By Ashu Sharma, Account Manager (Healthcare), Diversity & Inclusion Champion
I grew up in a family of strong women. They taught me to be driven, study hard and to fight for my dreams.
After joining Sodexo, I knew quickly this place was the right fit for me. Here, I’m able to take my ambitions further, thanks to the company’s strong commitment to Diversity & Inclusion.
What this means: anyone, regardless of gender, colour and background, has every opportunity to thrive in the company. I was grateful to have experienced this first-hand.
At the beginning, I came on board as a dietitian. But the vastness of healthcare operations intrigued me – I wanted to learn more, do more, be more.
I knew that to grow my career, I had to raise my hand about it.
The open-minded culture meant I could easily have this conversation with my superior. I did not have to worry about gender biases or being laughed off because I did not have prior experience.
The bottom line was, “if you can prove your worth, you can achieve anything in this company”.
With gradual steps and sheer dedication over a year and a half, I moved to an operational role with Sodexo Singapore’s first healthcare account at a national hospital.
That was 2011. Now in 2018, I’m the account manager for a women’s and children’s hospital, managing a team of 90 employees in food services, quality and safety and dietetics. If I didn’t feel empowered to chart my career the way I wanted, this probably would never have happened.
We are a company that looks after women.
Not only does Sodexo support our unique ambitions and grow our potential, this organisation values womanhood and everyone’s work-life balance. Most importantly, the most senior stakeholders endorse this mind-set.
For many of us who have young children at home, we don’t worry about asking for a couple of hours off to take the kids to the doctor or to settle urgent family matters.
Subconsciously, we return this favour by being more productive and more loyal to the company. This hits you at an emotional level.
With my team now, it is my aim to replicate the same atmosphere that I had been exposed to. Everyone should feel safe to air their aspirations and problems.
For example, a food server on the team fell pregnant. She was worried about coping with the physical demands of the job but didn’t want to stop working. We looked at the available options and found an open role that suited her circumstances beter.
Diversity and Inclusion is always a work in progress.
D&I is fundamental and imperative, but it is never just about making up the numbers to show gender balance. When done right, we provide a reassuring environment for everyone to give their best and feel fulfilled by their work.
Through our training sessions to middle and senior managers, we discussed ways to maintain and improve work-life balance, retain female staff, how to help groups of people grow in the organisation and how else we can bring diversity to the workplace.
At Sodexo, we have created a great foundation for D&I, and the conversation is never going to stop.