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UPDATE 1-P&G CEO would change debate from 'social justice to winning' to bolster diversity

(Adds comment from spokesperson, adds "In the current construct" to quote)

By Jessica DiNapoli

NEW YORK, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Procter & Gamble CEO Jon Moeller told Wall Street analysts on Thursday that changing the dialogue to "winning" from "social justice" would be a more effective way to promote women and diverse people.

In response to a question about why the Tide maker has not yet had a female CEO, despite women heavily using its laundry detergent and baby diapers, Moeller said "I expect that someday, you will" see a female CEO at P&G.

"I'd be very surprised if you wouldn't," he said, acknowledging that a "disproportionate number of our consumers are women."


Moeller added that it is a question for P&G's board, where he is also chairman. He was appointed CEO in 2021.

Social and political activism has taken hold in parts of Corporate America over the years, with some proponents pushing for greater gender and racial diversity on boards and in the C-suite.

Half of management at P&G is women, according to the company.

"If we could change this dialogue...from social justice, to winning, I think it's such a more powerful proposition because it doesn't allow anyone to opt out," he said. "In the current construct, I can say, 'Well, that's not something that I care about. That's not something that I historically contributed to.' No, no, no.

"This is fundamental to winning. You don't care about that? I've got a door to show you, right?" he added.

The consumer sector, where women drive purchases, has one of the highest percentages of female CEOs, 9%, in the S&P 1500, according to a report from executive recruiting firm Spencer Stuart. Moeller made his remarks at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference, where P&G rival Colgate is schedule to present Friday.

A P&G spokesperson said that at the conference Moeller also said: "But just generally on this topic, it is very important and fundamental to our company, and it has everything to do with serving and delighting consumers."

Moeller added that P&G has made "really significant progress" in linking diverse representation in its leadership to its business success.

"We're increasingly serving a more and more diverse group of consumers," he said. "One hundred percent of the growth in North America is going to be multicultural consumers in the next decade."

The United States is P&G's largest market. (Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York, Editing by William Maclean and Ros Russell)