Emerson Foster - Boston Biz Journal

Emerson Foster: Delving into Inclusive Leadership at Sodexo

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By Princess Jones Curtis

Boston, MA — Emerson Foster knows that numbers don’t always tell the whole story. “Companies must dig a little deeper into the numbers to ensure that true inclusion is experienced by everyone within the organization. If necessary, they must consider creating areas of focus that touch a subset of the population. If not, you may feel good about your increase in African American executives but you may not be moving the needle with Latino professionals.” 

As the Vice President of Human Resources for North America in the Corporate Services Division of Sodexo, Foster leads the team responsible for delivering HR Business Partner support. He also provides direct strategic HR support to the CEO of the North American Corporate Services Business.

“We are blessed with exceptional leadership. The organization has been and continues to be a leader in this space,” explains Foster. “That said, I would like to see us do a better job of celebrating how we got to where we are today. I suspect there are lessons within the hard work and sacrifice of people who paved the way for the initiative to be held in such high regard inside and outside of the organization.”

As Black History Month looms in the current news cycle, Foster explains that the holiday is necessary to educate and celebrate the past and current achievements of Black Americans. “It will be a great day when a month is not necessary. The history books in our schools will appropriately capture the tremendous impact African Americans have had on this society. Unfortunately in 2020, only certain portions of the vast history of our people are known by the masses. The month will remain significant until we reach the point where our history is truly intertwined with American History.”

Foster is also inspired by helping people access opportunities. “It is extremely motivating knowing that I may be in a position to influence someone’s life in a positive way. Nothing is more gratifying than when someone mentions that you have had a positive impact on their life.”

Foster is an active member and former board member of Bottom Line, a program focused on increasing the graduation percentage of urban students. “I helped to start the organization back in 1997. At the time, around 30% of the high school graduates from Urban Boston who enrolled in college would ultimately attain a college degree. Since that time, students supported by Bottom Line are graduating at close to an 80% clip.” Bottom Line also assists students beyond college graduation with job and internship opportunities.

Feature photo provided courtesy of Boston Biz Journal