American News May 4, 2021 8:05 PM EST

Controversial diversity plan on hold after Coca-Cola general counsel resigns

Coca-Cola's controversial diversity plan has been put on hold after the organizer of the plan, now former general counsel Bradley Gayton, resigned from his post after less than a year.

Controversial diversity plan on hold after Coca-Cola general counsel resigns
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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Coca-Cola's controversial diversity plan has been put on hold after the organizer of the plan, now former general counsel Bradley Gayton, resigned from his post after less than a year, the New York Post reports.

Gayton was hired in September 2020 after nearly 30 years as a top lawyer for Ford. Replacing him as general counsel is Monica Howard Douglas.

Spokesman for Coke, Scott Leith, said that Douglas is currently reviewing the plan, but according to Law.com, would likely salvage parts of Gayton's 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. 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," said Leith.

Gayton unveiled his diversity plan in January that would penalize outside law firms who didn't meet diversity quotas set forth by Coca-Cola.

Law firms would be required to "commit that at least 30 percent of billed time would be from 'diverse attorneys,' and at least half of that time would be from black attorneys," the New York Post reported.

"The hard truth is that our profession is not treating the issue of diversity and inclusion as a business imperative," wrote Gayton in January after unveiling the new plan. "We have a crisis on our hands and we need to commit ourselves to specific actions that will accelerate the diversity of the legal profession."

Many have criticized the plan, questioning the legality of it, including The Project on Fair Representation who stated in an open letter to Douglas that the plan was "unlawful" in requiring "racial quota requirements."

Gayton has reportedly signed a new contract with the company, and will serve as a consultant to CEO James Quincy.

Coca-Cola has faced additional backlash over the past few months, most recently being over the comments they made and then walked back on regarding Georgia's new voting laws, which has resulted in 37 percent of Adult Americans saying they were less likely to buy Coke products.

Coca-Cola was also slammed in February for an online training titled Confronting Racism that told employees to "be less white," by "being less oppressive, being more humble, and being less defensive," among other examples.

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