I welcome scrutiny of Coca-Cola Co.'s policies and practices in every respect, including as a responsible corporate citizen and employer ("Coke: Say good-bye to the good ol' boy culture," News: Analysis & Commentary, May 29). We already have designed and launched several new initiatives--and there is more to come.
I suggest that your story did not fairly portray the historic record of this company. I believe we need to be better than we have been. I also believe we have been better than a reader of your piece might have concluded.
Your story challenges the company to "become a model for diversity in corporate America," to undergo a cultural overhaul, and to match its considerable financial incentives with real organizational changes--in essence, to create a Texaco-type turnaround.
But Coca-Cola is not Texaco. And contrary to writer Dean Foust's suggestions, which include adopting Texaco's independent oversight panel concept to review all of Coke's employment decisions, the most important ingredient for the successful turnaround of a company's culture is not another management review committee but the committed leadership of the CEO.
Based upon my involvement with top management at Coca-Cola, I am convinced that, like Texaco's managers, they are committed to changing the culture of the company in a manner that will make it a model of a diversity-sensitive company.
As a Washington attorney specializing in corporate diversity counseling, I assisted Texaco's Peter Bijur and have since assisted several other CEOs faced with class-action race discrimination cases in addressing their diversity problems. The most successful were those that made a "real" commitment to develop and implement comprehensive programs. For any such diversity program to be successful, management must be held accountable for the program's overall results.
Coca-Cola will become a model for diversity in America because CEO Douglas Daft and his management team have made it very clear that "the buck stops here."
Weldon H. Latham