News & Events

Tuesday 08 March, 2016

For International Women’s Day, let’s give our children a fairer future

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How can I tell my children that no matter how hard they work at school, that when they enter the job market, they’ll be paid less, just because of their gender?

It’s not a conversation I want to have – nor should I have to. But when I hear that in Europe, women earn 16% less than men*, I’m concerned.

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), a day we’ve been marking around the world for more than 100 years. One day, I hope we’ll no longer need a special day for women. But for now, I’m grateful that we have this day both to celebrate women’s achievements and to highlight the disparity that still exists between men and women. In fact, gender parity is the theme for IWD this year. It’s particularly apt when the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap report tells us that it will take a further 117 years to achieve global gender parity, a step backwards in closing the gender gap since their last report in 2014.  

At Coca-Cola Enterprises, we believe that there is a clear competitive advantage to having a truly diverse workforce. A diverse workforce means having diverse ideas, thinking and experience. And it’s more representative of the communities in which we operate. Seventy percent of the decisions to buy our products are made by women – so it makes business sense that our workforce is reflective of our consumers.

We’re pushing ourselves to achieve challenging goals. We’ve committed to have a minimum of 40 percent of women in both management and leadership grades across our business by 2025. Currently women make up only 26% of our workforce, and in our Supply Chain, this drops to 13%. We know we can do better.

We also know that manufacturing has an image problem – particularly for women. This is contributing to a predicted job gap of 900,000 in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) areas by 2020**. To help solve this problem, we’re giving STEM careers a facelift, especially among young women. This will help us recruit more women to Supply Chain in the future. We’re doing this by sharing inspiring stories of women who work in our factories and inviting young people to our eight education and visitor centres to demystify manufacturing and encourage them to pursue a career in manufacturing.

We are making progress with our gender balance, particularly for more senior positions. Currently, 33% of our Board of Directors are women, 30% of employees at executive grades are women (up 43% since 2012), 26% of employees in leadership grades are women (up 24% since 2012) and 38% of employees in management grades are female (up 19% since 2012).

We know we have a long way to go – but for the sake of both my colleagues and my children – I hope and believe it will be less than 117 years until we reach global gender parity.




** The European Commission

Maria Kokkinou

Chief Diversity Officer and Talent Acquisition Director

Maria Kokkinou is Chief Diversity Officer and Talent Acquisition Director for Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), being responsible for positioning CCE as an employer of choice.

Previously, she worked as Group Talent Manager for Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, leading leadership development and talent management. She has also worked at UBS Investment Bank and Citigroup, where she led resourcing teams across EMEA. She started her career at Deloitte where she spent six years in the Human Capital Advisory team.

Maria holds an MSc in Human Resources Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BSc in Business Administration from the Athens University of Economics and Business.

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