Coca-Cola faces backlash over seminar asking staff to ‘be less white’

The drinks company has been accused of ‘blatant racial discrimination’

Jade Bremner
Wednesday 24 February 2021 14:17 GMT
<p>Coca-Cola attempts to build an ‘inclusive workplace’ </p>

Coca-Cola attempts to build an ‘inclusive workplace’

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Coca-Cola has come under fire from conservative critics, who have accused the drinks brand of reverse racism, after it used a training video that encouraged staff to “try to be less white”.

The content of a training session was leaked by a Coca-Cola employee who sent pictures of slides asking white people to be “less ignorant,” and “less oppressive”.

The training session was in association with Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, and was sent to staff to help build an “inclusive workplace”.

DiAngelo has done diversity training for businesses for more than 20 years and previously said she has experienced hostility from white people when talking about race during her training. Her White Fragility book discusses the response white people have when their skin tone is mentioned. She argues that ‘wokeness’ also doesn't deal with the problem of race, as it helps to avoid questioning one’s own unconscious racist bias.

One slide in her training session sent to Coca-Cola employees outlined that "to be less white" is to be less "arrogant", "certain" and "defensive".

Another slide expressed the idea that in order to confront racism you first have to understand what it means to be white.

“Research shows that by age 3 to 4, children understand that it is better to be white,” read another slide.

Lawyer and Republican Party official Harmeet Dhillon shared photos of the seminar on Twitter, commenting that the course includes "blatant racial discrimination".

"It doesn’t get much more racist than this", commented Arizona's Republican 2022 Republican Congress candidate Josh Barnett on the post.

Conservative commentator Candace Owens added: “If a corporate company sent around a training kit instructing black people how to ‘be less black’, the world would implode and lawsuits would follow.”

In a statement to The Independent, the drinks giant said the seminar was not part of Coca-Cola's “learning curriculum.”

“Our Better Together global training is part of a learning plan to help build an inclusive workplace. It is comprised of a number of short vignettes, each a few minutes long," the brand said.

"We will continue to listen to our employees and refine our learning programs as appropriate," continued Coca-Cola's statement.

The Confronting Racism course, with Robin DiAngelo, was publicly available on the employment site LinkedIn until recently, it has since been removed.

A representative for DiAngelo told The Independent: “The online training from LinkedIn Learning that was circulating was not a course by Dr. DiAngelo, but a series of interview clips that had been edited together without her knowledge and presented as an educational resource.

“She had no involvement in it being presented or marketed as a training session , did not approve its distribution, did not know it was being used in corporate settings, and because of that, it has been removed from the site and discontinued voluntarily by the groups that created and distributed it.”

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