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.

Chris Carr

Since 2006, Chris has been actively involved with the Starbucks Black Partner Network, and for the past several years works as executive sponsor for their Global Inclusion Council. He is also on the Executive Leadership Council, the preeminent member organisation for the development of global black leaders. Through these, Chris has been involved in CEO race relations discussions, Starbucks’ Pathway to Opportunities Agenda, Opportunity Youth Job Fairs, and participated in executive roundtables to address unconscious bias. Outside of the workplace, he volunteers with a number of organisations who specialise in developing best practice or BAME people in the workplace. These include, membership of the National Black MBA Association, the Executive Leadership Council, the University of San Diego Emerging Leaders Council, the National Minority Supplier Development Council, and appointment to the Howard University Board of Trustees.

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.

James Taylor

James Taylor is CEO of Healthcare for Sodexo UK & Ireland leading 7,000 employees at 100 NHS and private healthcare sites. He is ultimately responsible for NHS and private clients in the healthcare sector, in addition to running the Tillery Valley Foods manufacturing site in Wales and Home Service, a meals-on-wheels service in London and the South East.
James is a founding member of Sodexo’s Diversity Leadership Council, which heavily contributed to Sodexo being ranked #1 or #2 with DiversityInc for the past four consecutive years, and receiving the top diversity award from Catalyst. He is a trusted advisor on Diversity and Inclusion at the highest levels within Sodexo. In March 2005, working with the Office of the President, he directed the response to a class action lawsuit. Charged with fulfilling obligations on behalf of class members, he assisted in creating a Diversity Scorecard to measure how the company hires, promotes and retains diversity.
James was the Chair of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) ERG that focuses on providing growth and development opportunities for African American managers across the organization.