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Coke puts Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives “On Pause” following departure of Top Lawyer


A week after the abrupt departure of powerhouse corporate attorney Bradley Gayton, who called for more diversity and inclusion within law firms and companies doing business with Coke, successor Monica Howard-Douglas announced that the company was putting those diversity plans “on pause” according to Law.com.

During a virtual meeting, Coke’s new general counsel, Howard-Douglas, addressed nearly 190 members of Coca-Cola Co.’s global legal team who hoped to gain answers to questions related to Gayton’s sudden resignation, the fate of the diversity initiatives he launched months earlier, why Gayton was going to serve as a consultant to Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey, and why Coca-Cola was paying Gayton $12 million over the next year as part of his consulting arrangement. Howard-Douglas was said to be “tight-lipped” on answers but did share with the team that they were “taking a pause for now” on the diversity initiatives introduced in January by Gayton. Howard-Douglas also told team members that the company would likely savage parts of the plan but did not go into details.

Managing IP reported that a company spokesperson shared with them the following: “When there is a leadership change, it takes time for the new leader to review the current status of the team, organisation and initiatives. Monica 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.”

In layperson terms, many following this issue say we should expect Coke’s landmark law firm diversity policies to soon follow its architect, Gayton, out the back door. Others say they hope Coke will continue to be a leader on this issue and use their huge platform for making these much-needed social changes that Gayton was championing during his short tenure.

SPOTLIGHT will continue to follow this story and bring you any new developments on Coke’s policy of diversity within the law firms and companies doing business with it.


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