Alexis Schauer - HR Project Specialist

Published on : 6/27/24
  • It is not uncommon for some women to experience doubt and insecurity in the workplace—especially in industries that have been traditionally male-dominated. And while Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has come a long way in industry, how we can show up as our most authentic selves remains a challenge.

    For Alexis Schauer, who was not only new to the Energy & Resources industry in 2008 but also her role in facilities management, she faced what many queer women in industry do.  

    “Not only was I a young, blonde, female leader faced with the stereotypical discrimination that comes with how I presented, but I was leading a double life. It wasn’t only mentally and emotionally taxing, but impairing my quality of life,” Alexis shared. 

    “My worst fear was that my identity would overshadow my professional contributions.

    “Of course, over my years of experience with Sodexo, however, I realised that my identity is one of my greatest strengths.” 

    During her IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia) Toolbox in 2023, Alexis came out to her team while sharing the importance of inclusion and Pride in the workplace. 

    “I’d prepared myself for the worst. For team members to recoil or react—but after it happened I had so many people coming up to me and recognising my honesty,” she said. 

    “Of course, I had come out to some of my colleagues already but in a controlled way. The scale of this meant that I couldn’t take it back. And I didn’t want to.”  

    Pride in the workplace

    Alexis had always let the quality of her work speak for itself. Having previously worked in hotel chains working with owners to enhance operations before transitioning into Sodexo and working her way up through various positions, Alexis brought with her the fundamental belief that belonging fosters high performing teams. 

    “I have always believed in a people-first approach. That means managing teams without bias and basing our success on what each individual can bring to the table,” she said.

    “The team mentality and inclusion at Sodexo lends itself to this—we all move forward together.” 

    As a process-driven individual, Alexis has driven a number of changes at a site level which have formed the basis of processes, reporting, and management today in Sodexo. 

    Psychosocial safety 

    When thinking about safety on site, Alexis considers psychological safety to be ‘one of the big threes’—not just in Sodexo, but industry-wide. 

    Alexis is passionate about creating a positive and inclusive culture on site, where everyone feels valued and respected. She believes that fostering a sense of belonging and community among the residents and team is crucial for their psychosocial wellbeing.

    She also encourages open and honest communication and feedback and strives to build trust and rapport with her colleagues and clients.

    “It’s easy for people to default to what is tangible—that is, physical wellbeing and treating what they can see. But working away from home on long shifts takes its toll, and holistic welfare is so important,” she said. 

    During her time in industry, Alexis has seen many people struggle with their wellbeing while on-site. What she is most proud of is having seen the transition industry has made to accommodate and promote better conditions and support for resident’s psychosocial health—from swing adjustments to the launch of Social Hubs. 

    “In a male-dominated industry where there is a lot of isolation working FIFO (Fly-In, Fly-Out), there is a stigma around mental health that we are working through,” Alexis said. 

    “It can only improve with visible leadership, tangible examples, and champions in the business who make talking about psychosocial wellbeing less of a daunting thing.” 

    Lifting each other up

    If Alexis’s personal style is leading from behind and giving the team the support to push ahead, then it comes as no surprise that she has had a profound impact on the development of dozens of Sodexo teammates. 

    “I've always said if I influence one person, I've done my job, because that one will influence two and so on and so forth,” she said. 

    “But along the way I've been fortunate enough to have influenced a fair few people to be better individuals, for themselves. I think that's what I more pride myself on—it is not necessarily developing the best worker, but the best human.”

    Alexis’s mentorship has only been enhanced since coming out at work, being her most authentic self in front of her team. 

    “The same way it’s important to have visible, diverse leadership in terms of gender, it is also important to have visible diverse leadership across all areas of DEI. I am proud to be a lesbian leader in Sodexo,” she said. 

    “Visibility is crucial in creating an inclusive and supportive workplace and we must actively listen to and learn from employees to foster truly inclusive environments.

    “I think it’s great to have people share the parts of themselves that they have kept secret—but of course, it has to be on their terms. I came out at work because it was the right time for me, and I felt I could make a difference sharing my story.”

    Alexis has recently completed her Masters in Business (Administrative). After 16 years with Sodexo and the personal and professional growth that has come with it, she is taking on her next challenge externally. Sodexo thanks Alexis for her service and being a role model to the next generation. 

    Her pride, authenticity, and support as a leader has touched hundreds of team members.

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