People, Planet, Profit.

PEPSI Ethics & Environment (PDF)
PEPSI Picture Slides (PDF)

A: Forbes Magazine recently released an article calling some companies out for taking advantage of the corruption and cheap labor in underdeveloped countries. Many deals are being made under the table.
B: I read that article. Those countries – Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq – have very unstable governments. It’s unfortunate because corruption and conflict go hand in hand.
A: Corruption is running these countries into the ground. These companies have too much skin in the game to just leave. Anti-corruption agencies should really start cracking down and cleaning house.


To call someone out (pv) – to challenge someone, to draw attention to someone’s unacceptable behaviour, to criticize someone or ask them to explain their actions.
To do something under the table (i) – to do something secretly, often illegally.
To go hand in hand (i) – two things are related or go together, exist together. Often used as: A and B go hand in hand, OR, A goes hand in hand with B.
To run something into the ground (i) – to destroy or ruin something.
To have skin in the game (i) –to have something (money, reputation, ownership) to lose if something fails. To have a personal investment in the success of something.
To crack down (on something)(pv) – to enforce the law, to restrict illegal activities, to punish people.
To clean house (i) –to get rid of corruption, and unethical actions or behavior in an organization.

A: I just want to clear the air and address the elephant in the room. I can’t believe you were passed over for that promotion. You were next in line!
B: It’s fine. Let’s not bring that up.
A: I can’t believe you’re sitting on the fence like this. She went behind your back and sabotaged you. She stabbed you in the back. You took her under your wings when she first started working here. It doesn’t sit right with me. I’ll always have your back.
B: Thank you for the support but it’s all just water under the bridge. You reap what you sow. She’ll have it coming one day.


To clear the air (i) – to get rid of doubts, bad feelings, emotional tension.
The elephant in the room (i) – a major problem or sensitive issue that is obviously present but avoided.
To be passed over (pv) – to skip, to fail to select someone.
To bring something up (pv) – to raise a matter for discussion, to mention something.
To sit on the fence (i) – to be neutral, undecided, uncertain, avoid making a decision, to stay quiet.
To go behind someone’s back (i) – to do or say something negative secretly.
To stab someone in the back (i) – to betray someone.
To take someone under one’s wings (i) – to help, protect, guide, and mentor someone, especially when he or she is younger and less experienced.
To (not) sit right with someone (i) – to be uncomfortable with a situation.
To have someone’s back (i) – to be prepared to support or defend someone.
It’s water under the bridge (e)(i) – something is in the past and therefore no longer important.
You reap what you sow (pv) – karma, you eventually have to face up to consequences of your actions. Related: What comes around goes around.
To have it coming (i)(s) – to deserve something as the consequence of his or her actions.

A: Did you hear? It’s a jungle out there.
B: I only heard bits and pieces about management making big decisions behind closed doors. I don’t really have the full picture. Fill me in.
A: The people upstairs are forcing Jack to take the fall for the scandal. He’s their scapegoat. The cards are stacked against him.
B: Are you serious? They’re saying he cooked the books? He didn’t do anything. You think they paid him off? He’s going to face the music.
A: Maybe. Or they had him in their pocket and blackmailed him. The media has been on their back for the past few weeks. Management is pointing their finger at someone so they can start with a clean slate and keep their own involvement under wraps.
B: I’m sure everything will just blow over soon – knock on wood.
A: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. We’re not out of the woods yet.


It’s a jungle out there (e) – there’s a dangerous, chaotic world out there.
Bits and pieces (i) – small or random items, small parts of something.
To do something behind closed doors (i) – to do something secretly or without public knowledge.
To (not) have the full picture (i) – to (not) have a full understanding of a situation.
To fill someone in (pv) – to give someone all the details, to give them the full picture.
To take the fall for something or someone (i) – to take the blame or punishment for a failure or unethical act, voluntarily or involuntarily (a scapegoat). Synonym: a fall guy.
The cards are stacked against someone (i) – the luck is against you, there are obstacles in your way. Synonym: the odds are against someone.
To cook the books (i) – to manipulate financial data in a company. Books refer to financial documents.
To pay someone off (pv) – to bribe someone.
To face the music (i) – to accept responsibility and receive punishment for a wrongdoing, to accept the unpleasant results of one’s actions.
To have someone in one’s pocket (i) – to have complete control over someone, to own someone.
To be on someone’s back (i) – to repeatedly annoy, bother, criticize, harass, or nag someone.
To point one’s finger at someone (i) – to blame someone. Related: blamestorming.
To start with a clean slate (i) – to start fresh, to have a clean start, to forget the past and start over,
To keep something under wraps (i) – to conceal, or hide something. To not show or talk about it.
To blow over (pv) – to pass by or go away without serious consequences.
Knock on wood (e) – I hope my good luck continues. Knock on wood to avoid jinxing something.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch (p) – don’t celebrate prematurely.
To (not) be out of the woods (i) – to (not) be out of trouble, danger or difficult.


PEPSI Discussion Questions 

  1. Is it better to call someone out privately or publicly? Explain.
  2. What are two things that often go hand in hand?
  3. Do you think leaders of a company, a project should have skin in the game? How?
  4. Do you think people change their decisions, behavior or opinion if they had skin in the game? Why?
  5. Do you think there’s a lot of corruption in your country? Tell me about some recent corruption scandal in your country. How can we crack down on these activities?
  6. Tell me about a situation that would be described as the elephant in the room. 
  7. Tell me about a time someone went behind your back or stabbed you in the back.
  8.  Has anyone taken you under their wings? Have you taken anyone under your wings? What did you learn from this experience? If you could choose someone to take you under his or her wings, who would it be?
  9. If someone has wronged you, do you easily think it’s water under the bridge, you forgive and forget? Or do you hold grudges for a long time?
  10. Do you believe that you reap what you sow, or what comes around goes around? Can you give an example?
  11. If your son or daughter committed a serious crime, would you take the fall for him or her? And assuming that you did take the fall, he or she would stay out of jail for 3 years, and you would only have to serve community service for 300 days. Would you do it?
  12. Do you know about any company who cooked its books?
  13. Why do we often point the finger at someone else? Why don’t we take responsibility and accept the blame?
  14. Do you think criminals should start with a clean slate after they are released from prison? Or should they be labeled as ex-criminals, which we know makes it more difficult for them to find employment?