From Michael St. Onge (Winter Term, 2021):
PepsiCo Inc. is a global food and beverage industry company with over $67 billion in sales in 2019 (PepsiCo, Inc. Income Statement, n.d.). Founded in 1898 as Pepsi Cola, its subsidiaries now include popular brands like Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Ruffles, Tostitos, Aquafina and Cheetos. PepsiCo products can be found in over 200 countries and territories. PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers over a billion times each day and 23 of PepsiCo’s products generate over $1 billion in estimated annual retail sales (About the Company, n.d.).
Being a global company, PepsiCo understands the need to have a diverse and inclusive culture and workforce. On their website, PepsicCo states, “our company is strongest when we are a company of opportunity that embraces the full spectrum of humanity. That means both building a more diverse, more inclusive workplace, and promoting what we call courageous engagement in our company and the communities we serve”, (Diversity and Engagement, n.d.). To that end, PepsiCo’s website states two of its goals to improve diversity and inclusion. First, PepsiCo seeks to reach gender parity in management by 2025, and second, to increase the representation of Blacks in U.S. management roles.
PepsiCo is attacking gender parity on two fronts. In 2016, the company set a goal of pay equality and two years later, the pay gap was less than 1%, after controlling for legitimate drivers of pay. (Brown, 2021). The company has also set a goal to increase the amount of women in the company from 41% to 50% by 2025.
PepsiCo also held meetings with employees to see how they can improve diversity. The feedback from those meetings led to a pledge from the company to increase the number of Black managers by 30% and adding 100 Black associates to the executive ranks (Brown, 2021).
In 2018, PepsiCo reported that 40% of global managers are women (2018 Diversity Report: PepsiCo’s Position, 2018). By 2020, that number nudged up to 41.2%. While that seems like a small increase, Clifford (2016) notes that the number was 27% in 2016. PepsiCo is committed to increasing gender parity in management by 2025. They have endorsed the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles–Equality Means Business and they are part of “Catalyst, CEO Champions for Change. This group includes more than 50 high-profile CEOs publicly pledging to advance more women and women of color into senior leadership positions and onto their boards”, (Diversity and Engagement, n.d.).
PepsiCo does not hide its diversity statistics. Currently, Blacks make up 8.2% of senior management roles in the U.S. and 6.3% of executive management positions. PepsiCo has committed to investing $400 million over the next 5 years to raise these numbers. Their goal is to raise Black representation in management by 30% and add 100 Black associates to executive positions. They will increase their recruiting at historically Black colleges and universities. They will also implement mandatory unconscious bias training and develop inclusion training tools (Diversity and Engagement, n.d.).
PepsiCo has been ahead of the curve in diversity and inclusion. In 1947, the company created the first all-Black sales team and in 1962 named the first Black officer of a major U.S. company. Still, the company realizes there is much work to be done. In the 2018 Diversity Report: PepsiCo’s Position (2018), Urman Bebe, Senior VP and Chief Diversity and Engagement Officer was quoted saying, “as long as there is a need for this report, there is work to be done”, (p.8).
Connection to Course Concepts
Companies that achieve greater diversity and inclusiveness in their workforce have more productive employees who feel valued. This makes it easier for the company to attract and retain top talent. These companies also avoid blind spots in product offerings and market efforts (Graduate Studies, 2019).
PepsiCo is a global company with a global customer and employee base. The company realized long ago that it is beneficial to their profits and to the morale of their employees if their workforce represented their global market setting. Specifically, PepsiCo noted, “Promoting People and Prosperity by working to advance respect for human rights, promote diversity and inclusion in our workplaces, and increase the earnings potential of women to drive economic growth and increase food security” as a key factor to their success, (2019 Annual Report).
PepsiCo’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is not just a short-term response to recent events. The company has been working towards more diversity and inclusiveness for decades. You find their pledges and commitments on their website, in their annual reports, and in special publications made available to the general republic. By being this transparent, the company can hold itself accountable for results along with its employees and the general public.
2018 Diversity Report: PepsiCo’s Position. (2018). PepsiCo Home. https://www.pepsico.com/docs/album/esg-topics-policies/pepsico_diversity_report_final_highres.pdf?sfvrsn=25721d35_8
2019 Annual Report. (n.d.). PepsiCo Home. https://www.pepsico.com/docs/album/annual-reports/pepsico-inc-2019-annual-report.pdf?sfvrsn=ea470b5_2
About the company. (n.d.). PepsiCo, Inc. Official Website. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.pepsico.com/about/about-the-company
Brown, S. (2021, January 26). How PepsiCo is reinvesting in diversity and inclusion. MIT Sloan. https://mitsloan.mit.edu/ideas-made-to-matter/how-pepsico-reinvesting-diversity-and-inclusion
Clifford, C. (2016, October 17). PepsiCo CEO: Hiring more women and people of color is a ‘business imperative’. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/17/pepsico-ceo-hiring-more-women-and-people-of-color-is-a-business-imperative.html
Diversity and engagement. (n.d.). PepsiCo, Inc. Official Website. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.pepsico.com/about/diversity-and-engagement
Graduate Studies. (2019). Organizational Behavior. Graduate Studies, Granite State College.
Pepsico, Inc. (PEP) income statement. (n.d.). Yahoo Finance – Stock Market Live, Quotes, Business & Finance News. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/PEP/financials?p=PEP
From Jason Grant (Winter Term, 2021):
During the prohibition era, bootleggers earning a living in deep southern states began gathering on weekends to showcase modified versions of cars used to outrun authorities that looked “stock” on the outside. “Booze-runners” (The Mob Museum, n.d.) enlisted talented mechanics’ help to finetune the performance of higher horsepower models as manufacturers increased engine sizes. Capitalizing on opportunity In 1947, founder Bill France Sr. organized the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, or more easily recognized today as NASCAR.
Today, NASCAR reaches all parts of society through small local track sanctioning and touring series that culminates with the lucrative NASCAR Cup Series that showcases engineers’ brilliant minds and the incredible talent of elite motorsports drivers. Attracting network television revenue and national advertising on the cars, NASCAR has transformed into a business with the net worth of one of its top teams, Hendrick Motorsports, at a staggering $315M (Smith, 2020). But it took one person to stand up against racism in the sport to impact the sport’s future.
Darrell “Bubba” Wallace competes in the NASCAR Cup Series. For the most part, he blends in with the other young drivers of the series, except he is African-American. Wallace was born to an interracial family, continually struggling to unfairly justify his skin color. Like many in 2020, Wallace was horrified by George Floyd’s death prompting the Black Lives Matter and I Can’t Breathe initiatives calling for an end to racism.
As only the fourth African-American driver in the top series history (Lawrence, 2020), Wallace put NASCAR on notice after watching other movements to remove society’s civil war symbols. Knowing the backlash he’d face, Wallace called on the sanctioning body to ban the confederate flag from all NASCAR events. To the displeasure of its most loyal southern-rooted fans, NASCAR listened and on June 10, 2020, honored Wallace’s call to action. No confederate flags are allowed in the confines of NASCAR tracks during sanctioned events.
NASCAR’s banning one of the most iconic symbols of segregation was swift. Banning the Confederate flag upset the status quo. Wallace admitted that up until George Floyd’s death, he became accustomed to the confederate flag throughout the sport (Lauletta, 2020). Soon after the ban, officials found a rope hanging in Wallace’s garage stall at the series track in Talladega, Alabama. An FBI investigation determined the event was not a hate crime but offered little further information. All the while, a twenty-four-hour protest by way of a plane flying over the track tailing a confederate flag ensued (Lawrence, 2020). In a show of unity, every team member and every driver from NASCAR’s top series walked behind Wallace and his #43 race car as it presented to pit road before the start of the Talladega race.
NASCAR has a history of including all colors and nationalities in its sport, including its international touring series. The most recent initiative was launching the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. The philosophy of the new program states, “NASCAR Diversity & Inclusion strives to create an inclusive environment in all facets of the NASCAR industry recognizing the value of diversity, which allows us to go faster and farther in our workplaces, at the race track and in the stands.” (NASCAR, n.d.). Some of the initiatives include an internship program for young people of all backgrounds to explore a career in motorsports. However, NASCAR still hides from its racist roots.
Founder Bill France Sr. perhaps optimized the racist culture the sport can not seem to shake. France had a friendship with Alabama Governor George Wallace, who held his KKK constituents in high regard (Lawrence, 2020). When Wallace ran for president of the United States in 1964, France served as his campaign chair in Florida (Lawrence, 2020.) Known as a sport for the privileged (Weedon, 2015), NASCAR lubricates the empowering fiction of its sports symbolism. Located in Tennessee, the Bristol Motor Speedway has a second name, known as the “Last Great Colosseum.” Privileged Roman spectators watched as gladiators were forced to fight to the death on a dirt floor for entertainment (The Colosseum, 2018). Ironically, the stars and cars of NASCAR will race on dirt for the first time inside Bristol Motor Speedway in 2021. The event will attract a new viewing audience furthering the goal of enriching NASCAR. Still, as critics argue, NASCAR has a deep history of “cultural politics” (Weedon, 2015) it refuses to recognize entirely.
Connection to Course Concepts
In all fairness, NASCAR faces the same struggle that many other corporations. It believes in the concept of egalitarianism but struggles to change the language of the company’s culture. Perhaps the company struggles with internal diversity identity. As previously noted, the series, through the eyes of many, appeals to privileged people. How people were raised, prior experiences and educational background all challenge individual identity (Graduate Studies, 2019). The sport was born in a period of a deep racial divide in a part of the country disenfranchised to equality. Many of the sports owners and corporate officials are from southern states or descendants of company founders creating a shield around the sport.
“Bubba” Wallace took the advice of inclusion activist Toni Carter. Carter (2018) argued that if a person wants to change the minds of many then they need to invite the majority to a new conversation. NASCAR teams rely on corporate sponsorship. Sponsors freely express and advertise on cars in exchange for payment to offset team operating costs. Wallace did not ask for permission to speak up from car owner “the King” Richard Petty or his sponsors that he’s contractually obligated to support. His declaration has forced the companies that advertise in a sport that largely ignored its roots for seventy years to consider its diversity initiatives. NASCAR has a long way to go to prove it has moved on or away from its southern roots.
NASCAR’s shift in diversity was long overdue considering the organization’s past. The question remains how it will evolve from 2020. Many companies like NASCAR are learning a new reality many wanted to ignore. The core concept NASCAR as well as others must embrace is that change is inevitable. If companies want to survive the twenty-first century, they should embrace the idea that diversity equals progress (Graduate Studies, 2019), and that progress includes the implications of minority fans that pay for merchandise and tickets.
Fans of minority descent, including African-American heritage, are happy about Wallace’s conversation but not with the action so far. Many minority fans do not attend races in person because they fear violence, especially in southern states (Keh, 2020). Because of rising costs and dwindling interest n the sport, NASCAR and teams struggle to secure funding to keep the sport running. Corporate spenders, team owners, fans, and drivers must develop a collaborative effort to move the sport away from its privileged and dixie roots to allow more opportunities for minorities and the less privileged. Perhaps the Drive for Diversity will shift an organization that appeals to right-wing ideology in a new left direction (which ironically is the direction the cars predominantly turn on track) and deepen its commitment to removing racism from racing.
Carter, T. (2018, April 13). Inclusive Diversity: The Game Changer [Video file]. Retrieved January 24, 2021, from https://youtu.be/JuK3FGwVJTs
Graduate Studies, Granite State College. (2019). Organizational Behavior. Retrieved January 1, 2021, from https://granite.pressbooks.pub/mgmt805/
Keh, A. (2020, June 26). For Black NASCAR Fans, Change Would Mean Feeling at Ease at a Race. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/26/sports/autoracing/nascar-black-fans.html
Lawrence, A. (2020, June 23). Nascar failed to fight racism for 72 years. Don’t praise its support of Bubba Wallace yet. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/jun/23/nascar-bubba-wallace-racism-talladega-wendell-scott
NASCAR. (2021, January 20). NASCAR Diversity & Inclusion. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.nascar.com/diversity
Smith, C. (2020, February 13). Nascar Team Values Flatline As Series Struggles, But Its Leaders Aim To Shift Into A Higher Gear. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2020/02/13/nascar-team-values-flatline-but-series-leaders-aim-to-shift-into-a-higher-gear/?sh=5a76164d371d
The Colosseum. (2018, April 18). Ancient Roman Gladiators. Retrieved January 29, 2021, from https://www.thecolosseum.org/gladiators/
The Mob Museum. (n.d.). NASCAR Rooted in Prohibition Bootlegging Scroll to read more. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://prohibition.themobmuseum.org/the-history/prohibitionpotpourri/nascar-and-prohibition/
Weedon, G. (2015). Sport, Spectacle, and NASCAR Nation: Consumption and the Cultural Politics of Neoliberalism. Sociology of Sport Journal, 32(1), 106–109. https://doi.org/10.1123/ssj.2014-0037