CASE STUDY: Sodexo
Sodexo’s social impact pledge included a commitment to ensuring over 40 per cent of Sodexo’s spend is with SME and VCSE suppliers, leaving a lasting legacy in communities across the UK. In fact, SMEs represent over half of Sodexo’s core supply chain. It then proactively helps these SMEs grow and develop, for example with over £2,000,000 gifted through the apprenticeship levy.
Sodexo has implemented a Regional Buyer programme where FM vendors are appointed and managed on a regional basis. Regional buyers connect with SMEs within region; provide support and guidance; and invite SMEs to meet the buyer events and tendering opportunities.
While being the right thing to do from a social purpose point of view, the diversity this has created in Sodexo’s supply chain has also been crucial for resilience.
Sodexo organises a specific programme dedicated to SMEs, providing an understanding of how large organisations work, their requirements and how to engage and grow business. Its supplier support programme to SMEs includes:
1 apprenticeship levy gifting. 41 organisations have been supported in recent years, creating 121 new apprenticeships;
2 influencing its Tier 1 suppliers to deliver prompt payment to Tier 2 SMEs. This has been a collaborative venture: Sodexo asked strategic partners in the supply chain to join it and pay their SME suppliers at 30 days, and supported them with the tools and process required;
3 helping suppliers reduce carbon emissions and achieve Net Zero targets. For example Sodexo recently supported and endorsed an SME supplier, The Soho Sandwich Company, when they made radical changes to their packaging so they could achieve measurable waste reduction;
4 workshops on issues like modern slavery; and
5 a mentoring programme. A supplier will approach Sodexo with a brief which will then be passed to a relevant internal expert. They can then be placed on a structured six-month mentoring programme. For instance, if a supplier is thinking of developing a social media strategy for the next year, Sodexo can align it with one of its social media experts to guide and monitor it. This allows smaller businesses to develop in ways which suit their needs.
Sodexo also updated its supplier on-boarding and review process to capture organisational leadership/ownership. This enabled Sodexo to identify diverse enterprises, and Sodexo has begun to monitor spend with these entities to gain a clearer picture of its supply chain landscape and provide measurement of progress in its diversity and inclusion initiatives.
In 2021 it joined a number of other high-profile businesses in the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, run by Social Enterprise UK. The initiative aims to bring together corporate partners from a range of industries with a collective ambition to spend £1 billion on social enterprises. Currently Sodexo works with 128 social enterprises/charities which accounts for £8.9 million in spend.
Further information: Supporting our SME suppliers (sodexo.com)