Coca-Cola Diversity Coca-Cola Has Faced Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:

One way that Coca-Cola could have avoided the lawsuit, then, would have been to enforce its existing regulations concerning diversity. The evidence supported that these codes were ignored, even at the senior management level. In addition, the acrimonious relationship between primarily white managers and primarily black workers should have been an indication that there were issues of discrimination.

Aside from taking recognizing troubles and reacting early, there are systemic ways that Coca-Cola could have addressed the situation. During the trial, a number of statistics were introduced in support of the claimants. These included numbers on blacks being dismissed vs. whites being dismissed and figures concerning promotions. Coca-Cola could have recognized the situation in advance by setting up utilizing these types of metrics to understand the impact of its human resources policies.

In addition, Coca-Cola could have avoided the issue by enforcing its existing codes. Senior management did not appear to take the issue seriously, however, until the courts compelled them to financially. The memo from Kevin Johnson that was roundly ignored was not likely the first instance of somebody within the company attempting to address the issue with senior management. Commitment from senior management to improving diversity and ending discrimination is the cornerstone of any policy, and at Coca-Cola it was lacking.

Tied to the senior management problems was the lack of diversity among senior management. This led the other managers to ignore Mr. Johnson, whose views did not fit with their culture. However, increasing diversity in the senior ranks must go beyond hiring policies. A mentorship program could have helped Coca-Cola to identify potential candidates and bring them along until they were ready to enter senior management. This would have given Coca-Cola a more diverse senior management team, one less likely to dismiss discrimination complaints.

Lastly, Coca-Cola could have avoided the problem by leaving less to chance in its promotion policies. The discrimination issues arose in the first place because Coca-Cola left promotion and dismissal to the subjective judgment of low-level managers. A recommended approach would have been to set guidelines more in line with performance measures than subjective measures. This would also have given the company some evidence to support a contention that they have not been engaging in discrimination.

Crisis of Leadership

The discrimination lawsuit faced by Coca-Cola was a crisis of leadership. While the core problems cited in the lawsuit pertained mainly to low-level employees and their low-level managers, these problems were a manifestation of broader issues that went right to the top of the company. The corporate culture at Coca-Cola supported discrimination. The low-level managers were never sanctioned or even investigated for their behaviors, and senior management ignored opportunities to address the issue even after they were made aware of it. At no level of management did Coca-Cola take the issues of discrimination and workplace diversity seriously. The result was a costly lawsuit and a shift in the way management approached the issue.

The managers act in the best interests of the shareholders. To their credit, managers at Coca-Cola understood that the problem was not simply a few bad-apple low-level managers, but that the problem was endemic and systemic. They tackled the problem using a wide range of strategies. They addressed some of the systemic issues, which had resulted from outmoded human resources policies. They also addressed the issue of culture. Senior management was the first group to embrace the power of workforce diversity. Once that group supported the diversity initiatives, the attitude began to diffuse throughout the organization. Coca-Cola recognized correctly that change on the scale that was needed at their company needed to come from the top.

As a result, senior management at Coca-Cola today takes a progressive view of diversity in the workforce. The company is committed to not only providing opportunities for minorities but is also active in building the skills of minorities so that they can become viable candidates in the future. This policy has helped Coca-Cola to increase its managerial diversity, which should contribute to making diversity a key part of the company's culture going forward.

Managing the Crisis

Coca-Cola handled the diversity crisis well. The company settled the issue and adopted several court-approved measures. More importantly, they took the discrimination suit to heart rather than reacting negatively to it. Over time, the company built its competencies in encouraging diversity and implemented the systems necessary to manage the issue. There were some criticisms early on in the process, such as a report in 2002 that there was still significant discord among black employees (White, 2002). However, those issues appear to have been resolved. The company may not have moved immediately on all areas, which could have contributed to the complaints. However, organizational cultures do not change quickly, particularly if there is employment protection for managers that are the source of problems.

The company did, however, persist in consultations with experts and made the right steps to build the infrastructure and gradually change the corporate culture. As a result, the incidence of complaints has been reduced in recent years and the company has been lauded for its ability to turn around its diversity policies. Coca-Cola has set a goal of being a leader among the Fortune 500 in diversity programs and has continued to act proactively to promote diversity not only internally but among its peers. There is little fault to be found with the way Coca-Cola reacted to its discrimination lawsuit.


Coca-Cola at the time of the 2000 lawsuit was a company notorious for a poor track record of diversity. The lawsuit was, in essence, a culmination of a number of issues, all of them leading back to senior management. Rather than scapegoat the lower-level managers who were at the focus of the lawsuit, Coca-Cola senior management accepted culpability for their role in creating a culture that allowed such discriminatory practices to occur.

After the settlement, the company embarked on a program to radically reshape its corporate culture and eliminate opportunities for systemic discrimination. These steps took a few years to become fully implemented but by the middle of the decade were paying dividends. Coca-Cola has since become known as a leader in diversity, representing an about-face from where the company stood ten years. They achieved this success through a combination of a number of tactics. Senior management buy-in was critical. They made promotion and raises based on objective rather than subjective measures. They implemented company-wide diversity training and increased corporate communications regarding diversity in order to better diffuse the new cultural norm. The result has been a total transformation and the absence of further lawsuits.

Works Cited:

Lovel, J. (2003). Race discrimination suit targets Coke bottle CCE. Atlanta Business Journal. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from

King, A. (2001). Coca-Cola takes the high road -- race-based employment discrimination suit. Black Enterprise. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from

No author. (2002). Coretha Rushing's formula for diversity: Forge close relationships, mutual respect and don't fear criticism. Knowledge @ Emory. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from

White, B. (2002). Black Coca-Cola workers still angry. Washington Post. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from

Diversity Inc. (2007). No. 4 The Coca-Cola Company. Diversity Inc. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from

Dobbin, F., Kalev, A., & Kelly, E. (2007). Diversity management in corporate America. Contexts. Vol 6 (4) 21-27.

Levit, N. (2008). Mega-cases, diversity and the elusive goal of workplace reform. BE Press. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from

Cullen, L. (2007). Employee diversity training doesn't work. Time Magazine. Retrieved April 12,…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Coca-Cola Diversity Coca-Cola Has Faced" (2010, April 12) Retrieved December 4, 2016, from

"Coca-Cola Diversity Coca-Cola Has Faced" 12 April 2010. Web.4 December. 2016. <>

"Coca-Cola Diversity Coca-Cola Has Faced", 12 April 2010, Accessed.4 December. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Diversity Audit the Coca Cola Company Is

    Diversity Audit The Coca Cola Company is well-known for its commitment to diversity. The Company has a workforce where almost half the employees are women. However, their representation on the senior management levels is only 26%. The company also recruits racial minorities and members from the LGBT community. The company has institutional mechanisms to ensure that workforce diversity is respected and appreciated throughout the organization. Senior managers demonstrate their commitment to

  • Coca Cola Strategic Plan the Coca Cola

    Coca Cola Strategic Plan The Coca Cola Company embodies American ingenuity and capitalism. Since its inception in 1887, Coca Cola has provided happiness and prosperity to the world. Now, 125 years later, the Coca Cola Company has over 100,000 employees and nearly 3500 soft drink brands (1). What has made the Coca Cola Company so unique is its brand image. The Coca Cola brand is very important to the overall business success

  • Coca Cola Australia Ads Soft

    (Conniptions886 2009). Again the ad stresses the outdoor beach culture among those who have the means and leisure to enjoy it. Coca Cola ads have not seemed to change that much over time. They have sacrificed expressing multiculturalism, without popular exception to build a following for their target market. One comparison ad done by Pepsi and much more reflective of diversity, and especially the diversity of the urban culture is

  • Coca Cola Business and Operations

    Coca-Cola leads the world's beverage industry with as many as 400 products and has its presence globally in more than 200 countries. In addition to this, Coca-Cola collaborates with some 320 licenses to produce more than 10000 products in 57 countries. Products range from fashion apparel to holiday decorations and even a Coca-Cola Picnic Barbie doll. Every year, licensees sell 50 million licensed Coca-Cola products. Internal Business Environment Core Activities For over 100

  • Coca Cola s Strategies Coca Cola s Business Strategy Is

    Coca-Cola's Strategies Coca Cola's business strategy is built upon differentiation. It uses both types of differentiation, quality and branding, to set itself apart from its competition. The success of Coca Cola is literally built upon the strength of the Coke brand, even though Coca Cola now markets thousands of products in addition to the original Coca Cola. This branding has proven a significant source of the company's strength, as seen when

  • Coca Cola s Philanthropic Practices as a Successful Organizational...

    Coca-Cola's Philanthropic Practices as a Successful Organizational Behavior Coca-cola is an immensely successful corporation, and a large part of that success is owing to unbeatable brand recognition. No one asks for an "RC Cola," whereas everyone asks for a "Coke." Coke, a private brand, has become synonymous with that particular type of beverage -- something against which PepsiCola has had to struggle during its entire existence, especially in the United States. But

  • Coca Cola Business Case Study

    Lastly, there were also the issues that had long since followed the brand that Martin, reports on his article that deal with consumer concerns regarding past business practices, tainted soda cans and prejudice against Coke employees. If I were the CEO of Coke, there are quite a few things that I would change within the structure of the company, branding and techniques. The first thing that I would do is

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved