Coca-Cola appoints new general counsel

May 03, 2021
Monica Howard Douglas has been with the company for 17 years

The Coca-Cola Company has appointed Monica Howard Douglas as senior vice president and general counsel.

Douglas has been with the company for 17 years, most recently as chief compliance officer and associate general counsel for the North America operating unit. In her new role, she oversees Coca-Cola’s global legal function and reports to chair and CEO James Quincey.

Douglas joined the company in 2004 as senior managing counsel and has held roles such as legal director for Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa before being named general counsel for Coca-Cola North America in 2018.

Before joining the company, she was an attorney with Equifax and an associate at law firm Troutman Sanders, now known as Troutman Pepper.

‘Monica is an outstanding legal leader who has deep experience working across our company and systems,’ Quincey says in a statement. ‘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.’

Douglas succeeds Bradley Gayton, who the company says has been appointed to a strategic consultant role in which he will focus on working with Quincey on ‘certain key objectives.’

Gayton joined Coca-Cola last September after spending almost 30 years at Ford Motor Company, where he was most recently group vice president, chief administrative officer and general counsel. The company says in announcing his new role that Gayton has ‘led the global Coca-Cola legal organization through an important period of transition.’

Gayton earlier this year announced changes to Coca-Cola’s outside counsel guidelines to require that the US law firms it uses take concrete steps toward promoting diversity within their ranks. In an open letter, he complained that decades of discussions in the legal profession about the importance of diversity have led to score cards, summits, committees and plans – but that these are not working.

The outside counsel guidelines he announced include seeking commitments from law firms such as that they will give Coca-Cola self-identified diversity data (including American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, black, women, Hispanic/Latinx, LGBTQ+, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander and people with disabilities) for the company’s quarterly analysis of the diversity of teams working on its legal matters.

The commitments also include that on each new Coca-Cola matter, at least 30 percent of each of billed associate and partner time will be from diverse attorneys, and of such amounts at least half will be from black attorneys. In addition, Gayton outlined initiatives Coca-Cola’s legal department was undertaking in engaging with and encouraging peers at other companies to do the same.

‘I, along with the company’s leadership team and the board of directors, thank Bradley for his service as our global general counsel,’ Quincey says in a statement. ‘I look forward to working with him in this new role. [He] has shown himself to be a strategic and results-oriented leader. Coca-Cola has benefitted from Bradley’s expertise and commitment to these challenges, and I am confident [he] will continue to advance these initiatives in his role as a strategic consultant over the next year.’

Gayton says in the announcement: ‘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. I look forward to working with James in this new strategic role.’

A company spokesperson declined further comment.

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