A Quiet Revolution at Coca-Cola

"Coca-Cola is systematically breaking the myths that women aren’t good for some roles."


Manu Narang Wadhwa, Board Member and the Head of Human Resources: India & South West Asia at the Coca-Cola Company, India is one such leader who is at the forefront of this quiet revolution in an FMCG company in India.

Manu is a strong proponent of Coca Cola’s belief that achieving equality and empowerment for women impacts them directly and generates ripple effects that are good for society. Coca Cola doesn’t usually talk about the great role it is performing to improve diversity, but it has a holistic focus and is trying to build the nation from the roots.

Whether Coca Cola has adopted 1000 schools from under-privileged sections in difficult locations or addressed the most common barriers women face when trying to succeed in the marketplace, the 5by20 initiative offers women access to business skills and success.

In a conversation with Gurdeep Hora, Managing Director of Synergy Consultants & IRC Global Executive Search Partners, Manu says that Coca Cola is systematically breaking the myths that women aren’t good for some roles. She is clearly focussed on the results and the bottom line and ignores all prejudices in the work-place.

Today, across all plants and locations, women constitute a majority of top leadership in quality and innovation functions; in Sales, the diversity has gone up from 0% to almost 15%. In senior management roles, there are 26% women today compared to 5% earlier.

However, company makes special efforts to provide opportunities to women to train and educate themselves, but selection and growth in responsibility is based purely on merits of the person. The diversity doesn’t give you any special reward.

Manu is very passionate about equality because she strongly believes that it brings greater success and compassion in the organization. She asserts that women-in-leadership bring a principled and empowering culture to the organizations. She says that if you look at the records of top 30 women leaders, they have uniformly performed better, even in organizations under stress.

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