Sodexo Employees with Disabilities Are Changing Perceptions by Defying Stereotypes

August 8, 2016

Perfect attendance and better safety compliance, means more value for organizations like Sodexo that are proactive in hiring differently-abled candidates.

Michael Black tells everyone that he feels lucky to work for Sodexo, world leader in Quality of Life Services. Michael is employed with Sodexo’s food service team at the headquarters of Canada’s largest grocery chain, Loblaws. He works in the dish room doing general cleaning duties for the cafeteria that feeds 4,000 Loblaw staff each day. So why does Michael feel so fortunate? Michael is hearing impaired and never imagined that he could get a job where he is a highly valued team member.

The Sodexo team, led by General Manager, Sean Callaghan, includes a significant number of people with disabilities, including spectrum disorders and physical and mental disabilities. Loblaw is a true partner in supporting Sodexo’s position on employing differently-abled team members.

When Callaghan first decided to work with a local agency to hire employees with disabilities, he was concerned about increased risks to health and safety as well as increased costs to provide accommodations. What he found was the opposite. In the past year, his employees with disabilities had 100% attendance records compared to the rest of his staff which had an 83% attendance record. As for workplace injuries, there was only one report from this group compared to 15 from staff without disabilities.

What started out as giving back to the community and simply doing the right thing has become a good business decision. “Everybody wins,” Callaghan said. “While the job brings value to these employees’ daily lives, they are of great value to the business. Their reliability and positive attitudes are contagious. The workplace is more upbeat because of their contributions and our customers experience that.”

Callaghan recently won a Champion’s League Award for leadership in breaking down barriers to employment for people who have a physical or mental disability. The award, given annually by the Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN), honors business leaders who understand the productivity and morale benefits of hiring individuals who have a disability and take direct action to advance inclusion in their workplace.

Let’s not forget the benefit to the staff with disabilities. Michael Black signed, “If it wasn’t for this opportunity, I’d be home just sitting around playing computer games.” And that’s not all—Michael recently proposed to fellow team mate, Denika Taitt, also hearing impaired. The two are now engaged to be married.


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