Little to no diversity in top management in Georgia big companies
With the race and gender of the workforce within corporate America being a hot button topic that is often in the media, many consumers may be surprised to learn that major companies, including some right here in Georgia, are lacking in diversity when it comes to mid management and executive positions within their various offices.
Recent revelations from some of Georgia’s biggest corporations revealed what many people of color already knew, the higher you go up the food chain within corporate America, the whiter the upper-level positions become with diversity or concerns related to racial makeup becoming lost.
In most companies, Black people and Latinos occupy lower positions, while their supervisors and others on the top floor tend not to look like them. Though most companies talk a good game when it comes to diversity and inclusion, looking at the makeup of their corporate structure tells a different story on a well-kept secret that is not so secret.
Names referenced in a recent AJC article include such companies as Home Depot, Coca-Cola, and Delta Airline, but we know there are more. It is startling that some of the big names are based right here in Georgia and within metro Atlanta, which is supposed to represent a city of opportunity for people of color. Among the 118 senior executives at Coke that are based in the U.S., only seven are Black.
A lack of diversity should be troubling for the CEOs of these companies who count on Black people and Latinos to be consumers of their goods, products, and services. To catch the attention of this consumer group, they hire large ad agencies to create ads that feature diversity along with a catchy jingle, while that same level of diversity is not reflected in the boardrooms of these same companies.
Instead of million-dollar ad buys, a novel idea would be for these companies to create ‘real’ mentoring programs focused on increasing diversity in their senior and executive level workforce.
Many of these companies have jumped on the bandwagon to hire chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officers, which is great. However, many have publicly said diversity within their senior ranks is a long range plan, instead of short term or immediate. They point to the year 2025 or 2030 to implement changes that could occur tomorrow if they had the heart and will to make the changes happen. Many do not possess either.
Last year, Coke hired a top executive of color, Attorney Bradley Gayton, who came to the company in September and began shaking things up as it relates to diversity. With his executive position, Gayton was using it to demand changes in how the company was doing business, who it was doing business with, and how to increase diversity participation.
Seven months after Gayton joined the company, Coca-Cola Co announced they were moving their top lawyer into a new role as a strategic consultant to the CEO to drive certain key objectives. We can guess that diversity was not listed among those objectives. Instead of embracing what Gayton was doing to change the narrative at the company, those in the top positions of power and the corporate boardrooms felt threatened.
While people of color watched, Coke jettisoned Gayton from his leadership role within the company while flashy diversity ads played on TV and were placed in magazines and on billboards. Coke sent a message to those within the company and the world without ever uttering a word regarding how they really feel about diversity. These are the same folks who would like us to believe that diversity is a key factor for them.
Some say Gayton’s ideas of increasing diversity within Coke and the companies that do business with the corporate giant were ‘too radical’ for the top brass. Why is diversity considered radical?
Other companies have not done much better than Coke. At UPS, 20% of the senior executive posts were held by Black people; Aflac has 16%; the PulteGroup has 4%; Home Depot has 10% and Delta has 7%. Consumers of color should take note and demand that the companies they do business with break the glass ceiling when it comes to diversity.