A Coca-Cola racism training has gone viral after someone leaked it to the media. The training urged employees of the beverage company to “try to be less white” while on the job. In addition, the training seemed to urge these same employees to be “less ignorant” and “less oppressive” while working for the Georgia soft drink corporation. The training was leaked in response to the national reckoning around race following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
Images of the racial sensitivity training were shared on social media. Slides from the presentation included the call for employees “to be less white” and suggested that they could do this by following a list of items. Some ways that Coke’s employees can be “less white” during their interactions with other employees would be to “be less arrogant, be less certain, be less defensive, be more humble, listen, believe, break with apathy,” and “break with white solidarity.”
Racism remains a major issue in America’s corporations. These companies are predominately made up of white people, especially white men, when it comes to leadership roles. Not only are men still paid more than women for the same job on average in America, people of color face additional problems in the workplace. That’s why companies like Georgia’s Coca-Cola are working fast and furiously to erase the fabric of racism from their ranks. Trainings like this leaked one are a clumsy step toward better inclusion.
“Confronting racism,” one slide of the presentation read. “Understanding what it means to be white, challenging what it means to be racist.”
Another slide in the diversity training reported, “In the US and other Western nations, white people are socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white. Research shows that by age 3 to 4, children understand that it is better to be white.”
Coca-Cola employees shared a mixed reaction to the diversity training. Some white employees even felt attacked and threatened to stage a boycott of the leading soft drink brand.
“This seems like blatant racial discrimination to this employment lawyer,” one self-identified employment lawyer tweeted.
In response, Coca-Cola spoke to The Sun about how the training was designed to create more inclusion in the workplace and to have a difficult conversation around race and inequality.
“The video and images attributed to a Coca-Cola training program are not part of the company’s learning curriculum. Our Better Together global training is part of a learning plan to help build an inclusive workplace. It is comprised of a number of short vignettes, each a few minutes long,” Coke said in a statement.
“The training includes access to the LinkedIn Learning platform on a variety of topics, including on diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the statement continued. “The video in question was accessible on the LinkedIn Learning platform but was not part of the company’s curriculum. We will continue to listen to our employees and refine our learning programs as appropriate.”
What do you think about Coca Cola’s anti-racism training?