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Raj Verma

At Sodexo, Raj is the Executive Sponsor for Ethnicity and sits on the Culture & Origins Advisory Board, pushing for a clearer, pragmatic and more results-driven approach to initiatives. He encouraged Sodexo to sign up to the Empower Ethnic Pay Audit charter, and has driven the need to share best practice throughout the industry. He has often been invited to speak publicly on D&I topics, and mentors numerous colleagues. Raj was appointed to the Board of Trustees at Banardo’s, increasing board diversity. With 20% of the charity’s service users coming from a BAME background, Raj visibly supports their program of events to engage with wider BAME and Faith audiences.

Raj Verma

As a British born Sikh, Raj was Sodexo’s first ethnic minority global senior vice president in human resources, and continues to be very visible across the organisation. Over the past 12 months, he has voluntarily coached chairs of the Cultures & Origins ERG. He regularly presents at conferences and panels and is a member of Sodexo’s Culture & Origins Advisory Board, leading the workstream on local minorities. Raj encouraged Sodexo to sign up to the EMpower Ethnic Pay Audit charter and is sponsoring the firm’s first national local minorities event. He participates in numerous mentoring schemes and has been appointed to the steering committee of the Warwick University Business School Mentoring programme. He continues to make presentations at schools and universities on different subjects to a cross-section of backgrounds. He was appointed as the first BAME board director of a property management company in the local area and hopes to provide visibility at grassroots level, so ethnic minority leaders are not seen as unusual.

Amolak Dhariwal

A British-born Sikh, Amolak leads as Co-Chair of the Origins network in Sodexo UK & Ireland. Through this role he has been instrumental in developing a number of initiatives, including: creating a much more focused members network to drive forward the BAME agenda, and launching pod and webcasts where senior managers talk about their careers and what BAME means for them. At the recent Inclusion conference, Amolak acted as compere during the event which included introducing a staff network panel discussion and raising the profile of the Origins network, to an audience of 250 people. He has also promoted on-line training modules including: ‘understanding bias’ and ‘Race-creating an inclusive workplace’ for all teams across Sodexo UK & Ireland.  Externally, Amolak has recently become a governor at a local academy to encourage the understanding and development of the BAME agenda, and has established close links with other organisations outside Sodexo to help understand best practice in this area.

Stephen Marshall

Recently promoted to Head of Digital Communications, Stephen also is co-chair of the Sodexo Cultures and Origins Employee Network, through which he has created strategies focusing on learning and development, cultural awareness, managers’ information, and organisational change. He has also launched a Sodexo-wide campaign called “My culture and me”, which aims to create a more inclusive workplace by raising cultural awareness of different BAME backgrounds. Stephen led the implementation of Your_Sodexo, an employee facing website in the UK and Ireland, and he is now spearheading its development into a global project across Brazil, Australia, the Netherlands and France. Recently, Stephen was instrumental in creating a podcast with a senior BAME leader from Sodexo, talking about role models in the workplace and the community. Outside of work, Stephen has been working towards a professional coaching and mentoring qualification, with the goal of becoming a mentor both in and out of work. He also works with Springboard, OCM, Spark Life, and is very keen to expose young BAME people to the workplace.

Mia Mends

As CEO of Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, USA, Mia leads the strategic evolution and growth of the business, with a focus on delivering outcome-based employee engagement solutions through recognition and well-being programmes and platforms. She also serves on Sodexo’s North America Regional Committee, where she has brought emphasis to corporate synergies initiatives by identifying ways to more cohesively integrate Sodexo’s various client solutions.
Mia has been a long-time champion of minorities and has used her influence in several ways to both nurture and highlight their contributions. While at Harvard Business School, she spoke out about the lack of ethnic and gender diversity among case study protagonists in the curriculum, and decided to address it by partnering with a professor and Oprah Winfrey to co-author a ground-breaking business case on her life and business.
In her current role, Mia has been able to define and articulate a vision around which the organization is inspired to act and she is proud of her ability to marshal the resources and assets that will lead to future growth. The human aspect of her role is fundamental and by being authentic and compassionate, she has promoted an environment where others act similarly, which enables productivity and organizational engagement.

Harbhajan Brar

In his current position, Harbhajan is the HR Director responsible for Sodexo UK & Ireland Corporate Services, which includes more than 10,000 employees delivering facilities management services for 271 clients.
Harbhajan is a member of the D&I council and workstream leader for Culture and Origins, one of the six focus areas within the D&I Strategy. In this role he has worked with the D&I team to set aspirational demographics targets for management population in regards to BAME representation and is working with the recruitment team to ensure best practices are implemented. Harbhajan has also assisted the development of dashboards identifying adverse impact within the HR lifecycle and was a key panellist at launch of the ‘Origins’, employee network which aims to encourage inclusivity and cohesion by celebrating the diversity of culture, heritage and beliefs amongst Sodexo’s people and by promoting equal opportunities for all.
On a global basis, Harbhajan has been involved in reviewing a course designed to assist senior leaders with navigating different cultures as part of Sodexo’s global transformation and closer to home has influenced the delivery of unconscious bias training to both the UKI Executive Team and the CS leadership teams. He has had a long-standing commitment to mentoring recognising the positive impact this can have on mentees, many of whom have been from BAME backgrounds and a number of whom are now undertaking Director level roles. He has recorded a role model podcast as part of Origins network discussing his career history, lessons learnt and advice to others which is accessible to all network members.