Quality of Life Must Be at the Center of All Economic Decision-making

Published on October 24, 2017

Closing Remarks: Reflections on the Quality of Life with Sophie Bellon, Chairwoman of Sodexo’s Board of Directors and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD

Economic policy must focus more on creating better lives for ordinary peopleOne of the reasons why there has been an international backlash against globalization is precisely that too many people feel that they are being left behind and excluded from globalization’s economic benefits, Angel Gurría said.

This is why there is a backlash. A lot of people feel that they are not benefitting equally,” he said. Economic divisions have led to social fragmentation, which in turn brings political fragmentation. “So, putting people at the center is what it is all about. Everything goes back to quality of life,” he said.

Political fragmentation and disenchantment can be seen in recent votes. In Britain, 60% of young British people failed to vote in the referendum on Brexit, and in parts of Europe, right-wing parties have made significant electoral gains. “The common thread is that there are enough people, mainly young, who are saying tthe government, to the status quo, to the companies () I am not satisfied. I don’t think you are doing enough to put me at the center,” Gurría said.


Public-private Partnerships

Partnerships between the public and private sectors and the public at large have never been more importantGurría said. Sodexo can play an important role because its hundreds of thousands of employees and its millions of clients give it “extraordinary reach.” 

Global companies  like Sodexo  are now expected to be much more than pure economic playersSophie Bellon said. They are being challenged to contribute on issues such as education, youth unemployment, social inclusion and the environment, once considered the exclusive concern of governments. Today, they cannot do it alone anymore. First, because they no longer have the means to do it,” Bellon said. “Of course, this is due to the economic situation, increasing public deficits and pressure on public spending. But also because of globalization it is not as simple and the agility and the responsiveness” she added. 

Rapid Change

Sodexo has always wanted to make an impact on society. It works a great deal with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). With the WWF, for example, it is working on reducing its carbon emissions and reducing the carbon footprint. 

The company employs 425,000 people. “Wgive them a decent job, we give them job security; we give them decent wages, we give them an opportunity to develop. That is an important role.” In addition, the company sources EUR billion worth of purchases each yearWe also have an impact on people that work with those suppliers () we want to work with suppliers from small and medium-sized enterprises and () especially with women business enterprises.

Bellon noted that there was no contradiction between Sodexo’continuing adherence to its fundamental values and the need to adapt to a rapidly changing world. “Our fast-changing world is not only generating uncertainty and complexity. It is also bringing excitement, energy and renewed hope, leaving us with only one solution – to embrace the change, to be the change,” she said.