Corporate and social responsibility represent critical intersections of systemic issues.

By Jessica Synkoski, Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (North America)

The healthcare industry is a major consumer of resources; and healthcare organizations have a significant energy footprint. These issues are systemic. And, in order to address them, organizations must work together to implement solutions to the root causes of these problems.  

Recently, MATTER, in collaboration with Green Innovation and AWA Denmark, released their in-depth white paperThe Business Case for a Circular Medtech Sector, outlining sustainable solutions and their imperative for the healthcare industry. To draw more discussion on this powerful paper, I was privileged to be invited to a virtual event on Earth Day to discuss Sodexo’s award-winning sustainability and social responsibility practices in healthcare.

During the virtual event on Earth Day, representatives from Novo Nordisk as well as a new start-up, Genecis, spoke about their sustainability innovations. These different organizations participating in the event demonstrates a critical component of addressing sustainability solutions: organizations of any size have the responsibility for implementing solutions.

“Healthcare organizations must work together to implement solutions to the root causes of these problems.”

Sodexo has been committed to corporate and social responsibility for decades. This commitment is part of our core values. What’s coming to light in recent years is how much each of these pieces are interconnected. 2020 was the year of major, global, systemic issues coming to broader public awareness – systemic issues that must be addressed systemically.

Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 initiative addresses the many dimensions of improving quality of life for the individual, the community, and the globe. When we tackle climate change, we must also attend to the related social issues. When we’re identifying individual health needs, we must address the economics of reducing disease. 

Making change in partnership with other organizations is key. We can’t improve access to healthcare without addressing the social determinants of health. We can’t solve the food insecurity crisis without addressing food waste. We look across the gamut of solutions.

And there’s good news. Solutions are most successful when they’re implemented across organizations in partnership, but there are solutions available to all the players in the system.

For example, Sodexo has determined the broad impact that plant-forward dining has on individual health, environmental impact, animal welfare, and financial investment.  We’re broadening and intensifying our focus on plant-based and plant-forward food because we know this has multiple positive impacts on the environment, society, and the market. The added benefit of this solution is that it’s scalable. Every person can make changes – of any size and scope – to lean into plant-forward meals. And in our locations we’re making the choice an easy one with plant-based menus, education, and support along the continuum of health.

Sodexo takes a holistic approach. We introduced more educational tools and programs with an emphasis on plant-based dining. Maintaining the taste factor is key to changing behaviors to more plant-based eating. We host launch parties, tastings, and educational events to encourage habits. In just one year, over 200 new plant-based recipes were developed and Sodexo joined forces with the Humane Society to prepare more humane menus. We’ve also done studies on how to name these items on the menu.

The entire program sits at the intersection of several initiatives overlapping corporate responsibility and sustainability. Encouraging wellness, promoting plant-forward diets, community engagement, and diversity, equity and inclusion are all integrated into this work. We’ve had over 1,500 educational events and farm tours and cooking demonstrations, and we’ve donated over 2,000 pounds of produce to local food pantries.

Sodexo has been awarded several times by EcoVadis, Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, Bloomberg, and Diversity Inc., and others for the impacts made by the centrality of the Better Tomorrow 2025 plan within operations. We’re very proud to be recognized for the impact of our individual programs, but we’re even more proud of the real impact we’re able to have by working with our partners toward our corporate and social responsibility goals.

June 03, 2021

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