How can the next generation change our culture to solve social problems? In this special episode of Add Passion and Stir made possible by generous support from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, Gerri Mason Hall, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Sodexo and Chair of the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, and Derek Brown, owner of Columbia Room in Washington DC, have a lively discussion about diversity and inclusion, young leaders, culture change, and classic cocktails. Mason Hall, Brown and hosts Share Our Strength co-founders Debbie and Billy Shore believe that the fresh, uncynical passion of our youth can solve major social problems. The recent activity around gun control is a prime example. “One of the most exciting things is the fresh eyes to an approach at problem solving,” says Mason Hall, who focuses on enabling young people through Sodexo’s work and the No Kid Hungry Youth Ambassador Program. Brown is proud that he empowers his employees to protect others, working closely with Collective Action for Safe Spaces to train employees about recognizing and intervening when they see sexual harassment or violence. Billy Shore shares their hopefulness about youth changing the future. “Sometimes there’s an advantage to ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’…you don’t get discouraged, you don’t get disappointed, you think everything can change,” he says.
Both guests also value culture change. Mason Hall has spent decades building a culture of diversity and inclusion at Sodexo. “In the early 2000s, the emphasis was on representation – especially women and minorities – in the workplace… Now we’re not just focused on numbers coming in, but how inclusive is the culture,” she explains. She relishes playing the role of mentor for a younger generation and helping them turn their vision into change. “It is this diversity of thought that together will help us innovate and solve these problems,” she says. Brown is noted for creating change in how the next DC generation feels about alcohol through his emphasis on well-made culinary cocktails. “We’re really turning drinking more into a ritual…you’re not focusing on quantity, you’re focusing on quality,” he says. A historian of alcohol, he describes its place in American culture. “Our culture has a particular relationship with alcohol… and we have changed it through creating these cocktail bars that are a little different,” he believes.
Share in this informative and fun conversation between two leaders mentoring the next generation in their respective fields.