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tv   Firing Line With Margaret Hoover  PBS  January 22, 2022 5:30am-6:00am PST

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>> what is the future e of work? this week on "firing line." >> i think my success is as much an american story as it is my story. >> born in india to a family focused on education, hers would take her to america and the top of the corporate ladder. indra nooyi became the 11th female ceo of a fortune 500 company in 2006, taking control of an iconic american portfolio, pepsico. during her 12-year tenure, she pushed the soda and snack-food giant towards healthier choices and a cleaner environmental footprint but asks herself whether it was enough. >> we want to do our job to make society better. >> these days, she's thinking about how to fix the care economy as she reflects on her own juggling act. >> i don't think women can have it all. the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other. >> with more companies
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taking a stand on social and political issues and questis about the future of work and the workplace, what does indra nooyi say now? >> "firing line with margaret hoover" is made possible in part by... and by... corporate funding is provided by... >> indra nooyi, welcome to "firing line." >> thank you for having me, margaret. i look forward to our conversation. >> your memoir, "my life in full: work, family, and our future," arrives at a moment in the covid-19 pandemic when the workforce has been forced to soul search about work-life balance and about what the future
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of work will look like. is the shock of living and working through a pandemic, as difficult as it has been, an opportunity to sort of fundamentally reset our priorities? >> that's a great, great opening question, margaret, because i agree with you -- in this moment of stillness, where most of the world came to a standstill and shut down, i hope we emerge from it a better humanity. i think we ought to look at this pandemic as a wake-up call on so many dimensions. a wake-up call in terms of how we think about our health and the interplay between human beings and animals. it's also a wake-up call on families because coming out of the pandemic, we have this unique opportunity to put families at the center of the discussion on work of the fure. i think that's going to be a very, very important part, which is going to be enabled by the fact that all these remote technologies, remote learning, remote meetings, zoom, chime,
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all of these technologies are now advanced and so prevalent, it gives us more drees of freedom. but it's also a time we have to be very careful not to create a two-class society, where we have the office workers who can actually think about flexibility and think about hybrid work, but the essential worker has no choice but to show up at work every day and we don't include them in the discussions of the future of work. so i think this is a very interesting time in the evolution of humankind in the last century, and i hope we pause and think about what kind of society we're trying to build. >> your book includes rich details about your life. you described a commitme to education during your childhood in india, your decision to come to the united states. you walk through your rise through some of the world's most influential companies, which ultimately landed you as the chief executive officer of pepsico.
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your story sounds a lot like an american dream realized. and yove said that it couldn't have happened anywhere else. why do you believe that? >> well, i've seen leaders in many other countries, and i honestly don't believe somebody coming from india in theime that i came, a woman from an emerging market, could have risen to the position i did in anyther country. i really don't think so. and i also don't think mentors would have showed up the way they did in the united states to pull me along. so i think my success is as much an american story as it is my story. >> when you became the ceo of pepsico in 2006, you launched performance with purpose, which was a new approach to creating a more sustainable company. you articulated three pillars -- nourish, replenish, and cherish. i'd like to talk about nourish first,
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because you describe a meeting with the founder of apple, steve jobs -- that was in 2008 -- and his first piece of advice to you was to half the amount of sugar in pepsico products, at which point you laughed. and you said, "we would have no company left." would you give steve jobs the same answer today? >> yes, i would, because i think the key thing is, there's a product portfolio that existed in pepsico that was very successful, and there's a consumer taste for it and a consumer demand for it. and the y i came at steve jobs's challenge to me was, i wasn't going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. i was going to create new products with zero calories, with more nutrition. so i accomplished the same goal, except i came at it through a more shareholderensible way than just arbitrarily cutting the sugar in half on everything and having all my consumers walk away from me. so i think the challenge for consumer products companies and the big opportunity for pepsico was,
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offer the better-for-you and the good-for-you choices. put it all out there on the shelf, and make sure that the better-for-you and good-for-you choices are at eye level and nudged the consumer towards the better food choices. that's really what we were trying to do. >> so, despite your efforts to engineer healthier pepsico products, during your 12 years as ceo, the obesity rate among american adults jumped from 34% to 42%, according tohe cdc. now, you have made the case that the way to tackle this problem is through a holistic, unified approach that includes the private sector, that includes the government, that includes voluntary organizations. tell me more about what that would look like and how we would tackle that problem and then what role the private sector ought to play in it. >> you know, there's good news in this whole discussion, because obesity is a systems issue. it involves, you know, exercise,
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it involves what you eat, it involves portion control, it involves a whole bunch of things, and it involves genetics. we can't forget that. okay? and so we have to approach this in very, very creative ways. the great news is, as an industry, the food and beverage industry got together and said, "obesity is a challenge for the country. so let us work together to reduce the caloric value of our products." and we committed to removing 1.5 trillion calies from the american diet in five years. and we got our biggest critic, the robert wood johnson foundation, to be the independenjudge of whether we actually reduced those calories. lo and behold, in five years, we took out almost 6 trillion calories from the american diet. in spite of that, obesity went up, which means that consumers were making choices about what they eat and how much they ate of it that was way beyond the packaged food and beverage business. so i think if we are going
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to solve obesity as an issue, and we should coming out of the pandemic, because it's a comorbidity that makes people sicker, i think it requires private sector, pharmas, government, everybody coming together, because right now, the incentives for nutrition and the incentives in agriculture are not ev aligned. you know, fruit and vegetables cost too much, but we have tremendous incentives for corn. and i ll you, one of the big learnings from my experience in the united states is, if we put our minds to something, we will address it. i have great confidence we can get to an answer, but we have to start off saying it's a systems solution. >> when yoretired as ceo of pepsico in 2018, you said your biggest disappointment was not moving faster to diversify the company's portfolio away from sugary sodas and salty snacks. reflecting back, why is that? >> look, you can't go too fast in these cases
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because the original product has been optimized for great taste, and consumers expect it to be tasting awesome. if you're going to tinker with these products, you've got to tinker with them very, very carefully. so i realized that this was going to take time. i didn't realize how complex the technological challenge was and how we had to get the consumer with us. so we had to actually take down the sugar a little bit at a time and get the consumer's tongue, you know, sort of to get used to a low level of sweetness. i wanted to keep building on our brand and make it more and more healthy. but the fact of the matter is, in the time i was there, i put in place enough capabilities, enough building blocks, and my successor is doing a wonderful job with it. >> replenish was a pillar of your pwp program, focused on environmental sustainability. you write, quote...
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you talk about spotting pepsico products in the north atlantic garbage patch. pepsico and coca-cola most recently were among a group of more than 70 international companies that have called for a global pact to combat plastic pollution. are you satisfied with the pace of change in this area? >> everything i wish could go faster. you know, for me, it's like big problems like this, we just need to go as fast as we can. but let me talk out the push and the pull. as long as there's a strong consumer demand for convenience, as long as there's a demand for throwaway bottles as opposed to reusable bottles, it's going to be a challenge for companies to unilaterally make change. and so we have to rethink how much convenience are we willing
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to give up in order to help the environment. so it's a push and a pull that has to be thought through. >> you write quite a bit about the mentors who were so critical in guiding you through your career. in this moment of remote work and zoom culture, how can leaders mentor young employees in a remote-work environment? >> i don't know. if there's one thing that i think about -- i worry about a lot is, you know, what's the corporate culture and everybody's working remote? how do you really understand the human aspects of interaction and development in a remote-working environment? would we end up with a situation where those who come to work are going to be promoted and those that don't come to work regularly are going to be held behind? i worry about all of those things. i'm glad i'm not a ceo today i have to deal with all of these dimensions. but i will tell you that there's a lot to be said for being in the office, for being in meetings,
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for walking in corridors and, you know, sort of sticking your head into meetings and seeing what's going on. so i think where we have to get to, some judicious mix of remote working for a couple of days of the week, coming into the office three or four days of the week, and alternating between husband and wife if both are working so that both can make their careers happen, but work on days when the other one is working from home. so we have to evolve all kinds of work styles. there's a lot of thinking and experimentation that has to happen the next year or two. >> in 2019, more than a hundred ceos of the business round table signed a letter committing to stakeholder focus rather than a shareholder focus. and you write in your book that that made you feel vindicated. are stakeholders more important than shareholders? >> it's not about stakeholders versus shareholders. shareholders are critically important because they give us the money to fund the company and to keep going. so i think
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it's a judicious balance. if you say maximizing shareholder value delivery at the expense of everything else, which is what many companies and ceos have been doing, that's terrible. i think the stakeholder focus is not movg away from shareholders to stakeholders, it's a judicious mix of shareholders, plus the other stakeholders, because big companies are part of societies, and we all owe those societies a duty of care. we can't just go in and do whatever we want and then say, "hey, tough luck. your government has to take care of it." so i think if you take a stakeholder focus, you have a different appreciation for the societies and the people within whom you're operating, and you'll run a better company for the long term. >> i'm sure you're aware that there has been some research conducted about whether some of the firms who have signed that letter are actually walking the walk. one research paper i read found quote...
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so, you knowhow do you tackle the criticism that many of the ideals set forth in that letter were simply window dressing? >> well, it would be a tragedy if it s a window dressing. you know, right after they signed the brt statement, we went through the pandemic. so i think, coming out of the pandemic, i honestly believe many ceos want to make the changes. i would not judge them based on what they did during the pandemic, because that was confusing times for everyone. let's see what happens going forward. you know, i'll speak to pepsico. they're doing a great job. everything i'm reading in the press about what peico is doing on environmental issues, i'm proud of what my successor and the team are doing. >> in 1990, i think you know that this program
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originally was hosted by william f. buckley jr., and it ran for 33 years. in the orinal incarnation of the program, in 1990, william f. buckley jr. welcomed nobel laureate economist milton friedn, and the program was entitled "what do we owe our country?" i'd like to share with you a clip from that program and get your reaction afterwards. here it is. >> society is a vehicle, which will give -- continue to protect your sons and mine, and that it has -- we have, therefore, an interest in the shape of that society. >> of course we do. but the question is, why is it that you have had so much of a reduction in the sense of gratitude? in my opinion, it's primarily because we have been doing so much through government. it's primarily because we have an overblown, overgrown government, and as a result, we have destroyed a sense
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of individual responsibility and responsibility to one another. now, everydy takes it for granted that if there's a problem, the government's going to take care of it. >> do you agree withhis argument that the government can take on too much and that can crowd out the private sphere's initiative and inclination to help dive in and solve problems? >> you know, there's no right answer for this. there are those that believe government is overbloated and inefficient. there are those that believe government has got to do more. everybody has demonstrated amply that milton friedman, what he said, has, you know, some validity but also has major flaws with it. and so i'm not for an overblown government. i'm not for everything going to the private sector. i think there's a role for both. >> let me ask you a different milton friedman question, because in the context of this shareholder-stakeholder debate, i've heard you sort of defend
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friedman. what is it that people are getting at when they are vilifying friedman and shareholder primacy? >> well, it's shareholder primacy at all costs, which is, you know, just put pedal to the metal, just cut costs, outsource,ffshore, do everything possible, and run a lean, mean fighting machine. i think there's a balance, margaret. so when milton friedman talked about shareholder primacy, i think there was another line somewhere in one of the speeches where he talks about you all society, a duty of care. we forgot that part. and milton friedman never emphasized that part, but that exists in some of the writings he has. i think we have to come back to focus on this duty of care to society. >> blackrock's larry fink has been urging ceos for several years now to consider how they can personally contribute to society, and just this week, he wrote his annual letter, and it said, quote...
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what did you think when you read his letter or when you heard about that letter? >> i mean, i know larry fink well. brilliant man, and he thinks this way. and so, to put it in such elegant terms and articulate it the way he did in this letter, you know, kudos to him. i mean, there's nothing about what he said that you can fault. it's sensible capitalism. what he's talking about is capitalism with humanity, capitalism the way it was intended to be. why are we hijacking capitalism to be something it shouldn't be? why are we saying it's got to be maximizing shareholder value at the expense of everybody els somebody's going to have to pay the collateral costs
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of all of the damage that capitalism creates, even if it's to the exclusion of everything else. so i think we should parse larry fink's letter very, very carefully and really understand the spirit of it and say, "what is it going to take fous to implement that in society without an overbloat government?" i'm not for huge government, you know, being intrusive in every aspect of our life and being inefficient. i'd like an efficient government serving all the people in the spirit of larry fink's letter. >> millennials, as you know, are less inclined to support capitalism, probably less inclined than any generation before them. according to a 2018 gallup poll, 45% of them view capitalism positively. do corporations have a role to play to educate millennials about the good that capitalism has done and to push back against the drumbeat of socialism that is ascendant in that generation? >> i don't think people know
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what socialism is, really, and all that they're interpreting in capitalism is too much is owing to the top. and they're looking at many issues in society not addressed. and since they don't have anybody to blamethey assume it's capitalism gone awry. the answer is not capitalism versus socialism. it's capitalism the way larry fink has articulated it. and if you have capitalism with humanity, capitalism with a view to all stakeholders, i think this word socialism will disappear from our lexicon and be replaced with capitalism with humanity. >> your rise to the top of pepsico put you in a very small sisterhood of female ceos leading fortune 500 companies. you were the 11th. and you cite progress in the number of women now at the top -- 41. you're also an immigrant and a person of color. and there is a major push in the corporate world for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
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you say diversity is, quote, "a numbers game while inclusion is a mind-set." explain the distinction. >> see, whenever somebody has a diversity program, which is very important, and i'm going to come to why it's important to have the numbers game first, it's you bring the people in. you hire them in, and you promote them and you put them in positions. but if you don't make it easier for them to function and contribute and you put a lot of barriers in their way in terms of unconscious bias, in terms of not really including them in the seats of decision-making, they're going to feel disenfranchised. and pretty soon, you strip away their confidence and then their competence, and then they leave. that's not the outcome you're looking for. so that's why the mind-set in the company to make all talent feel included is critically important before you start any diversity program. so step one is diverty, getting the critical mass of diverse people into the company. step two, or step 1.1,
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is practicing the inclusionary behavior, because sometimes people have just behaved a certain way to each other for years. for example, sometimes men talked over me -- and i talk about this in the book -- or they rolled their eyes when i talked. but by drawing attention to small issues like that, you can sensitize people to saying, "hey, you're in an environme where there are diverse sets of people around here. why can't you be more sensitive to how your behavior is bng perceived by people?" it's as simple as that, margaret. so i think that you need a critical mass of diversity, and then you practice inclusionary behavior. so one is numbers, the other is a mind-set and a behavior, and you need both to work if you want to create an environment in your company where all the best and brightest can come to work. >> you spend a lot otime now advocating for the care economy and the need for a better work-life balance for both men and women. >> yeah. >> but you told
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the harvard business review in november that "all bets are off" when it comes to work-life balance once you make it to the c-suite. now, in your farewell letter to 270,000 pepsico employees, you write... does being a ceo simply mean that there are some sacrifices that must be made when it comes to parenting andamily? >> absolutely. i mean, it's not just being a ceo. all of us go through life wishing we had done more of this, wishing we had been a better mother, better father, better uncle. in my case, i was ceo at a time when technology was not prevalent. we didn't even have a smartphone. internet was in its infancy. these remote technologies didn't exist, so i couldn't go home, pick up the kids off the bus, and then continue working after 5:00 or 6:00. so i grew up in a different time. the great thing about covid is, it advanced all these technologies. i'm actually looking at this one development
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as a silver lining in covid. it taught us what flexible working is all about, and the technologies have developed and are going to develop in even more profound ways. >> you told the new york times that you had never asked for a raise because you "find it cringeworthy." after that, you clarified to fortune that you weren't telling others not to speak up but that your own cultural upbringing was what had stopped you from asking for certain things like money. you know very well that women are making 83 cents for every dollar of their male counterparts. how should women advocate for themselves with respect to salary? >> so, i am a huge, huge proponent of pay parity. there's no way out of it. i mean, look, two people for the same job they do should get paid the same amount of money. man-woman, man-man, woman-woman, i don't care. i had my h.r. department do an analysis, and they came back and said, "look, by and large,
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we're within 2%." some of the women were getting paid 2% less. i said, "what if we gave them 2% more? if 2% doesn't matter, let's pay them 2% more, then." so they got the message, and they made sure pay parity was, you know, a strong message that went across the entire company. so i think it starts with the top, margaret. the tone at the top is important. and i am a big, big, big proponent of pay parity. i've got two daughters, for crying out loud. i do not want them to ever feel even remotely discriminated against. and forget my daughters -- every woman in the world is my daughter. okay? i want them to feel that they're treated fairly and that they can ask for something if they believe that they're being discriminated against. >> indra nooyi, thank you for your leadership and thank you for your time at "firing line." >> thank you for having me, margaret. appreciate it. >> "firing line with margaret hoover" is made possible in part by...
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and by... corporate funding is provided by... >> you're watching pbs.
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