Diversity Leadership: George Chavel, Sodexo
President and Chief Executive Officer
The son of a Greek immigrant, George Chavel attended a predominantly Black high school in Detroit in the 1960s. Growing up as a minority in an “ethnic, blue-collar sports town” gave him a strong foundation in and respect for diversity and inclusion, he says. His father’s inner-city candy and tobacco business was untouched during the race riots in 1967 because of his deep connections to the community; that would have a profound effect on his son.
Chavel has long championed diversity at Sodexo, a global food-services company with 125,000 employees in North America. He chairs the company’s Diversity Leadership Council, meets with resource groups quarterly and ties a quarter of total executive compensation to diversity metrics. “I believe our diversity journey has helped us produce value,” Chavel told DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti. “The other area is innovation. At this point in our journey, we don’t take anything for granted. We are actually getting out of the way of our people and letting them take the journey. Senior leadership is engaged. We put our money where our mouth is.”
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in economics and management from Michigan’s Albion College in 1981, Chavel began his career at the Arthur Andersen accounting firm and then spent several years in the franchise business as a director at Domino’s Pizza and at various regional food chains. He joined Sodexo in 1991, eventually running the company’s U.S. healthcare division, which grew 30 percent under his watch.
Chavel is on Deloitte’s Diversity External Advisory Council. He sits on the Corporate Advisory Board of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, the board of trustees of Albion College , and the board of directors of the Hispanic College Fund, the Montgomery County (Md.) Chamber Community Foundation and the Sodexo Foundation. He is married and has two sons.