“Coca-Cola European Partners offers consumers some of the world’s leading beverage brands; having diverse and talented people is a key ingredient of our success. Different people, with different ways of looking at the world, all working together to create a company culture for people to thrive and to help us stay one step ahead. Women advancement has been a core part of our inclusion strategy and we are proud to collaborate with LEAD and other partner organisations to attract, retain and advance more women into the retail and consumer goods industry in Europe.” Maria Kokkinou

Maria Kokkinou, Vice President, Talent Acquisition, Management & Development, Coca-Cola European Partners

LEAD Network Newsletter Sponsor spotlight Interview with
Coca-Cola European Partners, December 2018

An Vermeulen
Vice President Field Sales, Coca-Cola European Partners, Great Britain

Can you tell us a bit about your organization and your role?

Coca-Cola European Partners is the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler. Across thirteen countries, our employees make, sell and distribute the world’s most loved drinks brands to more than 300 million people. Within CCEP, my role as VP for Field Sales is to lead 850 colleagues, selling our products and delivering growth by offering excellent customer service and achieving best-in-class store execution.

Why is diversity, and specifically the advancement of women, so important to your organization?

Our culture in the workplace is shaped by every one of us, in how we act, speak and connect with others, how we involve and include our colleagues appropriately and how we value working together. At CCEP, we are convinced that this mix of differences and similarities is an incredible asset for our company. As an organisation, we want to attract, develop and retain a workforce that reflects the diversity of the communities in which we operate. We aim to achieve this through ensuring fairness, fostering inclusion, and promoting equal opportunities. It is important for us that the inclusive values of our brands are reflected in the way we treat our people. Women represent 52% of the world’s population and are responsible for over 80% of the consumer spending power. We want to access all of the available talent, and be relevant to our consumers. Across CCEP, we are proactive in making our company a gender-balanced company by supporting initiatives like LEAD Network.

Which diversity initiatives do you have in your organization?

At CCEP, we have a proactive approach to foster balanced recruitment for all positions and all levels. For example, we use inclusive language and imagery in our job ads to be more attractive to both men and women and to strengthen our talent pipeline. Our male and female #JustBe Ambassadors engage people across our business to ensure an inclusive culture, under the theme of ‘Be Yourself, Be Valued, Belong.’ Moreover, our flagship program ‘Women in Leadership’ has been developed specifically to develop key female talent for leadership positions. We have Women’s Networks in all geographies – which meet regularly to support personal development, share ideas and provide networking opportunities. Reporting and being able to track progress is equally important for us. This is why we have developed a D&I scorecard that allows us to measure and benchmark progress across the business.

Finally, we actively run, support and encourage a number of initiatives to support women in manufacturing, for example mentoring female engineering students (GB – Brunel University), supporting organisations such as Women in Engineering and Women in Logistics and regularly connecting with external speakers and academia to broaden our knowledge on the topic.

What role does the LEAD Network play in reaching your organization’s diversity goals?

Being part of the LEAD Network offers myself and my colleagues at CCEP a great opportunity to meet with industry partners, share our best practices and stories, relate and support one another in a meaningful and relevant way. Such a relationship will be helpful in our efforts to open the dialogue about diversity and inclusion including the need for even more women in leadership positions – and how we can accelerate our journey towards gender parity.

What would you like your employees to take away from the LEAD Network?

Acknowledging gender dynamics within a company can propel awareness, improve the working environment and boost employee confidence. I would like our employees who have experienced the benefits of being a member of the LEAD Network to become confident to use their voices and provide advice without judgement.