Inspiring Inclusion: Delivering on our vision that ‘Everyone is Welcome’

Caroline Cater Sept 23 small v2


Caroline Cater

International Women’s Day is a great time to reflect on progress and intentions, we are seeing positive momentum across the UK and the industry and, although we have a long way to go, I’m pleased to say that at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) we have reasons to feel proud of our progress in GB.

We want our workplace to be a space where everyone can be themselves and be valued. We all know that having a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds helps make our everyday and the business the best it can be. Whatever industry you work in, it always comes down to the people.

We have some fantastic colleagues across CCEP who are working hard to make our organisation as welcoming as possible, so, whether you’re a parent returning to work, or need extra measures in the workplace to support your role, we’re always trying to make sure we have the necessary policies and training in place to support everyone.

It’s a mission I’m really invested in, and through my different roles at CCEP, from field sales to marketing and now as I head up People & Culture, it’s been eye-opening to see the challenge of reaching gender equality in different parts of the business. But in recent years we’ve really made some good progress. 48% of our Commercial teams are female, 52% of our Corporate functions are female, and 43% of our Management and Senior Manager roles are held by women, increasing from 35% in 2017.

To get here, we’ve had a focused and steady approach over the last 12 years. We now see the men and other allies in our organisation really leaning in and – as we all know from the decades of time we spent working on Women’s networks and Women in Leadership discussions – nothing changes until the majority really get on board. I feel we are in that space right now when it comes to gender.  However, we recognise that our supply chain female representation is stubborn at 17% and we know that this is where the hard yards are across the industry.

So, it seems fitting, then, that this year’s International Women’s Day theme is #InspireInclusion. Within our Supply Chain, we’ve put initiatives in place to break down these representation barriers. This includes a recruitment campaign targeting women to encourage applications for typically male-dominated roles, like in manufacturing, which they might not have considered before. As part of this recruitment, it has been transformational to focus on trainability vs previous experience, but this requires hiring managers to think and plan differently.

In GB we have colleagues who are driving change working with the Parent & Carers Network to help us to change policies and listen to what is needed. Our supply chain leaders globally have also set challenges to their teams to listen to what the women in supply chain are telling us through listening circles: what does it feel like to work in supply chain as a woman? Is that in line with how we want it to feel? These conversations have led to five workstreams in GB, which bring voices together and drive forwards impactful ideas that will really make a difference in helping us to attract, retain and develop more women in our supply chain and crack that stubborn 17%.

This is all helping us move towards our goal that, in our GB business, women will make up 50% of our management and senior leadership roles by the end of 2030. But to get there we need to continue taking action, particularly focussing on those roles that have historically been male-dominated.

Partnerships are also helping us move towards our goals and this includes the likes of Successful Mums, a training company focused on helping mothers return to the workforce, and Get-Optimal, an AI technology platform through which our job adverts are optimised to remove barriers that may discourage women from applying.

For me, to truly ‘Inspire Inclusion’, it’s not just about listening to our colleagues or creating the right policies, processes and pathways. We can only achieve our full potential as people and as organisations by adopting an inclusive approach every step of the way, and by challenging each other to dispel with the myths, look for ways to create positive change for all and with everyone taking responsibility for their part in shaping the future.