brought back to the workplace.


Thus, I would say that Sodexo is attracting those who have the same inclusive ideals, but at the same time providing sufficient tools for education and awareness to its employees.


Impact goes beyond. When employees feel supported, they choose to disclose not only to their managers, but to their co-workers as well, which may impact other individuals’ feelings of engagement, going on to support others. This is how we create a culture of inclusion.



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