Case Study: Sodexo's Mentoring Program

Why is Sodexo's mentoring program a model for other companies? See what metrics are used to assess value.

What's the best mentoring program in corporate America? There are several strong contenders, but BestPractices.DiversityInc.com selects Sodexo's Spirit of Mentoring as the best example you can find because of its structured and detailed program, the metrics in place every step of the way to check for issues and guarantee success, and the measurements to prove the ROI of the mentoring program.


Here are some of the highlights.

Benchmarking customers: Look for your personalized monthly report on mentoring, including your comparatives to The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity and your own competitive index.

Here are the key points from Sodexo's Spirit of Mentoring:

  • The goals of Spirit of Mentoring, as stated by Sodexo, are to establish a diverse pipeline, develop leaders, align resources and strategies, drive organizational culture, cut costs and enhance the company's reputation as an "employer of choice."
  • IMPACT, the cornerstone program started in 2004, has had 125 partnerships. Pairs make a one-year commitment.
  • What's considered in matching pairs? Levels, that they be cross-divisional, cross-functional and, most importantly, cross cultural. Geography also is factored in to allow for the most possible in-person meetings. The mentee needs always come first.
  • Ninety percent of the pairings have been cross-divisional and 75 percent have been cross cultural.
  • The key players in each pairing are the mentor and mentee, of course, as well as the program manager, the implementation team, the executive sponsors and senior leaders, and HR.
  • In a typical year, the program is launched after mentors and mentees are trained, with a 90-minute meeting of the pairs, which is then held monthly. At the two-month point, the IMPACT team does a checkpoint. At four months, a webinar is held and at six months, an e-survey to ascertain progress is held. Another webinar occurs at eight months and another survey is held at the one-year closing mark. The company also follows up on the progress of its teams.
  • A 2008 e-survey of IMPACT participants found for every $1 spent, there was $2.28 in retention/increased productivity realized. And the same e-survey found more than 95 percent of both mentors and mentees reported a positive experience.
  • The company calculated the costs as time and resources to set it up and monitor it, time from the employees involved at all levels, and efforts to look for employees who might not normally be considered for leadership tracks, as well as efforts to measure results.
  • A study of mentors and mentees for intangible benefits by Sodexo found 72 percent of mentees and 79 percent of mentors cited increased job satisfaction, 74 percent of mentors and 72 percent of mentees cited organizational commitment, and 52 percent of mentors and 54 percent of mentees cited increased diversity awareness.
  • A 2008 e-survey showed almost all participants reported a positive experience and would recommend the program to others. Almost all said the program demonstrates the organization's commitment.
  • Sodexo identifies the following key long-term factors in its success: It expands over time, since culture change is not immediate; they continue to "raise the bar"; it is aligned with strategies; they identify trends and make the connections for relevancy; the role of executive sponsors as key stakeholders is emphasized; measurement is critical for credibility; cascading communication is essential.
  • Participants cited: the cross-cultural component; the importance of face time; the mentee-driven concept; that different styles require different approaches; and the strong level of commitment is vital.

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