The 100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM Blog Series features a new business executive Monday-Friday and the exemplary work his or her company is doing to support 21st Century STEM learning and workforce development- particularly for women, minorities and under-represented groups. Learn more and download the whole copy at STEMConnector.org/100Diverse. Follow the conversation on Social Media using #100STEMLeaders. Today's Diverse Corporate Leader is Gerri Mason Hall, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of Sodexo.
Gerri Mason Hall
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Gerri Mason Hall is senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Sodexo, Inc., with responsibility for all human resource functions for the company in the U.S. and Canada. She assumed the role in August 2014 after serving as vice president in Sodexo's Learning and Performance Organization.
Gerri joined Sodexo in 2006 leading Diversity & Inclusion in the Corporate and Government Services business. Prior to Sodexo, Gerri designed and implemented Amtrak's diversity programs as the VP Business Diversity and Strategic Initiatives. A graduate of Vassar College and the George Washington University National Law Center, Gerri held a number of appointments in both the federal and District of Columbia governments. Gerri is a member of Sodexo Women's International Forum for Talent (SWIfT) and the Executive Leadership Council.
Sodexo is committed to developing the next generation of STEM leaders. We believe there is a unique opportunity to seize upon the momentum built in recent years and to transform discourse into solutions; to mentor and prepare young people for unbridled success in tomorrow's demanding global marketplace. With that marketplace expanding at unprecedented rates and demographic shifts playing an increasing role in the American economy, it is clear that business leaders, industry experts and academics must offer a more comprehensive approach to preparing future leaders to successfully enter the workforce. In order to cultivate student interest in STEM fields, it is important to provide relevant and exciting examples of STEM job opportunities. At Sodexo, our diversified operations offer career fields that span culinary arts to facilities management and functional disciplines from finance and human resources to safety and risk mitigation. We deliver more than 100 types of services within our portfolio -- with operations spanning industry sectors such as healthcare, education, government, aviation, and senior living.
Why is STEM education /workforce development critical to the future of our business?
STEM education and workforce development is important not only to the future of Sodexo's business; it is a critical element to the competitiveness and performance of nearly every business nationally as well as globally. It transcends political party and state lines, national borders and is a bi-partisan public-policy issue upon which most Americans generally agree. It is so critical, in fact, that the degree to which we as a nation are able to successfully load the talent pipeline with STEM educated professionals will directly affect the country's ability to flourish economically and compete on a global scale.
How will STEM personally affect the future of our business?
Sodexo strategically partners with clients to improve performance of their organizations and the well-being of their people, their customers and the local communities where we operate. A key to sustaining progress for Sodexo -- and our clients and communities -- is STEM education and engagement. We deliver more than 100 types of technical services within our portfolio -- with operations spanning industry sectors such as healthcare, education, government, aviation, and senior living. Our 133,000 employees in North America fill positions at more than 9,000 sites, making it imperative for us to ensure that future talent is sufficiently prepared to step into these challenging careers.
How do we encourage students to continue their study of STEM subjects, particularly women and underrepresented minorities?
We need to approach this the same way we do most everything else when it comes to encouraging young people. We have to lead by example. That means holding up role models they can relate to and making the connections between academic success in STEM areas and the personal aspirations students have to lead a more fulfilling life.
Statistics highlight the challenge: Young girls and women are less likely than their male counterparts to work in STEM fields. In fact, just 24 percent of women work in STEM fields. What's more, 80 percent of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. depend upon mastery of mathematics and scientific knowledge and skills. That last statistic maps to our own business as well. If women and underrepresented minorities are to compete for such opportunities, we need to expose students to early and relevant mentoring relationships.
Where do you see the biggest areas of opportunity in advancing STEM jobs and careers?
It's actually hard to imagine a field or career with growth potential that does not offer huge opportunities for STEM educated professionals. Health care, energy, and transportation all offer clear opportunities, as do the fields of consumer electronics and web- or cloud-based enterprises. Food science and sustainability are going to be equally important areas of focus. The world community will need to balance its explosive population growth to an estimated 9 billion people by 2050 against food growth, production and distribution methodologies. It will be a talented cadre of next-gen STEM leaders that will help navigate these difficult issues along with the many growing environmental challenges to include water shortages and climate change.
What is your advice on using private-public partnerships to tackle our most pressing education challenges in STEM?
Private-public partnerships are essential for effectively addressing STEM. With the global marketplace expanding at unprecedented rates and demographic shifts playing an increasing role in the American economy, it is clear that business leaders, industry experts , elected officials and academics must offer a more comprehensive approach to preparing future leaders to successfully enter the workforce.
What Employee Resource Groups does your company have in place?
Employee Business Resource Groups at Sodexo are organized by employees who, based on shared experiences, join together to provide a positive forum for professional development, and input ideas that support the success of the company's diversity efforts. Sodexo currently has nine Employee Business Resource Groups that include: African American Leadership Forum (AALF), Honoring Our Nation's finest with Opportunity and Respect (HONOR), Intergenerational Network Group (i-Gen), Native American and Aboriginal Council (NAAC), Pan Asian Network Group (PANG), People Respecting Individuality, Diversity, and Equality (PRIDE), Sodexo Organization for disAbilities Resources (SOAR), Sodexo Organization of Latinos (SOL) and Women's Network Group (WiNG).