At the end of last year, I announced my intention not to stand for reelection to the Board at the 2019 Annual Meeting. It has been my honor to serve as a Director of The
I am pleased with our accomplishments as a Company, including the Board’s partnership with management in long-term value creation for our shareowners. Most recently, the Board has provided oversight and guidance during the Company’s evolution as a total beverage company.
This included ensuring an orderly and seamless management succession process, with James Quincey now set to succeed Muhtar Kent as Chairman following the 2019 Annual Meeting, assuming James’ reelection. I know that I speak for the entire Board when I express sincere thanks to Muhtar for his outstanding leadership as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Company, including his role in the transition to new leadership.
Together, Muhtar and James have led the effort to successfully position the business for continued growth. They have done this in a sustainable manner by maintaining focus on doing business the
right way. In addition, they have assured that the
before. We have great confidence in James and the very capable management team he has put in place to steward the Company going forward.
As I retire, I can assure shareowners that this is a well-functioning Board comprised of highly capable Directors with the right mix of skills to work closely with management to help this business succeed.
It has been a priority of mine as Lead Independent Director to ensure that the Board has the right experience and the sound judgment to effectively represent the interests of shareowners and work with management to assure that we have the culture and strategy in place for sustainable success. We have instituted Board refreshment steps that include a robust Director selection process and regular Board, committee and Director evaluations.
I am particularly proud that in the last five years, five new Directors have been elected. If shareowners elect the nominees listed in this Proxy Statement, the average tenure for our Directors will stand at 10 years, and our Board’s gender diversity average will be 38%. Our Board is now younger and more diverse with a strong reservoir of experience.
The Board, with great confidence, plans to assign the responsibility of Lead Independent Director to Mel Lagomasino. I want to briefly share what I believe this role means for the Company and for Board governance.
The Lead Independent Director plays a key role in helping guide the Board as it exercises its core duties in overseeing the Company’s performance; strategic planning; risk management; succession planning; and talent development for senior executive positions.
The Lead Independent Director provides a key point of contact at the Board level for shareowners; leads the performance evaluation of the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; leads the annual Board evaluation process; and plays a key role in Board and management succession. The full set of responsibilities appears on page 28 of the Proxy Statement.
In cases where the role of the Chairman is combined with the role of Chief Executive Officer, many of our investors have said that a Lead Independent Director with clearly defined responsibilities provides an important, independent balance. As a Board, we agree. This will be the case once again when James and Mel, if reelected, become Chairman and Lead Independent Director, respectively, in April.
We know that the Board leadership structure is an important issue for many shareowners. Our Board believes that ensuring strong, independent Board leadership is a crucial requirement to building long-term shareowner value. Today, we believe the Company’s traditional Board leadership structure with a combined Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, alongside a strong Lead Independent Director, will deliver the best results for our business and our shareowners.
I am grateful for the trust you have placed in me as a member of the Board of this great Company. Thank you for your support and for your interest and investment in The