Imagine the power if, every year, the more than 700,000 associates in our system took one action that mitigated a human rights impact of our business, or improved the lives of the people in the communities in which they live.
We all have had “human rights moments,” both inside and outside the system. When was your first human rights moment? When was your most recent Coca‑Cola human rights moment?
When I was 10 years old, I had a human rights moment, but didn’t realize it at the time. I was visiting my cousin’s vineyard to help him harvest grapes. He needed seasonal, migrant labor to help during harvest season. After a day’s work, the migrants and their families cooked by campfire and slept on the ground or in their cars.
Even as a boy, this felt wrong to me. With money I earned over the next three years from a paper route, mowing lawns, shoveling snow—and a loan from my dad—my family built bunk houses and latrines that stand to this day for the migrant labor families.
Of course, at age 10, I was unaware of “human rights.” And I had never heard of the “Right to Housing” in Article 25 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What I intuitively understood is that we have a responsibility to speak up—and to act—when something is not right.
Respecting the basic human rights of all people around the world is a principle that’s easy to believe in, but often harder to make a reality. Yet, it is essential to sustaining the communities we serve and to our Company’s future.
Since I joined The Coca‑Cola Company in 2005, I’ve experienced many human rights moments. In business, as in life, doing the right thing is often not convenient or easy. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
In fact, it’s what we—and our great Company—stand for.
Ed Potter is director of global workplace rights at The