Even companies that are committed to diversity can find themselves on the receiving end of an employee class action lawsuit charging race, sex, or age discrimination. After the dust has settled, though, these companies sometimes find themselves motivated even beyond court requirements to re-evaluate their employment policies and make changes in their diversity practices. Two corporations-Sodexho Services Inc. and Citigroup Inc.-agreed to discuss their actions after experiencing employee-initiated class action lawsuits. Their ability to create a positive outcome from a challenging experience is an inspiring lesson for all companies.
"It's [diversity] a part of how we can win the battle for talent. By being a diversity elite company and by creating an inclusive work environment, we can create an atmosphere where everyone can succeed, engage fully, and provide culturally competent services for our clients and customers. In fact, other companies need to get on board with diversity and inclusion, or they're going to become dinosaurs." Dr. Rohini Anand-Sodexho
SODEXHO IMPLEMENTS INNOVATION IN DIVERSITY
In 2001, African American managers of food service management company Sodexho, based in Gaithersburg, Md., filed a class action lawsuit charging racial bias. Sodexho is an international food services company specializing in cafeterias, business catering, office coffee services, and non-food support such as laundries, housekeeping, and concierge services. Without admitting to wrongdoing, Sodexho settled the case for $80 million and signed a consent degree, a voluntary agreement between parties to a suit in which the defendant agrees to cease activities alleged by the government to be illegal, in return for an end to the charges.
- KATHLEEN DREESSEN