Margot Slattery, Global Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Sodexo - Ireland
Irish-born Margot began her professional life as a chef in several well-known establishments in Dublin and London, but rapidly wanted to move into management so, returning to Dublin, she took a junior management role with a well-known Irish contract catering company in the early 1990s, later acquired by Sodexo. She then moved up the ladder and became Country President in 2015. During Margot’s tenure, Sodexo Ireland won a number of industry awards such as Hotel and Catering ‘Gold Medal’ awards and ‘Hospitality Ireland’. She was appointed FM Leader of the Year at the 2018 Facilities Management Awards for Ireland and was presented with the Business Leader Award at the WXN 25 Most Powerful Women in Ireland Awards for 2018.
When did you have that “a-ha” moment and realise you were different?
I think I was probably 6/7, when I wanted to dress in less feminine clothes and be different to the usual expectations of girls my age, I felt different to girls in school and cousins, hard to say what it was exactly but I did feel it .
How would you describe your experience of coming out?
I dreaded it and was super nervous and hesitated for a long time, but the reaction was super positive and very powerful; however, it’s not always been like that, coming out to my mum and brother was the hardest.
How did your childhood and family background impact both the timing and the way you came out?
A whole lot, I came from a quite conservative Irish catholic family, I dreaded coming out and was super nervous and would have preferred to not have come out in my view at that time, I am glad I did but it took time.
What would your advice be to anyone trying to come out?
Just do it, don’t try to please others, take care of yourself and being out is a freedom.
What was the most difficult experience you faced in your life because of your sexual orientation / gender identity? How did you handle it?
Covering it up and, I believe, my own inability to come out stymied my life, it held me back and challenged my health and wellness and hindered my career success, I covered this with humour and by trying to be a party animal. It took me into a better place to challenge all of this within myself.
Who is the most important role model in your life and why?
The most important role model is my life was a teacher who was a nun, she encouraged me to enjoy literature and to see women could be something else.
Now broadening our horizon, describe your experience being a member of the LGBTQ community at work? In your industry?
It has changed so much 360°, I love how it is now and feel very open and included and embraced and valued for who I am and how I am. I feel my contribution is valued and I love the creativity and openness of work today.
And, what could make the biggest positive impact for the LGBTQ community?
To be even more embracing of the BTQ and to understand gender fluid and to ensure there is a safe space for the next generation.
Finally and on a less serious note, what stereotype do you love the most about the LGBTQ community?
We love to party.
More about Margot
Since September 2019, Margot Slattery has been responsible for the strategic direction, implementation and alignment of Sodexo’s global diversity and inclusion approach focusing on five dimensions; Cultures & Origins, Disabilities, Gender, Sexual Orientation/LGBT+ and Generations. She reports directly to the Sodexo Group’s chief people officer with open communication to Denis Machuel, Chief Executive Officer of Sodexo group, and the global executive committee. She also represents Sodexo in global diversity & inclusion forums such as the UN Global Compact, UN Free & Equal initiative, the Valuable 500 initiative and Catalyst, a global non-profit organisation that promotes the professional advancement of women.
Margot was also instrumental in the company becoming one of the co-founders and signatories of Ireland’s first Diversity Charter. She served on the Sodexo Global LGBT leadership team and was influential in ensuring LGBT considerations are included in Sodexo’s Global D&I strategy. Since then, she has won numerous awards for her role in supporting diversity and inclusion for women in business, including the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite (National Order of Merit) from the French Ambassador to Ireland. Margot has appeared on the OUTstanding/Financial Times list of TOP 100 LGBT Business Leaders since 2015.
Outside of Sodexo, Margot was co-chair of one of the Irish NGOs involved in the passing of the 2015 Marriage Equality Act in Ireland, the first time that a state legalised same sex marriage via popular vote. She is president of the France-Ireland Chamber of Commerce and her board memberships include the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Business in the Community Ireland, Bord ná Mona, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, and Sofinsod Insurance DAC, among others.
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/margotslattery/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/margmargot