First it was Sheryl Sandberg, now it’s Coca-Cola. Is it just a coincidence that I’ve been doing stories recently about women in business, or is there really a new push to turn women into leaders? Sandberg, the super-successful billionaire executive of Facebook is out with a book, “Lean In”, urging women to be more aggressive in going after top jobs and not to doubt their abilities. Even high profile business leaders like Mohamed El-Erian, the CEO of PIMCO, are raving about Sheryl’s book and telling CEOs it’s a must read.
Today I talked with Muhtar Kent, the CEO of Coca-Cola about the “Women’s Initiative” at his company. He’s getting an award tonight from Catalyst, the women’s business group, for his work in expanding opportunities for women at the soda company.
Now I smile as I listen to Muhtar talking about why it’s “good business” to empower women in the workplace and how women will be the innovators over the next decade playing a key role in the world’s economic growth!
Hallelujah! But seriously, I am impressed with what Muhtar is doing.
He’s passionate about promoting women and I’m told he talks about this issue everywhere he goes. Since he became CEO in 2008, he’s made it a top priority for women to hold 50 percent of the leadership jobs in Coca-Cola by 2020. He’s getting close: women now account for 41 percent of those top jobs. I won’t be surprised if the next CEO will be a woman—the first in Coke’s 125 year history.
It’s taken a long time to get this far. Let’s hope the momentum keeps up. What do you think?