The Coca-Cola Company has pushed out its top legal counsel after less than a year on the job and named its chief compliance officer to replace him.
Bradley Gayton, Coca-Cola’s senior vice president and global general counsel, will leave the position immediately and begin serving as a strategic consultant for CEO James Quincey, the company announced Wednesday.
“Bradley has shown himself to be a strategic and results-oriented leader,” Quincey said in the announcement. “Coca-Cola has benefitted from Bradley’s expertise and commitment to these challenges, and I am confident Bradley will continue to advance these initiatives in his role as a strategic consultant over the next year.”
“It has been a privilege to do such important work with my amazing colleagues in the legal department and to be part of Coca-Cola’s dynamic leadership team,” Gayton said. “I look forward to working with James in this new strategic role.”
Gayton received a lump sum payment of $4 million and will make approximately $8 million in consulting fees over the next 12 months, Coca-Cola disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Gayton had come to Coca-Cola in September from the Ford Motor Company, where he served as an executive for nearly 30 years. He replaced Bernhard Goepelt, who retired in February after working for Coca-Cola since 1992.
On Wednesday, Coca-Cola named Monica Howard Douglas to replace Gayton as senior vice president and general counsel. Douglas previously served as chief compliance officer and associate general counsel for the North America operating unit and has been with the company since 2004.
“She will oversee the continued evolution of the legal function at the company while also serving as a valued voice in helping lead our overall business,” Quincey stated.
In January, Gayton laid out a stringent diversity requirement for Coca-Cola’s outside legal counsel, mandating that at least 30 percent of billed hours be from attorneys of diverse backgrounds.
“The hard truth is that our profession is not treating the issue of diversity and inclusion as a business imperative,” Gayton wrote at the time. “We are too quick to celebrate stagnant progress and reward intention. We have a crisis on our hands and we need to commit ourselves to specific actions that will accelerate the diversity of the legal profession. Our profession needs to be representative of the population it serves. All of us in leadership positions need to be the drivers of that change—and we will be better for it.”
Coca-Cola earlier this month was among a handful of Georgia-based companies to object to a new state voting law that made it more difficult for people to vote, particularly people of color.
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