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Coca-Cola Pauses Aggressive Diversity Plan After Chief Lawyer Resigns

(New York Post) Woke Coke has gone flat.

Coca-Cola has paused its controversial diversity plan — that included penalties on outside law firms if they failed to meet racial diversity quotas — after intense backlash.

The pause comes after the orchestrator of the plan, Coke’s former general counsel Bradley Gayton, abruptly resigned last month after less than a year on the job and as criticism of the quotas mounted.

Some questioned whether Gayton’s policies violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says employers can’t treat people differently based on their race.

Scott Leith, a spokesman for Coke, said Gayton’s replacement, Monica Howard Douglas, is now reviewing the plan. 

“When there is a leadership change, it takes time for the new leader to review the current status of the team, organization and initiatives,” he said. “Monica is fully committed to the notions of equity and diversity in the legal profession, and we fully expect she will take the time necessary to thoughtfully review any plans going forward.”

In January, Gayton made headlines when he unveiled his plans to penalize outside law firms that failed to meet new diversity quotas by slashing their fees or cutting ties with them altogether…

Coca-Cola hired Gayton in September 2020 after spending nearly 30 years as the top lawyer at Ford. Despite his departure from Coke as general counsel, he still has a relationship with the company.

He signed a new contract to serve as a consultant to Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey. In that position, he’ll be making a hefty $12 million over the next year. That included a $4 million sign-on fee and a monthly consulting fee of $666,666, according to an April 21 securities filing.

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