Coca-Cola has temporarily abandoned a company diversity plan that is considered controversial as it has been accused of going against the Civil Rights Act.
In January, the general counsel for Coca-Cola, Bradley Gayton, announced a new diversity plan. The said plan would have punished outside law firms who want to work with the beverage company.
In the said plan, such firms would have to use “diverse attorneys” for a minimum of 30% of their billable hours with Coca-Cola. Half of the said attorneys must be black. The firms that don’t meet the said requirements would have to face a financial punishment.
In April, Boyden Gray wrote on behalf of the Project on Fair Representation. He said that the “policy of discrimination” is against the law. He also demanded it to be revoked. Gray said that this requirement violated the law that bans hiring practices that are discriminating against race.
Gray also mentioned that Coca-Cola was aware that these requirements are “indefensible” due to Gayton’s sudden departure as the company’s general counsel. According to Bloomberg Law, Gayton now has a consultant role worth $12 million.
New General Counsel for Coca-Cola to Review Plan
Now, the company’s newly hired general counsel, Monica Howard Douglas, is reviewing the plan Gayton put into place. She had also paused the policy related to it for the meantime.
The details of Gayton’s departure remain unclear, and Douglas also hasn’t addressed it. However, a spokesperson for the company said the pause in enacting the policy is related to Douglas becoming the new general counsel.
Last February, the beverage company was also scrutinized after several employees were known to have completed an online training course on racial sensitivity. The said course reportedly taught its participants on how to become “less white.”
Coca-Cola explained that they do not have the said online course in their internal training curriculum. Instead, it was a public LinkedIn course. Although, the company failed to clarify if they forced the employees to go through the said training course.