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Diversity In Action

Diversity is big business at the Pepsi Bottling Group

PBG is currently seeking diverse engineers and IT pros for its New York State HQ, forty-five plants in the U.S. and another fifty plants worldwide


Karen Jordan manages the Nashville, TN Pepsi Bottling Group plant.

Karen Jordan manages the Nashville, TN Pepsi Bottling Group plant.

When the Pepsi Bottling Group (PBG) spun off from PepsiCo and became a publicly-traded company in 1999, it had an opportunity to develop new diversity strategies. The result is a global company that puts diversity first both with its employees and with its customers and communities.

"We are very customer-focused, because we're selling to the people who distribute our products," says Cecilia McKenney, group VP of HQ HR. Part of the group's diversity goal is to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace, she explains.

"Selling soda in local markets means having a substantial Cuban-American workforce in Miami and Asian Americans in San Francisco. We want to look like the marketplace," McKenney says. PBG is actively seeking diverse engineers and IT pros for HQ, forty-five U.S. plants and fifty more plants worldwide.

PBG sells more than half the Pepsi-Cola beverages sold in North America and 40 percent of Pepsi-Cola beverages worldwide That includes manufacturing, selling and delivering Pepsi-Cola products like soda, Aquafina bottled water, Tropicana juice drinks, Lipton iced tea, Starbucks Frappuccino and Doubleshot, the SoBe line of beverages and Dole single-serving juice and blends.

It all adds up to nearly 200 million glasses of these beverages a day in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe. And PBG also sells regional products in Greece, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Turkey, and does some distribution for other beverage companies.

PepsiCo makes and sells the syrup PBG uses to make soda, and provides marketing and advertising support. When PBG was formed, it took more than three quarters of the employees of Pepsi-Cola Co, and PepsiCo retained 40 percent ownership of PBG.

The group has grown since the spinoff. "We continue to increase our distribution of Pepsi products through acquisition of other bottlers," McKenney says.

PBG puts its diversity principles into practice with a diversity advisory board made up of execs from each business unit and from headquarters. The board includes minorities and women and is co-chaired by COO Eric Foss and SVP of HR John Berisford. Its primary business is to set diversity strategy, including a three-year strategic plan and annual initiatives toward its goals.

Board members also participate in PBG's affinity networks and groups, which gives them the opportunity to test the waters and get feedback from employees. IT VP Michele Leslie, for example, participates in Women at PBG. Ops VP Tony Ware is a member of the Black Employees Association.

The PBG networks partner with many of PepsiCo's affinity groups. "The networks are primarily focused on development of their members," says McKenney. They also help identify employees for sponsorship to attend professional conferences.

All new employees participate in a diversity "foundation training" course. The current 38,000 North American employees will participate in another course called "diversity matters" in 2006.

New managers get further training. The "making diversity matter" course shows them how to leverage differences on their teams. "Selecting the best" stresses managing for excellence.

PBG recruits experienced middle management engineers for supply chain, quality, warehouse ops, engineering and production management. Across the company, it also brings in 100 to 150 campus hires annually, up to a third of them engineers for operations positions. In the campus class of 2004, 32 percent were minorities and 55 percent women.

Annual planning reviews help employees develop their careers. A separate diversity review for middle management focuses on accelerating the development of diverse talent.

Mentoring programs are another critical component, McKenney says. "Nobody is too busy to mentor."

In a program called "focus on five," execs each mentor up to five high-potential, often diverse employees for a year. As they rise in the company, promising management folks may be selected to attend the leadership academy, where senior execs participate as mentors.

PBG likes its people to get involved with the communities where it sells its products, which means, of course, everywhere. The Pepsi Bottling Group Foundation's "We are involved neighbors" (WIN) program connects employees with community needs.

The foundation's new "rising stars" program awards scholarships to high-potential high school kids who need help to attend college. PBG works with community groups in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston and Phoenix to identify recipients.

The company offers its employees flexible benefits, including a full slate for domestic partners. Compressed workweeks, flexible scheduling and part-time work can be arranged, depending on specific needs.


The Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc
The Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc

Headquarters: Somers, NY
Employees: 65,000
Revenues: $10.906 billion
Business: Non-alcoholic beverages


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