Coke’s diversity reforms: Judge rules it’s the real thing

Coca-Cola has received the court’s blessing for its diversity efforts in the wake of a landmark 1999 discrimination lawsuit that cost the company $192.5 million. In December, a U.S. district court judge ruled that the company had complied with all its legal obligations under the settlement agreement.

For the past five years, the company’s been under the watchful eye of an independent task force. During that time, Coca-Cola boosted minority representation among salaried employees from 26 percent to nearly 35 percent, among middle management from 21 to 27 percent and among elected and appointed officers from 8 to 21 percent.

Coke CEO Neville Isdell said it’s not about statistics, however. “The end point is that you have a totally diverse work force that is not put into compartmentalized boxes,” he says.

District Judge Richard Story issued a warning along with the judgment, saying it was now up to Coke employees to ensure the reforms stick.