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PepsiCo CEO: Hiring more women and people of color is a 'business imperative'

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo
Matthew Staver | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Indra Nooyi, the CEO and chairman of PepsiCo, is an Indian woman.

That's not the reason that one of the company's 10-year performance objectives is to increase the diversity of its ranks, however.

Nooyi says that increasing the diversity of the team is a "business imperative."

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"Whether you are a male CEO or a female CEO, it is a business imperative," said Nooyi in an interview with CNBC's Sara Eisen. "Because if you look at graduating seniors from colleges, more than 50 percent are women. More than 50 percent!"

Currently, 27 percent of senior executives at PepsiCo are women, and 36 percent are people of color, according to a roadmap of the company's 10-year professional goals.

"And if you look at the best grades, they are being gotten by women," said Nooyi. "So if you really want companies to be successful, we have got to draw from the entire pool, not just try to say, 'Hey, we are going to exclude a portion of the population.'"

One reason why corporate executive ranks do not match the general population is because there are not adequate policies to support women after they enter the workforce, she said.

Indeed, the U.S. is one of the only developed nations in the world that does not have a paid maternity leave policy.

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In the past, Nooyi has been frank about her struggles balancing the roles of wife, mom and highly successful corporate executive. In an interview with David Bradley of The Atlantic, she recalled the night she got a call from the then PepsiCo chairman and CEO telling her that she would be promoted to president and made a member of the board of directors.

Nooyi went home at 10 p.m. (an early night for her) excited to tell her family the good news, but before she could, her mother told her to go back out and buy some milk. When Nooyi asked why her mother hadn't sent her husband on the errand, she said he was tired and that Nooyi best not forget that president or not, she would always be the wife, the daughter and the mother when she came home.

Nooyi used some parenting hacks to manage being an executive and a mom, but it was never perfect, she said. For example, when her daughter called the office wanting to play video games, Nooyi had her secretary make sure her homework was done first.