The Coca-Cola Company found itself at the center of controversy earlier this year when reports alleged that an online diversity training seminar sponsored by the company had encouraged employees to “try to be less white.”
Now, the Washington Examiner reports that the man who designed the beverage company’s diversity policies has “abruptly resigned,” putting a halt to the training program, at least for the time being.
According to the Examiner, Coca-Cola general counsel Bradley Gayton left his job in April, and has since been replaced by Monica Howard Douglas.
Gayton will reportedly remain with Coca-Cola in an advisory capacity.
“A crisis on our hands”
Among the initiatives championed by Gayton was a policy boycotting outside law firms that did not comply with Coca-Cola’s demands regarding racial diversity.
According to the Examiner, in order to qualify for the soft drink giant’s business, a firm would be required to show that a minimum of 30% of its billing time was going to “diverse attorneys,” of whom at least 50% had to be Black lawyers.
“The hard truth is that our profession is not treating the issue of diversity and inclusion as a business imperative,” Gayton said in February, as the Examiner reported.
“We have a crisis on our hands, and we need to commit ourselves to specific actions that will accelerate the diversity of the legal profession,” he added.
As Fox Business reported back in February, part of Coca-Cola’s employee training on diversity insisted that white people in the U.S. and elsewhere are “socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white,” and urged workers to “break with white solidarity.”
It’s expected that a new diversity program will soon be set up by Gayton’s replacement, who will reportedly “review the current status of the team, organization, and initiatives” before moving forward.
According to the Examiner, a company spokesperson said Monica Howard Douglas “is fully committed to the notions of equity and diversity in the legal profession, and we fully expect she will take the time necessary to thoughtfully review any plans going forward.”
Reports noted that Coca-Cola, an Atlanta-based company, also came under fire in recent months for its staunch rebuke of a new election integrity law in Georgia. A poll published by Rasmussen last month showed more than a third of Americans are now buying less Coke because they disagree with the company’s political agenda.