Andrew Davis and Sandy Douglas
The phrase, “We live as many, we stand as one,” was first created by The Coca-Cola Company on September 13, 2001, in response to 9/11.
Coca-Cola employees gathered recently at the company's global headquarters in Atlanta for a "Stand as One" listening session hosted by Sandy Douglas, president, Coca-Cola North America, and Andrew Davis, global chief diversity & inclusion officer. The session recapped actions The Coca-Cola Company and its associates have taken to promote diversity and drive an inclusive culture throughout all facets of the business. 

Andrew Davis
Andrew Davis, chief diversity and inclusion officer, spoke to associates in September about the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts in 2017.
Davis was clear about Coca-Cola’s philosophy on diversity and inclusion, noting that the company has a clear and defined policy. The policy is based on the idea that respect for human rights is fundamental to the sustainability of The Coca-Cola Company and the communities in which it operates.

Davis listed the various ways in which the company has been at work supporting issues of equality for all. For example, the company has voiced its position on numerous recent public policy issues, including travel restrictions, transgender service in the military, situations in Charlottesville and Orlando, and most recently, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Coca-Cola also signed The White House Equal Pay Pledge, the CEO Action and Diversity Inclusion Pledge, and The Catalyst CEO Champions for Change Pledge to support diversity and inclusion causes.

These positions have reiterated the company’s core belief that any policies that discriminate are contrary to Coca-Cola’s core values and also negatively affect the lives of associates, consumers, customers, suppliers and partners.

“What we really want to do is to bring about change,” Douglas said. Noting that sometimes change can be brought about through public statements, he pointed out that it’s important to work together with people, organizations, businesses, and governments who can help push forward positive change.

In addition to recognizing all the work the company has done around stances on specific causes outside of the company, Davis spent time talking about an internal pilot initiative called Stand as One Circles, spearheaded by the women’s LINC BRG.

The Stand as One Circles provide associates an opportunity to connect with a diverse group of employees to discuss relevant diversity and cultural issues in an open environment. Based on positive feedback from the participants of the original Stand as One Circles, the team is working on version 2.0, which will be introduced later this year.

Watch the video below to see how Stand as One Circles have increased awareness of diversity and culture among associates:

Associates Drive Diversity and Inclusion

Tonya Walker, president of the African-American BRG and Sandip Patel
Tonya Walker, president of the African-American BRG and Sandip Patel, vice president of the Asian BRG, recently dined at each other’s homes to learn about each other’s cultures.
“If it is to be, it’s up to me” is something of a mantra at Coke. And it’s evident that associates have taken the message to heart in order to further diversity and inclusion, both in the workplace and in their personal lives.

Hundreds of associates have joined various company Business Resource Groups (BRGs) to help keep dialogue open and to encourage conversations around culture and diversity.

In fact, the desire to learn more about diversity and inclusion issues has led many associates and some teams, through a company sponsorship, to visit the nearby Center for Civil and Human Rights and learn more about our nation and our city’s civil-rights history.

And noticing people’s curiosity and desire to learn about these issues, leaders such as Julie Seitz and Bhupesh Patel have held their own listening sessions with their teams. These conversations provided space for employees to talk about their experiences and allowed their teams to better understand one another.

When Employees and Leadership Come Together

The Stand as One session again demonstrated that the company is at its best when employees are empowered. A question about the lack of diversity reflected in the artwork on campus during the previous Stand as One session resulted in a new series of exhibits that highlights important topics like women’s history, including an exhibit on Coca-Cola and women in advertising.

Humberto García-Sjögrim
In the session, Douglas made clear that employees like Humberto García-Sjögrim, who are willing to raise their hand and help the company move forward, are important to the company’s progress in the Diversity and Inclusion space.
Listening sessions also allow for real-time dialogue between associates and leadership around current events. With the continuing national debate surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the fate of some 800,000 DACA enrollees – known as “Dreamers” – dominating headlines, Humberto García-Sjögrim, assistant vice president, Supplier Diversity Strategy, asked about the company’s support for a business-leader letter to Congress calling for bipartisan legislation to preserve DACA. In close collaboration with Public Affairs & Communications colleagues, who were already in contact with organizers of the effort, review of the letter was accelerated. By the end of day, the company had proudly joined with more than 800 other private sector signatories calling for congressional action to preserve the DACA program.

“We continue to produce these Stand as One town halls for moments just like the one today regarding our position on DACA,” said Davis after the event. “I am inspired daily by the ideas and passion our employees bring to our business and issues of equality and inclusion. This passion allows us to address concerns head on and resolve issues that matter to people. Ultimately, driving a more inclusive culture in our company.

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