The Power of Partnerships Can Improve Quality of Life for Everyone

By: Jennifer Williamson
Jun 28, 2016 2:15 PM ET
Jennifer Williamson, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Sodexo North America

The Power of Partnerships Can Improve Quality of Life for Everyone

Imagine that you are the mayor of a major U.S. city.  How would you handle the very real challenges of city life, fed by a news cycle of endless stories of poverty, crime, failing schools and infrastructure issues?

If you’re anything like the mayors who have aligned through the Cities of Service, you’d know the answer. There is power in partnerships – partnerships with your residents and with business. Cities of Service, a coalition founded in 2009 by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, supports mayors and city executives in more than 200 cities in the U.S. and the U.K, as they design strategies, network and share best practices to improve the lives of more than 60 million people. The initiative is based on the belief that everyone has a contribution to make – and businesses and city residents everywhere are stepping up to address local challenges, with encouraging results.

Mayors in cities across the country including Louisville, Birmingham, Orlando and Buffalo, to cite just a few, are leveraging their business connections’ resources and their citizens’ power and goodwill to work side by side with city government and agencies. Together they are creating meaningful change through neighborhood revitalization, safety preparedness, health and wellness initiatives and more. As people become neighbors instead of strangers, good things happen. For example, when a mosque in Louisville was defaced, 2000 people showed up the next day for the cleanup.

Companies like Sodexo who have a significant presence and employ many residents can have a meaningful impact on improving the quality of life in the cities in which they operate. I am pleased to be supporting our mission as a Sodexo employee and as a Cities of Service board member.

The best results are led by mayors or chief executives who actively engage in the planning and implementation of service strategies and commit the appropriate resources. New Orleans’ Mayor Mitch Landrieu is an inspiring example. He has been successful in driving major change – and exciting results – by engaging his city’s residents, government and businesses. His multi-faceted approach includes the first ever public-private partnership for economic development, the NOLA Business Alliance, resulting in private sector job growth, major new retailers, new private investment, and expanded entrepreneurship. Since 2010, New Orleans has been ranked as the #1 metropolitan area for overall economic recovery by the Brookings Institute. And, with an eye on the future, the 2016 NOLA Youth Works Program, a key part of the city’s Workforce Readiness program, is providing quality summer experiences to build a pipeline to careers for local youth ages 13-21.

Sodexo’s mission is to support the quality of life in the communities where we live, work and serve and we liaise with the mayors to do our part. We have a significant business portfolio in many cities, including New Orleans, in multiple business segments. These cities are where many of our employees live, work, and where their children go to school, so their health and well-being are of primary concern. One way that Sodexo contributes and makes a difference in the cities where we live and work is through the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation’s Feeding our Future program. Concentrated in 23 U.S. cities, this summer meal program will provide approximately 400,000 healthy meals to children in need in 2016. Feeding our Future was developed in response to the issues we saw in our communities, where despite Federal hunger programs like SNAP and a proliferation of private efforts, children who are out of school for the summer do not have access to reliable nutrition. This is simply unacceptable, so Sodexo partners with local community organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs and local hunger relief organizations, as well as clients and suppliers, to provide meals to children who would otherwise go hungry. The Foundation’s Stop Hunger effort involves our local clients and team members and doesn’t end when school begins in September. Every year our employees across the U.S. participate in myriad campaigns to combat food insecurity including food drives, backpack programs, payroll donations, Servathon and many more, all aimed at improving quality of life. We are not alone in these efforts and there is strength in numbers. Doing our part to build stronger, healthier communities is central to our mission to improve Quality of Life for our employees, their families and all residents. Feeding our Future is central to our overall Stop Hunger efforts because making a difference in the health and well-being of every child is essential for our communities and for our collective future.

Sodexo is committed to improving performance and enhancing quality of life for the individuals, organizations and communities we serve. Share with us what a better quality of life would mean for your community?      

Jennifer Williamson is Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Sodexo North America.  Sodexo’s 133,000 employees in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico provide more than 100 unique services that improve performance for 9,000 client partners and improve Quality of Life for 15 million consumers every day.