By Leslie Milinkovic and Steve Pangburn

Throughout the pandemic, we have all needed to focus on our mental health and wellbeing more than ever before. We have been forced to look inward, connecting more intimately with those closest to us – our immediate friends, family and colleagues. While the pandemic is not over, circumstances have shifted. It is essential that we continue to practice self-care and compassion, yet we know must also look “outward” again. In doing so, we must also become aware of the hardships facing those among us.

Further, at the nation's largest companies, the diversity in top jobs is also vastly out of sync with the broader population. White workers are 64% of the nation's workforce, while Hispanic workers are 16.8% and Black workers are 11.2%, according to U.S. Census data.

Bridging this gap starts with becoming more intentional in making stronger connections with colleagues and identifying opportunities to serve in our communities. This is precisely what SOL (Sodexo Organization of Latinos), our Employee Business Resource Group, is setting out to do during Hispanic Heritage Month.

As Executive Sponsors, we are pleased to bring to life SOL’s theme “Personal Commitment to Advance our Communities.” In a pragmatic sense, this means volunteerism – the donation of time, money, and goods that serve to improve the quality of life of the recipients. There is no shortage of opportunities to support efforts to enhance mental health, safety, and access to food and housing for thousands of people.

A chain of positive events happens from the time the decision of volunteering is made until long after it ends. Beyond the positive impacts for those being served, volunteers themselves receive much in return to include leadership development, empathy and emotional intelligence, along with a sense of gratitude for their own circumstances.

At Sodexo, we have several initiatives that bolster the communities we serve.

For example, since 1999, Sodexo’s Stop Hunger Foundation has been mobilizing employees, clients, and customers to address worldwide food insecurity. In 2020 in the U.S. alone, more than four million meals were distributed though the Foundation. In addition, SOL partnered with The Hispanic Star to donate 10,000 mask and pieces of PPE to their hubs across the country.

Further, we currently:

  1. Provide the opportunity to educate our diverse ranks of Latinx team members through learning, leadership and fostering connections. SOL is living proof, and we will continue to expand membership in the years ahead as we conduct focus groups and listening sessions to better understand wants and needs.
  2. Are seeking to foster a stronger overall connection for Sodexo with the Latino community.
  3. Are creating creative opportunities for employees to share their life experiences, either through food or other pieces of their respective culture.

Through generous volunteerism, we can lift up those around us while infusing our own lives with greater meaning.

With this in mind, we ask that you honor Hispanic Heritage Month and #makethetime to volunteer for causes that support the Hispanic/Latinx community. Please share your plan on your social media platforms, tag @SodexoUSA and use the hashtag #makethetime.

August 25, 2021