How DiversityInc Got the
We wouldn’t say that our relationship with Coca-Cola over the years has been warm. It certainly has been mutually respectful, but our critical coverage, especially during the court
decision six years ago, made them somewhat reserved (especially after we ran that “baloney
meter” story six years ago).
However, they understood that our editorial integrity also gave them credit and credibility for their diversity-management accomplishments when they earned a spot on our DiversityInc Top 50 list in 2003. Last
year, they rose to become the No. 3 company.
When we were contacted by The Coca-Cola
Co. to interview their CEO and top executives
on the occasion of leaving court supervision, it
was the single most rewarding editorial invitation we’ve ever had. Coca-Cola could have gone
to any publication—and could have asked for
conditions—but they came to us, asked for
nothing and gave us total access.
Luke Visconti and Managing Editor Sakina
Spruell interviewed Coca-Cola CEO E. Neville
Isdell for 90 minutes. We had complete access to
top executives and Coca-Cola did not ask for
(and did not receive) editorial overview or preview. Nothing was “off the record.”
In the interest of total disclosure, Coca-Cola
is a very minor customer of DiversityInc—last
year was the most business they’ve ever done
with us, but it was still less than one-quarter of
1 percent of our total revenue. What was particularly rewarding about this process is that
“business” never came up. There was a ground-spring of desire to tell the whole story. In the
nine years that DiversityInc has been publishing,
we’ve never seen greater clarity—and more
openness—from a company.
The Coca-Cola cover story is pretty remarkable for a relatively small publication, but it’s one
we feel is the direct result of how we run our
business: since we founded DiversityInc in 1998,
we have made sure that the readers come first.
There are two owners of DiversityInc: Foulis
Peacock and Luke Visconti. Foulis runs all
advertising, career-center and benchmarking
sales. Luke runs editorial, marketing and circulation. There is no pay-to-play at DiversityInc.
Content and advertising are totally separate.
Our salespeople cannot discuss coverage and
journalists are not allowed to accept gifts—even
lunch. Could we have received more business from
Coca-Cola if we had pulled our punches six years
ago? Maybe, but we consider that kind of deal to
be trading short-term gain for long-term loss.
We understand that the best way to take care of
our advertisers is to make sure we have the highest
engagement of our audience. In essence, engagement is the core business function—engagement
drives market share and margin.
In a nutshell, Coca-Cola’s triumphant recovery
from the largest race-based court settlement is a
testament to engagement—leadership leveraged
their corporate culture, and from the onset, the
process was one of inclusion and engagement
across gender, race, orientation, disability and
age. It worked.
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