In conversation with… Henri Van Elewyck, Group Senior Vice President Ethics and Responsible Business Conduct of Sodexo

08 April 2020

Tags: Corporate governance, Communication & Engagement, Supportive Environment

In the penultimate blog of the Embedding Business Ethics series we're in conversation with Henri Van Elewyck, Group Senior Vice President Ethics and Responsible Business Conduct of Sodexo.

Read Henri's thoughts on how the report's results relate to his experience in communicating ethics in a large multinational organisation.

Henri Van Elewyck is responsible for leading Ethics and Responsible Business Conduct throughout Sodexo and is also co-chair of the Group Ethics and Compliance Committee. Henri worked previously in different operational and functional roles and has vast international experience. 

One of the things the IBE report looks at is the communication strategy that companies have in place around ethics. Sodexo, as a company, operates in 67 countries around the world and there are 130 nationalities represented in your workforce. How do you communicate to such a diverse audience? 

Our regional ethics and compliance committees are essential to do this effectively. We are really putting accountability on the regions and countries to cascade the information down. We are trying to do as much as we can at group level, but we are trying to push accountability and the responsibility down as much as we can in the regions and in the countries. We provide a framework at global level, but we ask them to customise it for the local environment. They know their country much better than we do. So they need to adapt it, obviously without jeopardising the integrity of the messages. But they have that important flexibility.

How do you ensure consistency in your ethics communications all around the world? 

There is no doubt that different countries have different cultures, and local practices and we must certainly understand this. We are a global organisation and have our values and ethical principles. It's just the same as being a big family with its own internal rules and principles and we expect those family members to adhere to them. 

I have travelled to many different countries myself and I was confronted with many different ethics and compliance issues, as you can imagine. The challenges are real. But I can assure that regardless of which country or culture people are from, they know what is right or wrong and they do understand that. There is no doubt that there are some customs that are ingrained, but deep down people know what is right and wrong. 

Now, we cannot avoid that that are specific customs in certain countries, and that's an ongoing challenge that we have. We try just to say that we are a big family, we are an organisation, we have values, we have standards and we ask everyone to adhere to those standards the best that they can. Is it going to be perfect? No, because we know that cultures are different. But we try our best to understand the people, rather than just giving them rules to follow from our Group offices.

Read the report...

Publication type: Survey

Embedding Business Ethics: 2020 report on corporate ethics policies and programmes

This report is the ninth in the triennial series looking at corporate ethics policies and programmes. It is the IBE’s longest-running survey series, and continues to give valuable insights into how companies run their ethics programmes.

01 Apr 2020

Please note that this interview took place in January 2020