I’m doing my best to get with the program and accept the woke hypocrisy peddled by a corporate media that I, and the majority of Americans, have little respect for. The cancel culture doesn’t follow or adhere to consistent rules or principles, allowing some people to get passes while others get blasted. Comedian Sarah Silverman, who dressed up in black face, emerged with nary a career scar but NBC News’ Megyn Kelly was forced out for not grasping the costume’s harm.
The Coca-Cola Company recently emerged as a champion of wokeness. Its Chairman and CEO James Quincey, who only recently became a U.S. citizen if he is one at all, publicly criticized revisions to Georgia’s voting law. Quincey bought into President Biden’s narrative the revisions were “Jim Crow on steroids.” I’m siding with Utah Congressman Burgess Owens, a football player I admired when he played the game, who says likening the voting law to legalized segregation was “absolutely outrageous.”
Given Quincey’s willingness to volunteer and advocate for his political views from his CEO pulpit, BLM activists and their corporate media cheerleaders should be demanding he provide an accounting for the resignation of Bradley Gayton, Coke’s global general counsel, after only eight months on the job. In addition to being black, Gayton recently mandated that Coke would only retain law firms where 30 percent of the partners and associates were “diverse attorneys,” of which 15 percent must be black.
At a minimum, Quincey should disclose whether Gayton’s diversity quota will remain in place.
Gayton so far has provided no public explanation for his departure, and he has 12 million reasons to keep quiet. Coke disclosed in a filing that Gayton will receive a lump sum “make-whole payment” of $4 million, a waiver of “repayment obligations of certain benefits” related to his initial employment agreement, and a nearly $670,000 monthly consulting fee starting starting next month and extending through April 2022 for working no more than 40 hours a month.
The payments are contingent on Gayton’s “continued compliance with certain restrictive covenants contained in the consulting agreement.” I’m guessing that keeping quiet is the No. 1 restrictive covenant.
Gayton’s diversity mandate was a rare example of a company willing to go beyond rhetoric and demonstrate a quantifiable commitment to promoting diversity in an area of business where a black presence is woefully lacking. According to a 2019 survey of 238 large law firms by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association and Vault, black lawyers made up 4.83 percent of associates and only 1.94 percent of equity partners.
Companies like JP Morgan Chase, whose CEO Jamie Dimon posed taking a knee in front of a suburban branch, and others have resisted calls for racial-equity audits that would provide transparency on their promised BLM initiatives.
Gayton’s mandate was especially ambitious given that Coke needs to attract the best tax lawyers money can buy. As far as the IRS is concerned, Coke is a corporate deadbeat that owes the U.S. Treasury $3.3 billion for underpayment of taxes from 2007 and 2009. In addition to having issues with Georgia’s voting law, Coke doesn’t like the IRS’ interpretation of rules regarding how the company allocates profits between the U.S. and some low-tax nations, like Brazil and Ireland.
Quincey, Coke’s chairman and CEO, is a globalist corporate executive. A native of Britain who is fluent in Spanish, Quincey joined Coke in 1996 but rose through the ranks quickly, overseeing the company’s various operations in Latin America and then Europe. He was named COO in 2015, CEO in 2017, and given the additional chairman title in 2019. Quincey, whose dual roles as chairman and CEO should be of concern to investors who care about responsible corporate governance, was paid $18 million in 2019 compensation.
One has to live in the U.S. for five continuous years after receiving permanent residence status to become a citizen, so it would appear that Quincey at best only just recently took an oath “to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.”
What’s incongruous to me is how Coke could even remotely be deemed woke to begin with. The company is a peddler of sugar-laden soft drinks known to contribute mightily to America’s diabetes and obesity epidemic, which inflicts African Americans at a dramatically higher rate. I accept Coke’s right to sell its products, but it ranks at the bottom of companies that have the credibility or moral authority to feign concern for the well being of African Americans. I’m skeptical that Quincey’s public criticism of Georgia’s election law was anything more than a marketing decision intended to sell more product and ensure that Coke remains the third most popular brand on Facebook.
Coke’s products are harming populations around the world. The company has contributed to making China the largest overweight population on the planet. Multiple studies have revealed that Coke, in partnership with Pepsi and U.S. fast food companies, have curried sufficient favor with key Chinese officials to stave off food regulation and soda taxes that are popular in the west.
One of the few individuals with the determination and means to challenge Coke and its marketing practices was Greg Glassman, the founder and former CEO of CrossFit. Glassman waged a campaign to expose that Coke was allegedly secretly funding research purportedly proving that sugary soft drinks weren’t that harmful. Glassman alleged that even the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health were secretly receiving funding from Coke and other companies.
Glassman was forced to resign for a tweet he made last June making light of the covid pandemic and the killing of George Floyd while in police custody. Glassman’s tweet was insensitive, but he was championing what should be a critical BLM cause long before Coke’s James Quincey landed in America. If a person is to be judged by their actions and not their words, the cancel culture set their sights on the wrong executive.