Today is International Women’s Day – a global event which provides a strong call-to-action to progress gender parity. This year’s theme, #PressforProgress, calls for a more rapid move towards equality, and encourages friends, colleagues and communities to unite in order to accelerate the positive gains made so far.
With the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – I believe there has never been a more important time to #PressforProgress. And with global activism for women's equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and more - now’s the time to use this global momentum to accelerate this timeline.
My personal experience of gender stereotyping is probably not so different to many others. I remember early in my career when I was considering my choices, well-meaning people telling me that certain roles were more suitable for me as a woman than others. Today, this is called "benevolent bias", where assumptions are made about gender in the workplace.
Recognising these unintended obstacles and challenges women face particularly in careers that are seen to be traditionally male is the first step to change. However, to make change happen we need to create greater opportunities for women, and for men who are also facing societal changes.
I believe at Coca-Cola European Partners we are making progress. As a local business we fully recognise we have more to do across the 13 countries where we make, sell and distribute our drinks. We understand that building a greater diversity of ideas, thinking and experience across will create a more inclusive place to work and better business results.
It’s something we are truly passionate about – we want to continually push ourselves to think, act and be inclusive. We want CCEP to be a place where we can all reach our potential, whatever that may be.
We have built momentum in attracting, hiring and promoting more women and building more gender-balanced teams, however we need to accelerate our progress and we have plans in place to help us do that as we #PressforProgress.
We are determined to use our business to be a force for good in society. This is Forward - our Sustainability Action Plan sets out a clear direction of how we intend to do this. Gender balance sits at the heart of our Action on Society ambition, showing our determination to do more and go further with a commitment to make sure that women hold at least 40 per cent of our management positions by 2025. Currently, 32 per cent of management positions (middle management and above) at CCEP are held by women.
The path to progress
To help make it happen, we have several schemes to encourage women of all ages to progress within our business. We have introduced training and mentoring programmes dedicated to building our female leadership pipeline. Our Women in Leadership series of programmes is tailor-made to address the needs of our female employees at different stages of their careers.
We are taking action country by country to realise the business benefits of being more diverse and inclusive.
We have a growing number of networks across our markets, for example, we recently had our first Coca-Cola System women’s networking event for Germany. In France, our women’s network which relaunched in 2016 as WoMen@Coca-Cola now includes 40 men among its 140 members and on its steering committee. In GB, the women’s network is developing a broader platform bringing together male and female employees to continue the dialogue and action with a real focus on inclusion.
We continue to support the GIRA Women programme in Spain providing knowledge and tools to enable women entrepreneurs to advance personally and professionally.
Bigger than us
Bigger than usI believe we have a real opportunity – and a responsibility as a business – to be a leader in making a positive difference. We need to lead by example, making the changes we want to see when it comes to gender balance and inspire other businesses to follow our lead.
In support of this we are presenting today at JUMP’s Annual Forum in Brussels on the theme “Redefine power: it’s time to share the power between men and women to transform the practice of leadership” and also sponsoring the “wo.men@work” award. While in Norway, we are partners and participants at the SHE conference, as part of our ambition to promote CCEP as an attractive workplace for women.
We are also proud to sponsor the European Diversity Awards and Women of the Future Summit and Awards later this year.
I’m a firm believer and an optimist the future will be better than the present and we have the power to make it so! Let’s make this International Women’s Day count by using our progress and the global momentum to continue to shape the future we desire.