Sodexo Canada, the quality of life service provider, has spent years learning how to work with impacted communities in ways that focus not just on its day-to-day business, but also on what impact the company’s actions will have tomorrow, and on the future of Indigenous prosperity as a whole.
This approach has helped Sodexo gain recognition for its commitment to fostering impactful partnerships with Indigenous Communities, Nations, and businesses. Jonathan Kruger, a member and former Chief of Penticton Indian Band/Okanagan Nation, guides Sodexo’s continued commitment to supporting Indigenous Communities and Nations as its Director of Indigenous Relations.
Why is supporting Indigenous businesses an important part of Sodexo’s strategy?
A better tomorrow means prosperity for Indigenous Communities and Nations and I believe Sodexo supports that. Sodexo believes in prosperity and quality of life for everybody, and it’s an important part of doing business in Canada on Indigenous lands — you have to create those relationships and partnerships moving forward.
What might a partnership between Sodexo and Indigenous Communities and Nations look like?
My responsibility as Director of Indigenous Relations is to continue to put ourselves out there when projects start coming about in Canada. We approach Indigenous Nations and Communities to offer partnerships. We share what our plan is, our capacity building, our training programs, and the opportunities for Indigenous businesses that can be created out of these projects instead of Sodexo owning them. We ask ourselves how we can work together to create something so that the Community can take on some of those contracts.
Why is it important to foster relationships with Indigenous Communities and Nations?
Through my passion and life journey as an Indigenous leader who has entered the corporate world and is always learning, the one thing that I always turn to as my personal mission is Indigenous prosperity. Now that I’m in the corporate world working for Sodexo, I get the opportunity to help with the Indigenous prosperity of many Communities and Nations.
We’re working with 25 Communities and Nations on 15 projects, and within those 15 projects, we have 89 Indigenous suppliers. That means we’ve helped create 89 Indigenous businesses — and the number is growing. Over 600 Indigenous band members work on those projects, meaning that 63 percent of our employees are Indigenous. That’s what helps build relationships with Communities, not just with the leadership but with actual Community members. I’m really proud of that and to know that we have a plan that actually works.
What has made the Indigenous training and professional development programs successful?
We’re doing some employee training and development programs and we have a really excellent model — we’ll be using it across the country. We’ve actually brought in Indigenous Community members into kiosks as a training program. Then, we bring them into the project that we’ve established near their Community.
We’ve created this hub and we’ve collaborated with other businesses, colleges, and universities so that we’re not limiting ourselves. With diversity at Sodexo, we think out of the box and plan a lot about how we can make these things happen, and we get it done — I’m really proud of that.
What can other organizations learn from these experiences when implementing their own Indigenous engagement strategies?
Consider our 89 Indigenous suppliers: if other big companies can do this — and some of them already are doing this — we’re working toward fulfilling our obligation to the 94 Calls to Action as put forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Canada. The 92nd Call urges companies to step up and do real business with Indigenous Communities and Nations. I can tell you right now that Sodexo is following this action amazingly. We’re talking with the Indigenous Communities and Nations and we’re coming up with plans so that they and their band members can be successful.
That’s what builds the relationships, that’s what builds the partnerships, and that’s what builds pride. I’m so proud of Sodexo for doing what we’ve been doing and I’m honoured to be a part of this team.