Is Coca-Cola right to ask their employees to be 'less white'?
- Coca-Cola is an American company founded in 1892 that creates the popular carbonated beverage, Coca-cola, but also 2,800 other products that are sold in over 200 countries. It is the “largest beverage manufacturer and distributor in the world.”
- The brand is valued at $71 billion and the global net operating revenue totals $37.266 million.
- Coca-Cola was criticized for its diversity training urging employees to be “less white” in certain slides with tips like “be less oppressive, less arrogant, more humble, listen, and believe.” The training exercise is based on Robin DiAngelo’s book, “White Fragility” and is titled “Confronting Racism.”
- A spokesperson for the drink brand said that course is only part of their online training and the slides in question are accessible via LinkedIn Learning. Their “Better Together learning curriculum is part of a plan to build an inclusive workplace.”
- A 2020 Harvard Business Review study found that when participants were told a company held conservative values, it was more negatively perceived, but when they were told a company held liberal values, their opinions remained neutral.
Coca-Cola is in a unique position to help racial justice in America and are right to work toward the goal of a more equitable society. Coca-Cola employs more than 700,000 workers across many locations, meaning that training programs could impact communities far and wide. According to Gallup, most Americans have changed their opinions on racial justice, with many getting involved personally following a year of social unrest. Coca-Cola is demonstrating that it stands with the majority of Americans who want racial progress. Further, Coca-Cola took stances in the past on other issues, such as when the company halted Facebook advertising to pressure the platform to prevent hate speech. Not only is this good for society, but it could be good for business, drawing customers who identify with the brand's goals.
While some individuals have cried foul on social media, it's worth considering a few facts about the training. The training was created by well-known author and academic Robin DiAngelo, who has been celebrated for her insights into racism. According to Snopes, the training was not mandatory but offered to interested employees. Finally, the training asks individuals to be 'less oppressive,' 'less arrogant,' and 'less ignorant.' Surely we can all agree that a more compassionate, understanding, and engaged society would benefit all.
In 1957, Coca-Cola began featuring African Americans in their advertising, with Mary Alexander being the first female African American. Since then, the company has frequently featured African American actors, dancers, musicians, and others in their ads. It makes sense that the company would give back to their communities.
It is inappropriate and wrong to ask any person to deny their race or heritage, yet that is what Coca-Cola recently did, requesting its employees to be 'less white.' This perpetuates the poisonous and racist idea that being Caucasian automatically means something negative about one's character. As recently illustrated by the company's training, which offered instructions to 'be less arrogant, be less certain, be less defensive,' and so on. This is absolutely 'white shaming,' perfectly explained by activist Nigel Farage who said, 'The inference here is clear, isn't it? That white is bad; white means supremacist […] white means you are guilty!'
Candace Owens, an outspoken critic of DiAngelo and Kendi's touted 'anti-racist' ideological industry, pointed out that had the soft drink company requested employees to be 'less black' or 'less Asian,' the backlash would be horrendous, as it should be. The idea behind the recent inclusivity 'training' also forces employees to agree with the idea that systemic racism is an issue in our country, which is an opinion. This type of 'cancel culture' must stop, especially considering that Coca-Cola's claim attacked the approximately 76% of Americans who identify as 'white alone.'
Despite the apparent goal of the training, Coca-Cola was only successful in being divisive regarding equality. It is absolutely possible to be prejudice towards any group of people, which is what the company did towards Caucasians. Even worse, it claimed that white people feel 'inherently superior.' Perhaps if modern media stopped the endless claims regarding inequality, maybe future generations would not think in such a way that advocates racially-based perceptions. The course was titled 'Confronting Racism,' demonstrating that the corporation is apparently clueless in dealing with the issue by blatantly stereotyping an entire race.