Wendy Clark is Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing Communications and Capabilities at the Coca-Cola company. She oversees global design, marketing communications, media, sponsorships, interactive marketing and marketing of the company's Live Positively sustainability platform.
- Did you watch Melinda Gates' talk at TEDxChange on what nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola?
- It went viral within Coke in about two minutes! It's thrilling, it's humbling to have someone like Melinda Gates recognize the power of the system. If others want to learn from it, we have to make it as good as possible. Because it is truly global, the scale of the company. It challenges your ability to "dream to scale." When Coke tells you to dream to scale, you pause for a moment in your mind and say, "Can I really dream big enough?" It keeps a lot of us up at night wondering if we can dream to the scale of the business.
- Last year at CGI, Coca-Cola committed to having 50% of your Africa- based Micro Distribution Centers run by women. This year, you've launched the 5 BY 20 program to scale that up ambitiously: You've committed to help train five million businesswomen worldwide by 2020. Why has Coca-Cola chosen to focus on women in such a significant way worldwide?
- If you look at our system and how we make money, it's through smaller mom-and-pops, what you might call micro-distributing. We have a vested interest to grow that: Our 2020 vision is to double the size of the company, And when you double-click inside that, you see a lot of female ownership of these smaller enterprises. Anytime you have something like 5 BY 20, you always want to make sure an initiative is germane and organic to you already. And this initiative is something that is very organic to our system. We've seen some attention already on the Micro Distribution Center model -- we've got over a thousand women who have ownership opportunities already. In India, we have buses that go around and do training for small retailers. We had a ton of learnings that came out of South Africa after the FIFA World Cup. We went in and activated very narrowly, down to individual retailers and restaurants. We've seen strong results, and many of those businesses are women-owned. This gave us confidence. Now we need to amplify and expand that idea.
- My colleague Marika McCauley Sine worked with Harvard Kennedy School data about the barriers to women's success. And there are three main barriers: The first is access to basic business skills -- marketing, the fundamentals of running a business. With a system as scaled as ours, that's something we can bring to bear. The second is access to financing and credit. In emerging and developing markets, it just isn't that accessible. And three: access to peers and mentors who are on similar journeys and similar paths, similar experiences. We embed one another's learnings into our practices. Because the one thing we know: Women fundamentally share their success. They share with family, they share with their communities, they share with each other. By enabling women, that will enable us to achieve our vision. At the same time, it clicks well above us. It will make cities, countries, the world better. It's part and parcel of our vision to make a positive difference in the world. Which is ambitious but amazing on many levels, to have an opportunity to create impact.
- When you think of an initiative like 5 BY 20, we recognize, the company can't do it by itself, first and foremost. We align with our bottlers, our distributors. Then we have to align with governments and NGOs, and then with other corporations and civil society more broadly. Anytime you have something this significant, you need to have all these parties completely aligned and pulling in the same direction. If we get the right partners we can do this and more. We'll be detailing this plan into 2011. This is really our focus, and it's enough! We've got to stay very very focused to get this done. It's a challenge to us and to those who want to come on this journey with us. I love having something as ambitious as this to go after every day. It will make the world that much better every day.
- Tell me a little bit about yourself. Is there a personal story that inspires you in your own work?
- I personally have been fortunate to have mentors throughout my career. Men, women; friends, professionals. If you’re lucky enough to have that, you know: You want to pay that forward. We know we'll only advance and achieve all the goals we have in mind if we do it together, collaboratively. Share our energy, share our passion and commitment.
- At Coke, I sit on the Women's Leadership Council, a small group of women that our CEO, Muhtar Kent, has chartered to say: "You have to ensure this is a great place where women can succeed." It's important throughout the company. Recently I went to the Fortune Most Powerful Women conference. And I'm sitting in that room and I think: "There's nothing we can't do." But single-digit decades ago, that was not the case. Within my mother's lifetime, that was not the case. For all the journeys that women before have been through, this is our moment.