An inclusive culture has always been essential to Coca-Cola’s business success. Long before ‘diversity’ became a buzzword, the company’s 1969 “Boys on the Bench” print advert featured a fully integrated scene of African-American and white kids sitting on a park bench in New York drinking Coca-Cola together and laughing.

More recently, at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the focus has been on building an increasingly diverse workforce and like many companies, we started by focusing on gender equality. When our Sustainability Action Plan – This is Forward – launched in 2017, we linked our Action on People to UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality and committed to make sure that women would hold at least 40% of our management positions by 2025.

Now we talk about Inclusion and Diversity (not the other way around) to reflect the importance of being inclusive first. We have invested in training a team of over 100 #JustBe ambassadors, women and men from across our business who have volunteered to build an inclusive workplace culture under the banner ‘Be Yourself, Be Valued, Belong’. We want to ensure that all our people can perform their best at work, so we can leverage talent from all walks of life and reflect the real experiences and perspectives of the communities where we operate.

In practice, this means our ambassadors acknowledge five main areas: gender, culture & heritage, multi-generations, LGBTI+, and abilities (incorporating mental health, neurodiversity and disabilities). We reflect this by celebrating a range of events through the year, including Diwali, Pride, Black History Month, Mental Health Awareness Week and International Men’s Day.

Within the supply-chain, our demands for technical skills and shift working seem to attract more male than female applicants, so we are redressing the balance. At our Wakefield facility, for example, we advertised for female forklift truck drivers and, for the first time, the role included driver training.

Another way CCEP is demonstrating these values is by supporting The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge.

At the inaugural event in 2019 we fielded a team of ten – comprising women and men, older and younger, long-serving and ‘newbies’ – from sites across the country and representing a range of functions in our supply-chain.

It was tremendous fun and the icing on the cake was that we won. So of course, we will be coming back this year to defend our title…

The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge is the perfect platform to showcase our commitment to supporting inclusion and diversity, internally as a supply-chain function and externally, to the third-party warehousing and haulage companies we work with, as well as the wider logistics and transport industry across Great Britain.

It is also a great way to recognise and reward our people with an adventurous day of fun. Why wouldn’t companies like ours want to participate?

Author: Clare Bottle is Associate Director of Warehousing for Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler employing 3,600 people across Great Britain. Clare manages relationships with the company’s third-party logistics suppliers for warehousing.


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