Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent has topped an inaugural “power list” of multicultural business leaders published by executive search firm Audeliss.
The 2016 UPstanding Executive Power List, selected by a panel of judges representing different ethnicities and industries, highlights executives from diverse backgrounds who have taken actions to improve ethnic inclusion in the workplace and advance the profile of diverse leadership globally.
“I am pleased and honored to work alongside people of character from many nations and people groups,” Kent said. “To me, our headquarters looks like a miniature United Nations, and we're a much stronger business because of the contributions of all kinds of people from all across the world.”
The Financial Times profiled Kent – the New York-born son of a Turkish diplomat who was raised in Thailand, India, Iran and Turkey – in a special issue dedicated to diversity and workplace inclusion.
“Under his leadership over the past seven years, Coca-Cola’s multicultural workforce has reached 43 percent of the total in the U.S. from 40 percent in 2011,” FT writes. “More than half of the Atlanta-based company’s spending on communities goes to non-profit organizations focused on ethnic minorities, veterans, those with disabilities and the LGBT community.”
The article credits Kent with championing the 2012 creation of a multicultural leadership council, increasing the number of women on The Coca-Cola Company’s Board of Directors from two to four, and spearheading the launch of the 5by20 initiative to support the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs globally by 2020.
“Much of Mr. Kent’s work in diversity has been focused on women both inside the world’s largest drinks company and among its suppliers and customers in emerging market communities,” FT adds.