Indigenous business investment is a key step in reconciliation  

[by Madeline Jones]


Operating over six Australian states and territories the Clontarf foundation, partnered with Sodexo, have over eight thousand Indigenous male students nation-wide which they provide education and support services to. Image: supplied

Sodexo, global leader in quality of life services, invested more than $39 million in Australian Indigenous business in FY20 as part of its pursuit to bridge the gap between Indigenous business and corporate Australia.


This investment has nearly doubled from 2019 as Sodexo continues to broaden their approach to Indigenous procurement.


The catering and facilities management service provider spread this spend across more than 50 Indigenous businesses, from legacy suppliers to new vendors, with 50 percent of these businesses located in remote Australia.


Of the 2.1 million businesses in Australia, between 0.6 and 0.8 percent are Indigenous-owned, while Indigenous people represent 3.3 percent of the Australian population, as of June 2016[1].


Mark Chalmers, Sodexo Australia CFO and Country President: “We know Indigenous businesses are a key investment into communities, now and into the future. Ensuring sustainable practices, working with Indigenous businesses lifts people and communities on the rising tide of economic independence.”


Sodexo’s investment in Indigenous business has increased significantly during recent years, rising from $9 million in 2018 to $21.8 million in 2019 and now in 2020, exceeding $39 million.


The company’s focus on Indigenous procurement stems from its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), created in partnership with Reconciliation Australia. Sodexo is one of just 20 companies in Australia progressing its Elevate RAP, the highest recognition and status by Reconciliation Australia.


Mark Chalmers, Sodexo Australia CFO and Country President: “To bridge the gap between Indigenous organisations and corporate Australia, business leaders need to start making conscious business decisions. Our RAP sets out the steps and commitments that Sodexo is undertaking to progress reconciliation. Our targets include at least a $10M spend with Indigenous-owned businesses.” 


Looking internally, Sodexo has also prioritised the employment of First Nations people, establishing multiple programs and entry points exclusive to onboarding Indigenous people.


This includes delivering a Certificate II in Hospitality to long-term unemployed Indigenous people through Vocational Training and Employment Centres (VTEC), which has seen more than 300 Indigenous Australians onboarded since its inception in 2015.


Indigenous heritage is currently held by 7.3 percent of Sodexo’s workforce, and this representation is even higher in sites such as Weipa, where 36.9 percent of employees are Indigenous.


Mark Chalmers, Sodexo Australia CFO and Country President: “We’re proud of our achievements to date but acknowledge there is still more work to be done. We aspire to see our Indigenous workforce grow to at least 10 percent.” 


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