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Women lunch

Professional Security Magazine MD Roy Cooper and our regular contributor Una Riley attended the Sodexo Centre of Excellence Awards Luncheon at Ascot racecourse on Monday, April 23. Una reported in our June print issue on the contract company’s employee awards and Women in Security winner Kathy Ridgard.  



The Centre of Excellence event brought together the facility management platforms comprising of cleaning, health and well-being, grounds and building maintenance employees and of course security.  Everyone in attendance congregated to enjoy the day and to be recognised for their hard work and contribution to the company. The award winners were judged on their day-to-day performance within their specific roles and the ability to be creative and innovative regarding their overall customer service expertise.  When I first attended the Centre of Excellence Awards some years ago they were only on behalf of security personnel.  They have now developed to include all of the other service providers represented under the centre’s umbrella. The day kicked off with Simon Pears updating the audience with the Secure by Sodexo achievements. He demonstrated the strong growth that had continued in the first quarter of 2012 with a graph that was headed so far north it was almost off the page. He informed the audience that security was now operating in over 150 sites with new contracts that included TOTAL – Lindsey Oil Refinery, HONDA Manufacturing –Swindon and the North Staffordshire and Haywood Hospital.  The good news continued as Simon expressed his delight at the many achievements that ‘Secure’ had realised in the area of service delivery to the client.  He also touched on prominent in-house occasions that included a royal visit at Central Manchester Hospital and a Ministerial event at North Staffordshire Hospital.  Simon said: “These prestigious events went without a hitch from a security perspective and I would like to thank all those involved.  One of the strongest messages and one that I know the entire security team are proud of is the security officer retention rate that remains in excess of 95 per cent.”  It is easy to see how that figure translates into reality when you see the recognition and training that security officers are offered when they work for the company.  Simon went on to say: “Over 80 security officers have now completed the internal level two manned guarding course and over 100 security officers have completed the Maybo physical intervention training with 15 Officers completing the conflict and physical threats course, and as far as I am aware Sodexo are the only UK based security company to offer this European qualification.”


The good news did not stop and Simon announced that Secure by Sodexo had been selected as finalists in 2012 IFSEC awards in two categories and announced that women in security continues to grow with female security officers  rising to 14 per cent thanks to Jane Farrell. That involvement of women is something that is close to the heart of the new CEO of Sodexo, Debbie White.  At the start of 2012 Ms White took the role of CEO for the UK and Ireland.  She is no stranger to Sodexo having worked in the UK and Ireland as FD (Finance Director) from 2004 to 2007.  In January 2008 she crossed the Atlantic and became the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Sodexo, Inc (USA).  In this role, she directed the finance functions and personnel for the company’s six operating divisions, and the risk management functions reporting directly to CEO George Chavel.  While in the States an initiative entitled SWIFt (Sodexo Women’s International Forum for talent) was launched in June 2009.  This was to advance the organisations global gender strategy.  She committed to its primary goals were to expand the representation of women at the top levels of the organisation and increase the engagement of all women. Initially the initiative comprised of 20 senior women executives, representing 12 nationalities.  It focused on identifying specific actions and outcomes necessary for Sodexo to achieve a level of between 23 per cent and 25 per cent female representation in its ‘Top Three Hundred’ by 2015.  Sodexo’s global gender strategy works via education, training and awareness building. It is championing the business benefits of gender balance as well as pinpointing some of the barriers that currently exist. Through SWIFt, the company is identifying which actions will accelerate progress on gender balance.  There is one area that ‘Secure’ have definitely complied with the spirit of SWIFt and that is the recognition of the achievements of Kathy Ridgard – Director of Centre of Excellence.  Kathy won the industry category of the Professional Security Magazine – Woman in Security Awards.   As she was unable to make it on the day of the original presentation of WiS at the ASIS European conference, Roy Cooper and I caught up with her at Ascot.  WiS is the first UK independent award for the recognition of women’s contribution to the security profession.  Due to the diversity of entries the judges recommended that the award be split into three categories – end user, front line guarding and industry supplier.  The judges were a veritable collection of the great and the good of the security profession.  Kathy won the industry supplier category and had not realised that Simon Pears had nominated her until the winners had been announced.  She was obviously thrilled, but stressed that in her mind it represented the hard work on behalf of the Secure team.  Kathy is very self-effacing. She said:  “I am so pleased to have been awarded this recognition and I would like to thank everyone concerned. I would also like say that every day, our employees go above and beyond their immediate responsibilities to deliver service excellence. This event here at Ascot is a great way to recognise the hard work and commitment that Sodexo’s frontline employees have displayed over the last year and I would like to congratulate all winners and runners up for their outstanding achievements.” 


Some of those winners of the Security Service Excellence Awards went to Karl Jolly from Diligenta, John Pounder from Heineken Hereford and Derick Allen from Proctor & Gamble (Reading).  Winner of the Centre of Excellence – Security Officer of the Year Award was Kath Hodgkiss from Solvay Interox. It was a good day all round for women in security. 


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