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PepsiCo's Cornell makes case for diverse leadership

Wednesday, October 23, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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PepsiCo Inc.’s diverse workforce is a key strength and empowering women helps the company’s competitive position, Brian Cornell, CEO of PepsiCo Americas Foods, told the more than 1,000 women and men attending the NEW Summit, Oct. 21-23, 2013 in Los Angeles.

To succeed, PepsiCo Americas Foods "has to reflect the changing customer environment. We have to make sure it’s part of our DNA,” Cornell said. The PepsiCo executive participated in a one-on-one discussion with NEW Past Chair Michelle Gloeckler, senior vice president and general merchandise manager, home, Walmart U.S.

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"We spend time benchmarking other organizations, including what they are suggesting to empower women,” Cornell said.

Policies that advance diversity and inclusion must have "a compelling return on investment,” he said, adding that creating a case for D&I "has to start at the top.”

Cornell looks for specific traits in women he sponsors. "Lead with consistency and be great listeners. Plus, I look for people with high energy,” he said, drawing calls of enthusiasm from the crowd.

Companies and industry leaders must recognize female leaders who have already made a difference, advance women who will motivate and inspire, and recruit new women to the industry. "We’ve got a long way to go,” Cornell said.

Looking back on his career so far, Cornell said rising up the corporate ladder means greater challenges and effort. "I’ve worked more hours today than I’ve worked at any point earlier in my career, "Cornell said. But, he has come to realize "it’s okay to spend time with your kids. It’s okay to take those moments. I wish I would have had someone earlier in my career to say, ‘You know what? It’s okay.’

"Over time, people’s needs change,” he added, saying an organization that can consider changes in an employee’s personal life, whether that involves growing children or aging parents, can maintain a positive and productive level of trust.

"You have to have sustained energy and consistency to deliver results. I was one of those people who didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, until I recognized that what I was doing wasn’t going to be sustainable.”

Policies that advance diversity and inclusion must have "a
compelling return on investment," PepsiCo Americas Foods CEO
Brian Cornell (right) told NEW Past Chair Michelle Gloeckler.

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