Holly Fowler: Sodexo can be a sustainability game-changer

Nature of Business radio, created and hosted by Chrissy Coughlin, is a weekly show on business and environment.

Sodexo increasingly views food as part of the larger sustainability discussion. And in this space, Sodexo has the potential to be a game changer.   

Sodexo's sustainability strategy adopted in 2009 -- The Better Tomorrow Plan -- lays out a continuous improvement approach aimed at guiding individual actions by connecting the environment, nutrition, health and wellness, and local communities. The goal is to educate employees about best practices at all sites and work through the conversation with clients.

For Holly Fowler, Sodexo's senior director of sustainability and CSR, the major challenge involves effectively embedding these topics into the daily lives of Sodexo's 130,000 employees and the locations in which it operates, including schools, health care facilities, colleges, corporate offices and government institutions.

Sodexo has a huge responsibility to carefully source food and manage energy, water and waste at client locations, Fowler said. It also must wield its influence responsibly over decision-making, both upstream with its suppliers and downstream with clients and customers.

"It's helping to negotiate all of those conversations and influence folks to practice in ways that are going to have a more sustainable result," Fowler said.

Holly FowlerEvery company, Sodexo included, faces growing pressure for transparency as people increasingly demand information about where their food comes from and how it was produced. But in reality, no system is in place to provide the kind of traceable data that consumers want.

This may be one of the main reasons that Fowler is such a proponent of strategic partnerships -- to find creative ways to get at the information they need in the most expeditious manner possible.

Fowler sees vast improvement in people's behavior, particularly with employee engagement. The sustainability message is being further spread through a variety of methods, such as consistent facilitated forums.

But the real change in behavior takes place when it gets personal. Fowler hopes corporations are ready to go when individuals catch up.

George Papoulias edited this podcast.

Images courtesy of Sodexo.