Elect best US president beyond race, gender: Nooyi

May 23rd, 2008 - 1:13 am ICT by admin  

New York, May 22 (IANS) With a woman and a black hoping to become US president, PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi, one of the most powerful women in world business, has expressed the view that only the best should be elected regardless of gender or race. Nooyi, the first Indian-origin person and a woman to rise to the top in the food and beverages giant, said that “both the first woman president or first African-American president would be frame-breaking but having the best president will be best for the US.”

In her interview titled “Meet the Framebreaker” published in CNBC European Business magazine’s June issue, she has also clarified her stand on joining Washington politics. “I’ve not said that I want to join Washington politics, but at some point, I’d like to give back to the country,” she said.

Nooyi said the biggest challenge she faced in making the corporate climate at PepsiCo inclusive for women was figuring out how to accommodate women or people with special needs in the workforce without burdening those who have to compensate.

“We know the problem, but we’re still trying to find the solution,” she said when asked if the culture she has created at PepsiCo was more important overall, than, say a maternity deal.

Nooyi, who has successfully restructured PepsiCo as CEO and earlier as chief financial officer, said the global company has created a very specific diversity and inclusion programme.

“We set goals and time frames and held people accountable for getting to them. The first step was getting people in, but that’s only half the problem because if they leave it’s more painful for the organisation.

“Step two is inclusion. For example, if a woman says something, don’t immediately interpret it as if a man said it, or expect a woman to react to a comment in the same way as a man. You will have a different dynamic with women, African-Americans or Latinos because each group is a product of their socio-economic culture,” she said.

On leadership, she said, it is hard to define and good leadership even harder. “But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader,” she said.

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