Unique Mix of Internal, External and Academia

Across Western Europe, Coca-Cola Enterprises knows that people make a company successful. Utilizing a unique mix of people from internal, external and academia, the company is successfully aligning diversity and inclusion with its business priorities.

Its innovative Diversity & Inclusion Lab in the United Kingdom is central to the company’s operating structure – essentially a roadmap to action. It is an integral part of how the company operates and how it sees its future in the global multicultural world.

The lab is held each year, with a mix of internal insight, external experience and the latest in academia research. Participants combine forces centering on specific topics to generate specialized action plans. “The D&I Lab is an amazingly effective tool to raise awareness in one particular area, and to start tackling it,” Chief Diversity Officer Maria Kokkinou said.

The annual seminars have a specific focus and some equally specific goals – raising awareness, learning what works, and developing an action plan to meet the challenge at hand. Programs strive to create a work environment that provides all associates equal access to information, development and opportunity.

Engaging Multiple Generations

In 2015, the lab focused on engaging multiple generations in the workplace. As a result, the company put in place a corporate-wide action plan to engage multiple generations. It includes a mentoring program, more flexible working, fun and recognition at work and a campaign to de-bug age related stereotypes.

Coca-Cola Enterprises now assesses quarterly benchmarks and acts on how each business unit and function is progressing toward its action plan. It has increased overall engagement and created specific generational actions plans for each business unit and support function, according to Kokkinou.

The lab was introduced in 2014, with the initial seminar focusing on increasing female retention. The result was company-wide work life integration. The company took action on reviewing its policies on flexible scheduling and it launched a Way of Working policy. It streamlines separate country policies and creates a single tool for requesting flexible scheduling. Corporate officials visited each of its major European sites and delivered a presentation explaining the availability of new services helping employees cope with work-life issues.

The key indicator of success in the area of female employee retention is the voluntary turnover variance between men and women—the smaller the variance, the better. As of June 2015, the variance was just one percent, down from three percent the previous year.

Sharing Insights and Best Practices

During the labs, internal business units share their insights and best practices; external companies that are leading the way share how they do it; and experts from academia report the latest research on the topic. The seminar ends by building an action plan based on key takeaways. What makes this initiative unique is the mix of internal and external participants, including academia, and the company’s accountability for taking specific action.

Within Coca-Cola Enterprises, women account for 33 percent of its board of directors and 29 percent of its leadership team – two and a half times the European average for boards of directors and nearly three times the European average for executives.

Coca-Cola Enterprises, www.cocacolaep.com, is the exclusive Coca-Cola bottler for Belgium, continental France, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. The company has nearly 12,000 employees and more than 40 brands.