News & Politics

Coke Went Woke and, as Expected, the Left Still Isn't Happy

(AP Photo, File)

Poor Coca-Cola. The company jumped on the woke train recently with a few moves that went public.

First, Coca-Cola was outed for sending their employees to training on how to be “less white.” It turned out that this was not internal training. Instead, LinkedIn provided it through a learning link and the company assigned it. The backlash to this disclosure caused LinkedIn to remove the training, but plenty of vendors are available to conduct it internally if that is Coke’s preference.

Coca-Cola also sent a notification to their legal firms to tell them that they would monitor their outside legal teams’ diversity. If a firm does not meet the standards for workforce diversity specified by Coca-Cola, it will receive a rate that is 30% lower. According to an interview with General Counsel Bradley Gayton, who sent the letter:

Coke said it will require quarterly reporting about the makeup of legal teams that do work for it and self identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, Black, women, Hispanic/Latinx, LGBTQ+, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or persons with disabilities. For those working on new matters for Coke, “at least 30% of each of billed associate and partner time will be from diverse attorneys, and of such amounts at least half will be from Black attorneys.”

It said the percentages, which are roughly equal to those of the U.S. population overall, will be adjusted over time to eventually hit at least 50% of billed time coming from diverse attorneys, with half from Black attorneys.

[…]

Firms that fail to meet the targets will be docked 30% of their fees, and those who continue to come up short may no longer be considered for Coke work.

As it stands today, the lack of diversity in law firms may have more to do with self-selection than discrimination of any kind. In 2019, 34% of working attorneys were women, 4.6% were black, 2.9% were Asian, and 3.8% were Hispanic. These percentages are all much lower than the percentage of the population these groups make up.

Representation in law schools is not much better. In the same year, students at ABA-accredited law schools were 7.94% black, 12.7% Hispanic, and 6.36% Asian. A limited number of firms will be able to meet Coke’s metrics since minority lawyers may enter fields that are not corporate affiliated practices. Eventually, Coke may have more difficulty obtaining legal services as law firms struggle to meet their requirements.

Yet, neither of these woke moves kept Coca-Cola from being the subject of protests. On Saturday, #BoycottCoke was trending on Twitter. Some participants were suggesting boycotting all other brands that serve Coke products. The company’s sin was donating to politicians in Georgia who co-sponsored election security laws currently in the state legislature. This legislation aims to roll back temporary voting procedures approved during the pandemic and ensure there would not be outside funding of county election offices in the future.

Of course, the left sees all election security measures in any state below the Mason-Dixon line as racist. It would probably shock them to understand that minority voter registration has increased every year from 2010 to 2018, even with voter ID laws. The modifications made based on the pandemic caused an embarrassing election tally, reduced confidence in the election, and lingering issues. Chain-of-custody documents still are not available for 83% of the 600,000 ballots placed in drop boxes.

Perhaps the larger point the left needs to understand is that corporations donate to politicians for specific reasons related to their operations, not because they support every piece of legislation a politician supports. Business interests are far narrower than that and often easy to understand if you know what committees politicians serve on and their positions on business-related issues. The Republican Party in Georgia is notoriously business-friendly. Their policies have earned them the number one spot on the list of states that are good to do business in.

Of course, this simplistic view of political donations is even shared at MSNBC. Anchor Nicolle Wallace went on a rant, saying that any company that donated to Republicans favored racist voter suppression. This is because Republicans in Congress do not support Nancy Pelosi’s power grab in HR-1, which federalizes elections and removes nearly all penalties for voter fraud, just to name a few provisions. Maintaining responsibility for elections at the state level is a natural Republican position that has nothing to do with voter suppression.

The interesting lesson from Coca-Cola’s last three months is that you cannot woke your way out of criticism. The left is generally miserable and will never be satisfied no matter how many times you engage in the behavior they demand. It will be interesting to see if large corporations will ever understand this fundamental rule. People who call themselves progressives never stop progressing, and the rules they set today may be completely different tomorrow.