Woca Cola

Coca-Cola is apparently demanding white employees complete online training to enable them to become “less white.”

Why not give the majority of all employees the benefit of the doubt that they are fair minded individuals who respect their colleagues in the workplace regardless of identity. Aren’t 360 degree reviews supposed to nut out trouble makers or underperformers, whatever background they may come from? Isn’t that the best outcome for all?

Good companies should always be seeking to work toxic employees off their platform should the pernicious behaviours create negative outcomes for other staff members, suppliers or clients.

Good managers pay close attention to staff behaviour in the workplace. In our own careers we all know of people in our companies that positively create energy and those who drain it. Bad employees are just that, regardless of identity.

The more important question is whether decent, hard working minorities who back their ability, demanded Coca-Cola conduct the training? Have they gone out of their way to make claims of racism to HR about their white colleagues acting too white? Most likely not. This is another one-size-fits-all program which makes out that groups are monoliths.

Interestingly, Coca-Cola has made much fanfare of its long history of diversity and inclusion, going back to 1934 with the appointment of the first female board member, Lettie Pate Evans.

In its Human Rights Policy, Coca-Cola acknowledges,

We work to maintain workplaces that are free from discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, sex, color, national or social origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identification or expression, political opinion or any other status protected by applicable law. The basis for recruitment, hiring, placement, development, training, compensation and advancement at the Company is qualifications, performance, skills and experience…

So if the very policy is to respect ‘all’, why single out one group to be less white? What is next? Men required to be less toxic? Tall people to walk on their knees?

Coca-Cola has a plan to make women 50% of the managerial class in the company. Shareholders would gladly welcome 100% female managers should they be best suited to the roles were it based on “qualifications, performance, skills and experience…

As it should be.

What a slap in the face to all those deserving employees – who can make it on meritocracy alone – effectively be told by the company that unless whites are forced to behave less white that path for success will be harder. Basically, the suggestion is that they need a leg up.

Surely if Coca-Cola had executed 130 years of self-proclaimed continuous diversity and inclusion in the workplace ethos it wouldn’t need to introduce such training. Period. The company should evaluate the systemic failures within HR, not the employees.

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