Creating an environment that promotes fairness, respect and appreciation of the similarities and differences of everyone is no easy feat. But for Andrew Davis, Coca-Cola’s new Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, it’s not only a necessary task; it's the future of business. Here, Davis shares his background and insights:

Tell us about your background.

I have been a part of the Coca-Cola family since 2007, holding various HR roles supporting Coca-Cola North America, Coca-Cola Refreshments and our Bottling Investments Group. Prior to joining Coke, I held leadership positions in the food/beverage and retail industry. I started my career off at Pizza Hut Restaurants in operations and found my passion in Human Resources during my time there. From there my career progressed in HR, and I’ve worked at Black Entertainment Television, Best Buy and The Home Depot.

I’ve enjoyed a great career with great companies, but could not pass on the opportunity to join an iconic brand like Coke.  I also knew Coke was one of the best companies to join if you wanted to experience the world, different people and different cultures.

As an executive with global experience, what are some of your biggest takeaways?

I recently spent nine months on an international assignment working in Southeast Asia and living in Cambodia.  Before I arrived in Cambodia, I considered myself pretty well travelled and senior enough to grasp a completely different culture, even one on the other side of the world. However, I quickly learned that you don’t know what you don’t know until you actually experience it. Living and working in Southeast Asia was an amazing life and career-enriching experience that has given me an even greater appreciation for diversity and Inclusion. 

In the United States, the diversity conversation is somewhat mature and refers to traditional and non-traditional focus areas such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, military status, disability, diversity of thought, to name a few.  In markets like Asia, the diversity conversation is still evolving and is mainly focused on gender and cultural diversity.  Understanding that every region brings its own unique way of doing business, and with that, a relative diversity approach, must guide us and be our lens as we take the diversity and inclusion conversation globally.

Lastly, my biggest lesson learned is that people are people wherever you go, and at our core, we need the same things. We need direction; which is leadership, we need to grow our capabilities; which is development and we need a great place to work; which is culture. Operating from this core principle is where Diversity and Inclusion can play a critical role.

What is your recipe for leadership success?

Leadership is an honor and privilege; it is not a title and not an entitlement. I know that in order to be considered a leader, I have to work to earn this privilege every day. I learned this very early in my career. This lesson has never left me and continues to ground me.  

What are you most excited about in your new role?

I’ve been a staunch supporter and implementer of the diversity and inclusion culture for my entire career. Coke has done a wonderful job of embracing diversity as a business imperative, and I am looking forward to expanding the conversation and philosophy around being an even more inclusive culture. I look forward to helping write the next chapter in our diversity and inclusion evolution.

All work and no play?

Not at all. I embrace fun and encourage my team to create an enjoyable environment. When I am not at work, I enjoy cycling, spending time at the beach (it’s in my blood, I was born and raised in Jamaica, West Indies), and I am an avid movie fan.

What’s your favorite Coke product?

Coke Zero has always been my go-to Coke beverage, but I have to tell you, since I’ve been in Cambodia I’ve discovered Samurai strawberry-flavored energy drink. I’ve had a can of it almost every day since! I will miss it!