Michael Landel

Businesses Must Enter ‘Gender-Balance Zone’

Gender Balance Zone picSodexo proves gender balance is a boon for everything from employee engagement to the bottom line.

By Eve Tahmincioglu

Sodexo Group CEO Michel Landel took his call for gender balance to the Harvard Business Review in an article this month titled “Why Gender Balance Can’t Wait.”

Michel Landel, SodexoAccording to Landel, an invariable link exists between gender diversity and better business performance:

“The case can’t be clearer — gender balance in business can’t be labeled purely a women’s issue or a matter of diversity for diversity’s sake. It’s an economic issue, and addressing it can benefit business and economic performance, thereby impacting all stakeholders.”

He backed up this claim with the preliminary results from an internal study by Sodexo released earlier this month, titled “Gender-Balanced Teams Linked to Better Business Performance.” (Sodexo is No. 5 on The 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity)

Sodexo defines gender balance as a male-female ratio between 40 and 60 percent and looked specifically at the correlation between gender-balance teams and performance. That 20 percentile sweet spot is what Sodexo refers to as “The Gender-Balance Zone.”

The report analyzed key business performance indicators from 100 global entities and 50,000 managers in 80 countries, from the corner offices to site management, looking initially at employee engagement, brand awareness, client retention and three financial performance indicators.

What they found was clear: “Diversity is key to enhanced performance.”

The report states:

Teams at Sodexo within the optimum gender-balanced zone have experienced on average an increase of four points in the global engagement rate versus only one point for other teams between 2010 and 2012. Similar correlations are found with other business metrics, including:

  • Brand Awareness:
 5% higher for gender-balanced teams
  • Client Retention:
 12% higher for gender-balanced teams
  • Organic Growth:
 13% higher for gender-balanced teams
  • Gross Profit:
 23% higher for gender-balanced teams

The company is so committed to the concept of gender balance that earlier this month they posted a promotional video on the issue:

So is the gender-balance zone still a fantasy for Sodexo?

“In order to achieve this optimal gender balance ratio, organizations must have a proactive policy in terms of recruitment and promotion, but also offer a healthy work environment conducive to the development and advancement of women,” explained Elisabeth Carpentier, Sodexo Group’s chief human resources officer.

Here’s a Sodexo gender-balance breakdown, highlighting its significant growth over just six years:

Sodexo gender balance chart 1

“Sodexo has long since considered gender balance as a strategic issue,” said Landel. “While it has always been our conviction that a clear link exists between gender balance and performance, our internal study gives us the numbers to provide an in-depth understanding of the range of this impact.”


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