Skip to main content

One Houston Together: Member Spotlight on Sodexo's Roadmap to Global Inclusion; Updated MBE Analysis for Houston

Published Apr 13, 2022 by A.J. Mistretta

OHT Roundtable Racial Equity 4.jpg

Mia Mends with Sodexo

OHT Roundtable Racial Equity 3.jpg
OHT Roundtable Racial Equity 2.jpg

Nadeem Mazhar, Computer Technology Solutions and Ingrid Robinson, HMSDC

OHT Roundtable Racial Equity 1.jpg

Speakers at the April Supplier Diversity Roundtable

OHT Roundtable Racial Equity 5.jpg

Results from the 2021 Houston Region Equity & Inclusion Assessment showed that responsible sourcing/supplier diversity is the least mature DEI practice for our region. That’s why the Partnership’s One Houston Together initiative is making supplier diversity one of its priorities along with Talent Advancement and Board Representation. 

Local business leaders gathered at Partnership Tower in late March for the latest Supplier Diversity Roundtable discussion, which featured a presentation from Partnership Board Member and Racial Equity Committee Member Mia Mends. Mends is the Global Chief DEI Officer and CEO of Impact Ventures at Sodexo, an international facilities management and food services company with 420,000 employees worldwide. 

Mends discussed the evolution of Sodexo’s two-decades of work in diversity, equity and inclusion. “What started as a journey focused on compliance has become one of deep culture transformation and conviction because we’ve sustained this work,” she said. 

Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 plan includes specific targets across nine global commitments and objectives. These include ensuring a diverse workforce and inclusive culture that reflects and enriches the communities the company serves as well as driving diversity and inclusion as a catalyst for societal change. Mends discussed how the company establishes and meets goals in these areas. 

“When I talk about the work we do, I have to insist that this is part of the infrastructure of the company and that we cannot look at DEI as a discreet activity or initiative,” she said. “We have built a foundation that makes this work possible.” 

Making the company’s commitments and goals public means Sodexo must honor them, Mends said.

A decade ago, for example, about 22% of the company’s top leaders were female. Today, that figure has nearly doubled to 43%. “We know the formula that works because we’ve used it for gender, now we need to use it everywhere else,” Mends said. 

When it comes to supplier diversity, each country Sodexo operates in must meet a spending target of at least 25% with SMEs. In the U.S., 26.3% of Sodexo’s 2021 procurement was spent with diverse and small businesses. The company also encourages its direct vendors to contract with SMEs for what’s termed “Tier 2 spend.” Mends said 223 of Sodexo’s U.S. suppliers report Tier 2 spending with SMEs. 

By tying supplier diversity targets to an organization’s entire supply chain, you ensure DEI isn’t just a department in the corner but rather a vital part of the everyday conversation and operations. 

Partnership Senior Vice President of DEI LaTanya Flix also provided several progress updates during the Roundtable. 

The Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (HMSDC) and Customer Technology Solutions have developed an online tool aggregating local certified minority businesses (MBEs) in one database for organizations seeking diverse suppliers. The tool was demoed during the roundtable and slated to launch in coming months will allow users to search by company, industry, services provided and other criteria. MBEs will also be able to add themselves to the platform. 

Through One Houston Together, the Partnership is partnering with HMSDC on a new economic impact analysis of the region’s MBEs. The analysis was prepared in 2019 by HMSDC and will be updated for 2020 and will include data on jobs supported by Houston-area MBEs, total wages earned by those employees, total revenue of Houston MBEs, GDP impact of MBES, and the overall economic production generated by Houston-region Minority Business Enterprises. 

“This analysis establishes a baseline of the impact these businesses have in our region and helps make the case for advancing and expanding supplier diversity,” Flix said. 

Learn more about One Houston Together and the Equity & Inclusion Assessment. 
 

Related News

Racial Equity

One Houston Together: Member Spotlight on Bank of America’s Efforts to Advance Underrepresented Talent

7/29/22
As part of its ongoing effort to showcase success in the retention and advancement of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color talent, the Partnership’s One Houston Together hosted its latest roundtable discussion in July featuring a conversation with Tiffany Douglas, Global Women’s Initiative and Under-represented Talent Strategy Executive with Bank of America.   Increasing racial equity in the corporate talent pipeline and board leadership is one of the two priorities of One Houston Together alongside increasing spending with Minority Business Enterprises. The roundtable discussions are designed to share best practices and showcase Partnership members that are leading change.  Here are several key takeaways from the conversation with Tiffany Douglas at Bank of America.  Douglas’ team works with internal and external partners to help drive advocacy for women and underrepresented talent. Bank of America has an intentional strategy to ensure diverse voices and talent are at the table for more responsible growth. The goal: reflect the communities and clients the bank serves.  Douglas emphasized that it takes intentional practice to create change and improve outcomes. She shared that it’s not a question about if we do this but how the bank does it. This charge is supported by the board of directors, CEO, management team, Global Diversity & Inclusion Council, Executive Councils, Market Presidents in 92 markets, and all employee networks. The bank seeks to drive inclusion “everywhere” not just in go to market products. While approximately 40 professionals across an organization with roughly 200,000 employees are working in D&I through various lines of business and the bank’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council, Bank of America’s philosophy is that everyone is part of driving inclusion.  Bank of America uses a number of tools to assist with connecting and empowering employees across the organization including on demand online learning, virtual sessions, and mindfulness apps. The bank consistently asks for feedback to learn how and if the tools are working and to incorporate colleagues’ perspective. Another tool is the bank’s Connections page, which serves as a sort of internal social media network. Employees can fill out a profile describing their work as well as out-of-office interests, volunteer activities etc. Douglas said this helps people connect with one another on a personal level. Bank of America also provides D&I Bootcamps and Inclusive Learning opportunities for employees.  The organization hosts what it calls Let’s Get Real Conversations, virtual chat sessions that allow employees to discuss topics ranging from LGBTQ pride to women’s leadership. In 2021, the bank held 350 such conversations with thousands of views that were recorded, allowing team members that could not participate live to go back and watch later. Douglas said it’s important that such initiatives meet employees where they are, allowing them to engage when it’s convenient.  Bank of America supports mentorship both across the organization and through various lines of business and encourages colleagues to earn and ask for sponsorship relationships. Knowing the skills and aspirations of current employees gives leadership greater ability to recommend individuals for the right opportunities, whether in their current line of business or elsewhere in the company. “The more we know our talent and can understand not just what they do but who they are an what their aspirations are, the better we can move people and recommend them for opportunities. It’s not just about recruiting new talent, we have to retain the talent we already have,” she said.  Douglas said one challenge is that job titles don’t often adequately describe what a person actually does. Through mentorship and other programs, employees are encouraged to talk about what they actually do and how they do it, which in turn leads to better targeted opportunities.  When it comes to the leading factors helping advance underrepresented talent, Douglas said it’s about starting at the top and measuring and inspecting progress.  Learn more about One Houston Together and read about other case studies. 
Read More
Racial Equity

One Houston Together: Realizing Opportunity in Supplier Diversity

7/21/22
The first installment of the Partnership’s new One Houston Together webinar series focused on Opportunities in Supplier Diversity, offering insight from a new report on the impact of minority businesses in the region and perspective from a local energy company that’s launched a successful supplier diversity program.  LaTanya Flix, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Partnership, moderated the discussion and gave an overview of the structure and key objectives of One Houston Together as well as the definition of supplier diversity and its significance to our region. Ziba Mehra, Director of Purchasing, Calpine shared a corporate perspective on establishing a robust supplier diversity program.  Ingrid Robinson, President, Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (HMSDC) discussed trends and  MBE growth in the Houston region.   Roel Martinez, Vice President Research at the Partnership shared findings from the recently released Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Economic Impact Analysis, produced in collaboration with HMSDC.   Here are a few key takeaways from the conversation:  Growing spending with minority business enterprises is one of two priority areas of One Houston Together. Flix shared that the supplier diversity workstream includes a Supplier Diversity Roundtable that meets 4-5 times a year, as well as a newly established Houston Buyer Cohort and a Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) Convening. “We have one big goal: to help make Houston one of the most equitable and inclusive business communities in the country,” Flix said.  Martinez highlighted key findings of the recently published Houston MBE Economic Impact Analysis. MBEs are defined as businesses that are at least 51% owned, managed or controlled by Black, Hispanic, Asian Indian, Asian Pacific or Native American individuals. The report found that:  771 certified MBEs are operating in metro Houston across 18 different sectors, with the largest number in professional services.  The vast majority of these companies are operating in the business-to-business arena and nearly half have revenues of $1 million or more annually.  Collectively these companies reported revenues totaling $8.2 billion in 2020.  Correlations between revenue and employee counts and industry sector, race and revenue. While the report focused on data from 2020, Robinson said HMSDC is seeing significant growth in the number of certified MBEs, which totaled 850 companies at the end of last year. And while most of the newly launched businesses are in the professional services sector, there’s also growing diversity in the sectors represented, Robinson said. “I definitely see more growth happening this year as well, including more interest in places like energy transition where there’s a lot of excitement.”  Robinson said the largest opportunity for growth is in what’s called the middle market or secondary supplier space where prime suppliers working with large corporations can develop partnerships with growing MBEs. “We have aggressive near and long-term goals,” she said, adding that Houston is well positioned thanks to its diversity and robust business community to set the standard for the nation.  Robinson reminded the audience that while many MBEs are small businesses, that doesn’t mean they lack capacity or are unable to meet the demands of major purchasers. Capacity is often among the leading concerns of companies beginning a supplier diversity effort. “It’s one of the mind shifts we have to make,” said Robinson.  HMSDC recently launched a new tool designed to help area companies find qualified MBEs for their purchasing needs. The Diverse Business Finder website allows companies to search for suppliers by category, location, keyword and more.  Mehra with Calpine discussed the energy company’s effort that launched in 2020 to significantly increase spending with minority businesses. With buy-in from senior leadership and a structured approach to developing metrics and goals tied to the program, Calpine’s supplier diversity efforts resulted in several award nominations. “Running a successful supplier diversity program requires a strong commitment and dedicated resources,” she said. “Engagement and communication are definite keys to success.”    Learn more about the work of One Houston Together.   
Read More

Related Events

Demography

Houston DiverseCity Summit

The Greater Houston Partnership proudly presents the Houston DiverseCity Summit, an inspiring one-day convening to advance equity and inclusion in the greater Houston region. This gathering of leading professionals…

Learn More
Learn More