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Sodexo's Dr. Rohini Anand: Breaking Gender Barriers & Creating Change

Sodexo's Dr. Rohini Anand, senior vice president and global chief diversity officer, is well known in diversity-management circles for her leadership. Learn more about her career here - from how she paved an often-uncharted path as an Indian woman to how her volunteerism enriches her life and those around her.

DiversityInc has selected several extraordinary women to profile in our Women We Love feature. The six women whose stories you'll read have two things in common: They overcame obstacles or cultural assumptions to become leaders in their fields, and they have continued, throughout their lives, to give back to others.

Rohini Anand is one of those women. Here is her story:


TITLE: Senior Vice President and Global Chief Diversity Officer

BIRTHPLACE: Mumbai, India

EDUCATION: Ph.D., University of Michigan

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS: Has served on boards including Women's Foodservice Forum, Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance, National Multicultural Institute, ACTSO Board of NAACP, Corporate and Philanthropic Council of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund

PERSONAL: Married, two daughters

INTERESTING FACT: "Rohini" means "evening star"

I grew up in India, surrounded by others who looked like me but had variations by socioeconomic status or religion. The determining factor in my life was my move to the United States, when I was first perceived as a minority. A life-shaping experience, it led me to the work I do today.

My childhood was interesting. I grew up in Mumbai, the eldest of three girls. My father was among the first group of Indian students to go to the United States on a scholarship. He had a physics scholarship in the mid-1940s to the University of Chicago, but he hated it because it was too cold, and he wanted to move to California. The only scholarship available there was in film production, and he took it. He ended up doing film production with Clark Gable and Cary Grant. He moved back to India and did some documentaries, including "Spring Comes to Kashmir." And then he went into his own business. My mother started Bombay International School, founded by expat women.

My parents encouraged me to go to grad school in the United States even though their friends said a woman shouldn't do this and that I should have an arranged marriage. At 20, with a degree in history, I went to the United States. It wasn't a well-thought-out plan; the rough plan was I'd get an advanced degree and be even more attractive for an arranged marriage.

But my sisters and I were different. My younger sister didn't marry until she was 40!

I finally got my Ph.D. in Asian studies at the University of Michigan and decided to stay in the United States. The experiences in North America really shaped me into a different person.

The question I posed for myself was: "If this can be so impactful for me, what must it be like for those growing up in the U.S. who really have the minority identity shaped for them at a very early age?" The research I did was on identifying formation and the movement of people in India.

I met my husband when I was in grad school. He is Indian but it was not an arranged marriage. We met through friends. He is now treasurer of the Smithsonian. We have two daughters, 24 and 21. The older one, Easha, graduated from Yale and works in prisons with death-row inmates. She wants to go to law school. The younger one, Pria, is graduating this spring from Yale and runs a soup kitchen. I have learned so much from them. They keep me grounded.

Early in my career, I toddled between the corporate world, government agencies and education. I was getting tired of not engaging with one system and seeing sustained cultural change. I knew I wanted to go internal. I saw this tremendous opportunity to make a difference. What closed the deal with Sodexo (No. 2 on The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) was my interview with Michel Landel. His level of commitment, his vision, his leadership, his clarity on what he wanted to see happen was absolutely unparalleled. In the U.S., Dick Macedonia and George Chavel have gotten rightful credit, but Michel's big deal has been diversity. He instituted a scorecard for executive compensation (tied to diversity) against the resistance of his entire executive team.

What else really matters to me? Community work. I work with Asian women who are victims of domestic violence. It keeps me connected with the Asian community. In a more ad hoc way, particularly when my kids were in the public school system in Montgomery County, I worked with ESL students—language skills and basic language. This fits because English was not my first language, Hindi was. There also is a men's shelter where my husband and I cook once a month. It's been an eye-opener to see the kind of people there, particularly in this economy. And it's important because I hate to cook. That's the only time I cook.

Click here to see all of the Women We Love profiles, including Rohini Anand's, as they originally appeared in DiversityInc magazine.

The Conversation

Sodexo: University Dining Teams Partner to Give Back and Address Hunger on College Campuses

Sodexo's work to fight hunger follows the entire student journey from primary to higher education.

Originally Published by Sodexo.

Every holiday season, Sodexo dining teams across more than 650 university locations extend their service spirit to students in need. Here are six great examples of partnerships with students, faculty and University leadership that are making an impact beyond the classroom.

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Sodexo's Centerplate and Miami Beach Convention Center Announce Contract Extension

"This is a world-class facility and we look forward to having a best-in-class culinary program for years to come, led by General Manager Danny Medina and Executive Chef Ismael Lasalle."

Originally Published by Sodexo.

Centerplate, North America's leading convention center hospitality provider, and The Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) have announced an agreement to extend the food and beverage contract at the Center. The newly signed extension comes as the MBCC reopens after an all-encompassing $620 million renovation.

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Sodexo Seniors, in Partnership with Connected Living, Introduces New "Smart Living" Program for Senior Living Residents Using Alexa in the US

With the new smart-tech, Sodexo Seniors enables more social engagement to drive health, longevity and Quality of Life.

Sodexo Seniors, in partnership with Connected Living, Introduces New Originally Published by Sodexo.

Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company committed to improving Quality of Life, is now offering a new "Smart Living" program for senior living residents to easily engage within their community and in the community at large by simply using their voices. The "Smart Living" program integrates Sodexo menus with Connected Living content management systems to allow residents to simply ask Alexa for community information and much more.

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Students Leading Sustained and Innovative Hunger-Fighting Solutions Can Apply for $10,000 from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation

Applications for the 2019 Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholarships now being accepted.

Originally Published by Sodexo.

The Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation today announced the opening of the application period for the 2019 Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholarships which will run from October 5 through December 5, 2018. The scholarship program urges students to apply to #Get5KGive5K to help end hunger in their communities. Students from kindergarten through graduate school are eligible to apply for a $5,000 scholarship with matching $5,000 grant for the hunger-related charity of their choice. Visit to apply.

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Sodexo Launches New Plant-Based Menus Across Hundreds of University, Healthcare and Corporate Services Accounts Nationwide

200 Plant-Based Recipes Created in Partnership with the Humane Society of the United States and the World Resource Institute-Better Buying Lab.

Originally Published by Sodexo.

Sodexo Launches New Plant-Based Menus Across Hundreds of University, Healthcare and Corporate Services Accounts NationwideAccording to a Nielsen global survey, 39% of American consumers are working to incorporate more plant-based foods in their diets. Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company committed to improving Quality of Life, launched its new plant-based menus in hundreds of accounts across its Universities, Healthcare, and Corporate Services segments. The new menus featuring 200 plant-based recipes were created in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the World Resource Institute-Better Buying Lab (WRI), to meet consumer demand for plant-based options and reduce the environmental impact of food offerings.

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Sodexo: From Tikka Masala to Congee, Campus Dining Trends Go Beyond Chicken Tenders & Pizza

Sodexo, Which Runs Dining Services at More Than 600 U.S. Colleges and Universities, Names Top Dining Trends.

From Tikka Masala to Congee, Campus Dining Trends Go Beyond Chicken Tenders & PizzaOriginally Published by Sodexo.

College dining halls these days look more like the popular food halls in cities throughout the US and Canada than like the cafeterias that many alumni remember. Today's students have sophisticated palates and dining services reflect this.

"Our student customers have grown up eating a wide-variety of cuisine from around the world. They know what they like, but they are also adventurous and want to try new foods," said Lisa Feldman, Sodexo's director of recipe management. Sodexo provides food services for more than 600 colleges and universities across North America.

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Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Extends Partnership With Armed Services YMCA To Help End Childhood Hunger

$100,000 grant from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation will support child development and food insecurity programs at two ASYMCA locations.

Originally Published by Sodexo.

Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation announced that it is extending its partnership with the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) and providing a $100,000 grant to improve access to nutritious food to help end childhood hunger. The organizations will continue to work together to support the military community by helping to reduce food insecurity among military families. With the generosity of organizations like Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, ASYMCA can help stop military family hunger through programs and services supporting young, low-income military families.

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