Founded in 1966, Sodexo Group is the second largest food services and facilities management company in the world as of 2015. Its headquarters are located in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France. Sodexo is the 18th largest corporation in the world, operating in 80 countries and employing 439,000 people. Its 2014 revenues were $20.45 billion.
Sodexo operates in three main sectors: Onsite services in corporate, defense, justice services, remote sites, health care, seniors, education, and sports and leisure segments, with services including reception, food services, cleaning, and technical maintenance of facilities and equipment; Employee and public benefits (in both the public and private spheres); Personal and home services including in-home assistance, child care, and concierge services.
Onsite services account for 96% of Sodexo’s business worldwide. The company largely operates in North America, which comprises 38% of its activities, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Sodexo Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Previously, Sodexo was involved in the global private prison industry through its stake in CoreCivic, Inc., which runs private prisons in the US and abroad. In 2001, six U.S universities (American University, SUNY-Albany, Goucher College, Evergreen State, James Madison University, and Oberlin) dropped contracts with Sodexo after its links with the private prison industry through CoreCivic, Inc. were made public. This, in addition to activist pressure at 46 other universities, compelled Sodexo to sell its shares in CivicCore, Inc., CoreCivic, Inc.'s then-president, Doctor Crants also resigned from Sodexo’s board of directors.
The same year, CoreCivic, Inc. sold its 50% share in Sodexo Justice Services, giving Sodexo full ownership of the company. Sodexo Justice Services is now part of Sodexo’s “onsite services” business, and operates private prisons, rehabilitation centers, and immigrant detention centers. As of 2014 the company runs at least 122 prisons in 8 countries. Sodexo Justice Services accounts for 2% of Sodexo’s annual revenue.
In addition, Sodexo acquired CoreCivic, Inc.'s shares in Corrections Corporation of Australia (another private prison corporation), renaming it Australian Integrated Management Services (AIMS). AIMS provides custodial transportation for Western Australia's prison service as well as security services for courts.
In 2005, Sodexo settled a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of its African American employees for racial discrimination, paying $80 million. The company’s treatment of its employees has been the consistent focus of other litigation ever since. In 2010 Sodexo paid $20 million to settle claims made after the company was found overcharging 21 New York school districts and the State University of New York (SUNY) system for food and facilities services. The same year Sodexo workers in Pennsylvania filed a class action lawsuit against the company for wage theft.
Also in 2010, Sodexo was responsible for a Listeria outbreak in meat served to marine bases, resulting in an investigation from the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, and the loss of its West Coast contract with the U.S military. In 2013, Sodexo faced a similar food safety issue when it was forced to recall all of its frozen beef products at over 2,300 sites in the UK, including its prison facilities, after horsemeat was found in its supplies.
In 2011, the TransAfrica Forum produced a report detailing how “Sodexo’s employment practices violate their workers’ human right to their own livelihood,” citing evidence and testimonials from five countries -Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guinea, Morocco, and the United States. The same year, Human Rights Watch issued its own report on corporations’ violations of freedom of association in the United States, including Sodexo. The reports echoed claims made by students at Pomona College, who successfully pressured their administration not to renew its contract with Sodexo due to complaints about food quality and treatment of workers.