Two Irish senior executives working for Sodexo, Aoife Wycherly and Deirdre Saunders, have been recognised as role models in the UK’s ‘Women to Watch & Role Models for Inclusion in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure (HTL) Index 2021’.
The Index is produced by WiHTL (Diversity in Hospitality Travel and Leisure) in partnership with the MBS Group and features 62 women and 13 advocates for change from across the hospitality, travel and leisure industry in the UK.
Former UCC graduate Aoife Wycherley is head of food procurement and head of supply chain at Sodexo UK and Ireland, with responsibility for annual spend in the region of €175m annually, which she manages from her base in rural Cork.
Former TU Dublin graduate Deirdre Saunders is a divisional director for Sodexo, with responsibility for more than half of its employees based in the Republic and Northern Ireland. A member of the Sodexo Ireland senior leadership team, Deirdre oversees contracts representing €50m turnover, with clients in the professional services, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and education sectors. Dublin-born Deirdre is also the diversity, equity and inclusion lead for Sodexo in Ireland.
Aoife is passionate about responsible procurement and was instrumental in the launch of Sodexo’s supplier inclusion programme in 2015. The programme continues to this day, helping small, medium enterprises (SMEs) and voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs) not only become part of Sodexo’s supply chain but providing them with valuable business advice and mentoring to help make their businesses a success.
As a result of her commitment to supplier inclusion, Aoife has recently been appointed chair of the UK’s Business Services Association’s (BSA) SME committee. She has also received recognition for her work on responsible procurement from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) as well as Enterprise Nation, MSDUK and SEUK.
Aoife said: “It is an honour to be included in this Index. I am firm believer that there is always something more to learn, at Sodexo we have changed the conversation from diversity and inclusion to diversity, equity and inclusion but we must all remember that having the conversation is one thing, but we must also look at the delivery piece and ask yourself, what are we actually doing to orchestrate change and create a truly inclusive workplace.”
Deirdre said: “I am delighted to be included in the 2021 Index, I am very passionate about sharing my own experiences to help develop leaders in our business and in supporting all our colleagues to understand the importance and steps they can take to ensure their workplace and the wider market is inclusive. My hope in sharing my story and my experience is that I will inspire others to realise their full personal and professional potential.”
Diversity, equity and inclusion have long-been heralded by Sodexo as real differentiators and it endeavours to make these values part of its DNA and through its Social Impact Pledge it has committed to creating social contracts that support equity, inclusion and wellbeing.
Sean Haley, region chair, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “I am immensely proud to see Aoife and Deirdre included in this Index. At Sodexo we recognise that everyone’s unique background, experience, and abilities are at the heart of our vibrant workforce and truly reflect the communities we serve. Which is why we are committed to building a diverse and inclusive culture where our employees feel valued and respected as individuals.
“Aoife and Deirdre are not only role models for the industry, but their efforts are also respected and recognised at all levels within Sodexo too. Huge congratulations to both, this recognition is well-deserved.”