Physically speaking, around our corporate office my direct team includes 22 people. We work closely with other sustainability professionals at our headquarters and around the world to drive our agenda. We also work closely with our bottling partners. And then there's external support from WWF, and others. We know that the expectation is high for a company like Coca-Cola, so we must step up to the plate.
MA: How would you rate top-down support at the company for sustainable development?
BP: It starts right at the top. Our CEO, has put the financial and emotional investments in place to make a difference. For example, he recently brought together our entire executive team and all the top bottlers, and the topic of sustainability was at the top of the agenda. The enthusiasm in the room for our initiatives was unparalleled. Not one person in the room had concerns, the only questions were: "how can we do more and continue to embed sustainability more into our system?"
MA: It hasn't been a smooth and easy road to get to this point where sustainability is now the second top navigation link on the home page of Coca-Cola's website. How far has the company come to get here?
BP: It is always a journey, and there are peaks and valleys. Although we have some powerful programs, we can still do more. When I first did some investigation, I saw proof points of our efforts all the way back to 1917 when we launched a partnership with the Red Cross. We also had the first female ever appointed to a corporate board in the 1930s and we were the first to lightweight our packaging.
I think Coca-Cola's standing has gotten better. There was a time when it was mostly positive and then we stopped engaging in the consumer dialogue. One of the turning points for me came when we brought in a group of "mommy bloggers" to Atlanta and just listened. We wanted to understand what they thought about our company and our brands.
It was one of those "a-ha moments," to hear what the bloggers said, and this will be the third year that we've brought them back in for a conversation. It's been really interesting to hear their views about where we are making progress and what we need to work on more.
MA: I found the "addressing your questions" page to be the most unique and transparent portion of your website. What are some of the most common questions you get asked by stakeholders as CSO?
BP: We get asked questions like: How do you manage water resources? What do you do to support community recycling? How many calories are in this beverage? With calories, we don't just put it on our website; we also put it on the front of our packaging. We get a lot of questions about sweeteners, what's in Coke Zero versus Diet Coke. On our website and in all of our communications, we're being transparent, we're being honest, we're not hiding anything. We want people to know what they're putting in their bodies. And we want people to know how we run our business. The website is a great resource.
Next page: What the future holds for the PlantBottle