For-profit

The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company is a multinational corporation that produces and sells various soft drinks. Its flagship product, Coca-Cola, was first invented in 1886 by pharmacist and Confederate Civil War veteran John Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia. [1] The company purchased Pemberton’s formula in 1888 and has since operated through a system of franchises, gradually incorporating other brands of drinks including Sprite, Fanta, Dasani, Minute Maid, and others into its product line. [2]

The Coca-Cola company has a history of political controversies stemming from its controversial business practices and its history with racism. More recently, the company has come under fire for its use of critical race theory in employee training sessions which instructed employees to become “less white.” [3]

Political Activities

Coca-Cola often takes political stances through its political action committee and its nonprofit arm.

The Coca-Cola Foundation

The Coca-Cola Foundation is a nonprofit organization that makes contributions to charitable groups across the world. [4] In 2020, the Foundation, along with the Coca-Cola Company itself, gave more than $186 million to 432 organizations across 154 countries and territories. [5] The Foundation has provided grants to a number of left-of-center criminal justice organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Equal Justice Initiative, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ). [6]

The Foundation has also funded other left-of-center foundations and organizations in a variety of issue areas, including the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation; the Conservation International Foundation; GLAAD; the Trevor Project; and Rivers Trust. [7]

The Coca-Cola Company Non-Partisan Committee for Good Government

The Coca-Cola Company Non-Partisan Committee for Good Government is a PAC that contributes to candidates running in U.S. elections[8] funded by voluntary contributions from Coca-Cola employees. [9] From 2019 to 2020, the PAC gave a total of $516,500 to various other committees in support of candidate campaigns. [10] The amount given to Democratic candidates’ committees was roughly equal to that given to those of Republicans. [11]

Controversies

Anti-Competitive Behavior

Coca-Cola has been sanctioned for engaging in business practices that allegedly stifle competition. In 2005, the European Commission (EC) forced Coca-Cola to halt making agreements with shops and stores that required them to exclusively stock Coca-Cola beverages. [12] The EC ordered that if Coca-Cola supplies branded refrigeration units to retailers “with no other means of cooling,” then the company must devote 20% of the refrigeration space that it provided to other companies’ products in order to allow consumers more choice. [13] Prior to the ruling, Coca-Cola’s agreements applied to 27 countries in the European Union (EU) and would have been extended to others once the company’s share of sales there exceeded 40%. [14]

Race

During the 1980s, left-leaning activists in the U.S. boycotted Coca-Cola for maintaining operations in apartheid South Africa. [15] At the time, Coca-Cola had a 90% share of South Africa’s market for soft drinks and employed about 4,500 workers in the country under racially segregated conditions. [16] Others have criticized the fact that Coca-Cola’s inventor, John Pemberton, owned slaves and fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. [17]

Coca-Cola has drawn criticism in the United States for its “anti-racism” employee training program. The program featured elements of critical race theory, a far-left theory which claims that racism is at the root of American society and institutions. In February 2021, a whistleblower at the company leaked screenshots of an online course given to Coca-Cola employees that urged them to be “less white.” [18] Tips for being “less white” included “be less defensive,” “listen,” and “break with white solidarity.” [19] The course allegedly featured an interview with sociologist Robin DiAngelo, a left-wing theorist who has claimed that refusing to concede to accusations of racism is itself racist. [20] [21]

Leadership

James Quincy has been CEO and chairman of the board of directors at the Coca-Cola Company since 2017. [22] He joined Coca-Cola in 1996 and previously served as president of the company’s European and Latin American divisions. [23]

Quincy has publicly supported left-of-center policy. In 2021, Quincy criticized Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, which would strengthen voter identification requirements and the protocol for requesting absentee ballots, likening election protection measures to voter suppression. [24] In June 2021, North Carolina’s Surry County briefly banned Coca-Cola machines from its government offices due to Quincy’s comments. [25] Surry County Commissioner Ed Harris said that Quincy’s comments amounted to nothing more than “corporate political commentary favoring the Democratic party.” [26]

References

  1. “The Birth of a Refreshing Idea – News & Articles.” The Coca-Cola Company. Accessed June 25, 2021. https://www.coca-colacompany.com/company/history/the-birth-of-a-refreshing-idea. ^
  2. “Brands & Products.” The Coca-Cola Company. Accessed June 25, 2021. https://www.coca-colacompany.com/brands. ^
  3. Eustachewich, Lia. “Coca-Cola Slammed for Diversity Training That Urged Workers to Be ‘Less White’.” New York Post. New York Post, February 23, 2021. https://nypost.com/2021/02/23/coca-cola-diversity-training-urged-workers-to-be-less-white/. ^
  4. “The Coca-Cola Foundation.” The Coca-Cola Company. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.coca-colacompany.com/shared-future/coca-cola-foundation. ^
  5. “The Coca-Cola Foundation.” The Coca-Cola Company. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.coca-colacompany.com/shared-future/coca-cola-foundation. ^
  6. “The Coca-Cola Foundation Grants Paid in 2020.” The Coca-Cola Foundation. Accessed July 6, 2021. https://www.coca-colacompany.com/content/dam/journey/us/en/policies/pdf/the-coca-cola-foundation/2020-charitable-contributions-report.pdf ^
  7. “The Coca-Cola Foundation Grants Paid in 2020.” The Coca-Cola Foundation. Accessed July 6, 2021. https://www.coca-colacompany.com/content/dam/journey/us/en/policies/pdf/the-coca-cola-foundation/2020-charitable-contributions-report.pdf ^
  8. “THE COCA-COLA COMPANY NONPARTISAN COMMITTEE FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT – Committee Overview.” FEC.gov. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00012468/?cycle=2020#total-spent. ^
  9. “Coca-Cola Co PAC Donors.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/coca-cola-co/C00012468/donors/2020. ^
  10. “THE COCA-COLA COMPANY NONPARTISAN COMMITTEE FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT – Committee Overview.” FEC.gov. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00012468/?cycle=2020#total-spent. ^
  11. “Coca-Cola Co PAC to PAC/Party.” OpenSecrets. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/coca-cola-co/C00012468/pac-to-pac/2020. ^
  12. “Business | EU Makes Coke Throw Open Fridges.” BBC News. BBC, June 22, 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4119372.stm. ^
  13. “Business | EU Makes Coke Throw Open Fridges.” BBC News. BBC, June 22, 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4119372.stm. ^
  14. “Business | EU Makes Coke Throw Open Fridges.” BBC News. BBC, June 22, 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4119372.stm. ^
  15. African Activist Archive. Accessed June 25, 2021. https://africanactivist.msu.edu/document_metadata.php?objectid=32-130-133A. ^
  16. African Activist Archive. Accessed June 25, 2021. https://africanactivist.msu.edu/document_metadata.php?objectid=32-130-133A. ^
  17. Howard, Krissy. “How Coca-Cola Started Out As A Potential Cure For Morphine Addiction.” All That’s Interesting. All That’s Interesting, August 8, 2019. https://allthatsinteresting.com/john-pemberton. ^
  18. Eustachewich, Lia. “Coca-Cola Slammed for Diversity Training That Urged Workers to Be ‘Less White’.” New York Post. New York Post, February 23, 2021. https://nypost.com/2021/02/23/coca-cola-diversity-training-urged-workers-to-be-less-white/. ^
  19. Eustachewich, Lia. “Coca-Cola Slammed for Diversity Training That Urged Workers to Be ‘Less White’.” New York Post. New York Post, February 23, 2021. https://nypost.com/2021/02/23/coca-cola-diversity-training-urged-workers-to-be-less-white/. ^
  20. Eustachewich, Lia. “Coca-Cola Slammed for Diversity Training That Urged Workers to Be ‘Less White’.” New York Post. New York Post, February 23, 2021. https://nypost.com/2021/02/23/coca-cola-diversity-training-urged-workers-to-be-less-white/. ^
  21. Murphy, Paul Austin. “Robin DiAngelo’s Theory of ‘White Fragility’ Is Unfalsifiable.” Medium. Dialogue & Discourse, July 9, 2020. https://medium.com/discourse/robin-diangelos-theory-of-white-fragility-is-unfalsifiable-8e217bc4f57f ^
  22. “James Quincey – Leadership.” The Coca-Cola Company. Accessed June 25, 2021. https://www.coca-colacompany.com/company/leadership/james-quincey. ^
  23. “James Quincey – Leadership.” The Coca-Cola Company. Accessed June 25, 2021. https://www.coca-colacompany.com/company/leadership/james-quincey. ^
  24. Mastrangelo, Dominick. “Rand Paul Calls for Republicans to Boycott Coca-Cola.” TheHill. The Hill, April 6, 2021. https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/546704-rand-paul-calls-for-republicans-to-boycott-coca-cola. ^
  25. Mastrangelo, Dominick. “North Carolina County Bans Coke Machines over Company’s Criticism of Georgia Voting Law.” TheHill. The Hill, June 4, 2021. https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/556841-north-carolina-county-bans-coca-cola-machines-over-companys-criticism-of. ^
  26. Mastrangelo, Dominick. “North Carolina County Bans Coke Machines over Company’s Criticism of Georgia Voting Law.” TheHill. The Hill, June 4, 2021. https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/556841-north-carolina-county-bans-coca-cola-machines-over-companys-criticism-of. ^
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