Equality and Diversity in Employment.
(1) In analysis of the ‘Thirst Burst’ case study there are a number of different issues facing the company. First, Thirst Burst as a company, is in a high-pressure setting in trying to achieve its vision of becoming the UK’s largest retail juice outlet. This vision creates great stress not only for the upper management but for all employees as well. This pressure stems from the competitive nature needed to achieve such results along with the uncertainties that are involved whenever a company searches to expand.
In acquiring a new distribution plant, Thirst Burst also faced the challenge of assimilating the plant to work under the production standards and guidelines of its existing plants. Along with the acquisition of the brick and mortar, Thirst Burst also acquired the previous employees of this company. This led Thirst burst to have to educate the new employees on how business is handled under Thirst Burst and also the employee dynamic of these new employees were different from the usual makeup of Thirst Employees. This caused Thirst Burst to have to change its ways to accommodate the diversity of the employees.
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In efforts to increase the managerial staff Thirst Burst chose to keep costs down and promote from within. However, with the changing dynamics of the Thirst Burst employees, this is counter productive in that the great deal of existing employees fell under the general makeup of being white and male. Thereby deterring efforts to diversify all aspects of its business.
The creation of a training and development program also slowed the need for diversity, as it gave managers the ability to recruit based on the guidance of, “ask anyone you regard as suitable and whom you think would fit in.” Since white male largely held management positions, the recruitment was largely steered in that direction and also discouraged other groups from taking part, for example females.
Uncertainties in management led to high employee turnover rates and even to claims of discrimination by some employees when faced with tests that were only set in English, a language that was not the employees’ first spoken. Also, the newly integrated employees who were of different racial makeup created turmoil among existing employees who claimed that these employees did not integrate with the existing employees.
The offset in employee satisfaction was even more evident after the October 2001 food scare, which caused a decline in sales along with the number of new job applicants. The food scare also created great tension within Thirst Burst, especially in health and safety procedures. This led to bias and irrational decisions made by management to create a controlled atmosphere among employees. However the choices made by management were focused more on individuals than on the entire field of employees and thus created a great level of unnecessary disdain between management and individual employees. The turn of events that followed led management to give this employee great warning about her apparel and when the employee refused to heed to these warnings citing religious belief and that other employees wore similar apparel that went without scrutiny by management. What followed were efforts to single out this employee for her action and management forced a ring of solidarity upon her, which eventually tied into her becoming ill and led her to take a case to tribunal claiming discrimination.
(2) The use of an equality and diversity oriented approach can ease some of the problems facing Thirst Burst. First, the more diverse an organization is facilitates its ability to attract, retain and maximize the utilization of the people from those diverse backgrounds. (Hollinshead, Nicholls, Tailby; 1999) Foreign employees are best understood in light of a diverse organization, also the diverse organization is best equipped to serve a diverse external clientele.
Next, creativity thrives on diversity as a multicultural organization displays higher creativity and innovation. Another resource in diverse organizations is the ability to problem solve at a greater rate of resolution, which would have had a desirable effect in calming the food scare and the handling of individual employees afterwards. Research shows that such catastrophic disasters as the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Challenger Explosion, and the My Lai Massacre are all examples of extreme consequences of groupthink that occurred in highly cohesive, homogenous groups. (Kandola, Fullerton; 1998) For example the homogenous group of white males that dominate the management positions at Thirst Burst.
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The promotion of diversity at Thirst Burst is not just about dealing with different races and nationalities working together but instead is about celebrating and promoting the differences brought to the workplace by each individual. This requires organizations to adapt to the cultural differences and sociological changes. This carries two-fold for an organization. It places an internal need to make everyone feel comfortable and valued, to where everyone is fully supported to contribute and develop within the organization. On the other side, it is necessary for the organization to adapt to the changing marketplace as diversity becomes more widely dispersed and the homogeneity declines. (Bingham; 2000)
(3) In terms of legal and ethical considerations Thirst Burst can be faced with a number of potential problems. One problem that Thirst Burst may face as a largely dominant white male workplace as diversity is integrated is ethnocentricity. Which causes majority group members to view their own group as the right and best group and to evaluate the majorities beliefs, behaviors and values as more positive and correct over those of minorities. Also under such factors the minority groups are more prone to place complaints and grievances that will take time and costs by the company to resolve and counteract the productivity within the company. Diversity can also produce cultural clashes and stereotyping among the different groups of workers.
A movement towards diversity may potentially polarize different social groups, harming productivity, while breeding cynicism and resentment. However if management can correctly correlate the different working cultures the result should be the enhancement of work relationships and work team effectiveness. However, the lack of effective diversity management may have diverse setbacks among diverse workgroups creating miscommunications, longer decision times, lower member morale and lower team cohesiveness, which will adversely reduce creativity, innovation, and problem solving.
Conflict also results more frequently among diverse groups than in homogenous groups and when conflict does arise, majority group members see an incident of racioethnic injustice as isolated, while minorities view the event as part of a pattern of oppression that is imbedded in the social system. (Wirth, 2001)
Problems that specifically effect Thirst Burst are its dominant white male workforce and the problems that entails in taken on a family based Asian company with a different ethical makeup. Also in its recruitment process it is not diversifying but rather recruiting from the same homogenous pool that already largely makes up the company. Also when promoting managerial staff the decisions were left to the managers that were already in place and research shows that majority parties are strongly tiered to promote sameness in the workplace.
Thirst Burst also must now face discrimination suits for being partial to certain groups and their religious and ethical beliefs. Largely trying to make an example of the woman wearing the Kara, she refused and pointed out that many other employees wore rings but these employees were not told to remove their jewelry and the women was transferred to the packaging department. This department is extremely cold and she was the employee required to work there for entire shifts. The result, the woman fell to illness and was signed off sick.
(4) The actions and approaches that Thirst Burst should make in context of equality and diversity are as follows. First Thirst Burst must define what is the point of view from both parties. This will allow for the identification of what particular behaviors are creating the conflict, how each party feels about the conflict, and what messages are being given.
Next Thirst Burst must be considerate of the cultural influences that are pressuring each party to act in a certain way. From this Thirst Burst must evaluate approaches that will enable the company to accommodate the set of values bestowed by each party and not be deterred by the set of values that are most present from the majority group. From this Thirst Burst must find a solution that benefits both parties. This can occur when the company recognizes and accepts each side’s cultural values and is willing to explore different sets of ideals that will benefit all parties within the company. (Bingham; 2000b.)
The goal of Thirst Burst must be to treat people as individuals and not paying attention solely to the differences among the groups. The problem with noting the differences is that largely the group in the minority is made to assimilate into the ideals of that of the majority with very few exceptions. A key factor to promoting diversity in the workforce is also to diversify upper management as well. Where tendencies hold to absorb new members and encourage them to adopt and adapt to the central culture of upper management. (Kandola, Fullerton; 1998b.) In all, Thirst Burst must value diversity by not trying to eliminate cultural differences, for example taking heed to the various religious holidays different groups are witness to. (Bingham; 2000c.) Diversity must play a role in the overall strategic business objective of Thirst Burst, where such a program can become lost in the mix if it is a separate strategy away from the core objectives of the company. Therefore, diversity goals must be linked to business goals and be a trait that is taken serious and not just matching the requirements of Affirmative Action and EEO programs.
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(5) “Managing Diversity” simply put means the effort and attention put forth by managers and other employees upon the diversity among the workforce and how each efficiently and effectively responds towards the challenges created by this diversity. There are key goals that any organization choosing to commit to the concept of managing diversity must adhere to. First, the workplace must contain an atmosphere that allows each individual can feel comfortable working effectively despite one’s cultural differences. Next, have an organization where each member can have a sense of personal achievement and are allowed to use their full potential to contribute towards the organization. Finally, making the most of the benefits of diversification including attracting the best available human talent, the penetration of more enhanced marketplaces and the workforce is better suited to serve a more diverse external clientele. Beyond that a diverse organization has a better understanding of the political, social, legal, economic and cultural environment of foreign countries. Internally, a diverse workforce displays higher levels of creativity and innovation as ‘creativity thrives on diversity’. Research has shown that organizations that diversify their workforce are more adept at problem solving. Lastly, these same organizations are much better suited at adapting to change and consequently handle more organizational flexibility. (Kirton, Greene; 2000)
In search of creating a work environment that best suits managers and employees as individuals a number of key pieces of legislation have been created in the UK over the last 35 years:
In 1970, the Equal Pay Act gave individuals a right to the same contractual pay and benefits as a person of the opposite sex in the same employment, where the work duties shared are the same.
In 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act prohibits sex discrimination against individuals in the areas of employment and education and in the disposal of management of premises.
The 1976 Race Relations Act made it unlawful to treat a person less favorably than another on racial grounds, covering the areas of race, color, nationality, and origin.
The 1995 Disability Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination against the disabled in areas of employment, the provision of goods, facilities, services and premises, education; and provides for regulations to improve access to public transport to be made.
In 1999 the Sex Discrimination Regulations became a measure to prevent discrimination against transsexual people on the grounds of sex in pay and treatment in employment and vocational training.
An amendment was made in 2000 to the Race Relations Act, outlawing discrimination and victimization in all public authority functions not previously covered by the Act.
Another amendment was made in 2003 to the 1976 Race Relations Act. The new regulations extend protection from discrimination on the grounds of race and ethnic or national origins. These apply in the fields of employment and training, social protection and social advantage, education, the provision of goods, facilities and services, and housing.
These pieces of legislature are vital to the success of organizational diversity as each plays a role in creating an element that values the individual and the individual’s values.
Thirst Burst is committed to surpassing all levels of diversity awareness by providing a workplace that cherishes the differences each individual provides. These differences will become the new image of Thirst Burst providing a workplace where many different people will be able to provide many different ideas, with idea follows innovation and with innovation comes the success of this organization. Our goals are to expand into a broader market with a more diverse clientele and to meet diversity with our own sophistication of diversity within our organization.
Thirst Burst will seek to accomplish this “Management of Diversity” through a number of various resources. Thirst Burst will place a great emphasis in HR to impartial recruiting, training and development, and performance appraisal. We will seek to create a more heterogeneous environment in race, ethnicity, and nationality. Establish accountability and measurement systems. Improve education, especially among management in valuing differences. Promote knowledge and acceptance of cultural differences and take advantage of the opportunities that management provides. Lastly, to creative a very positive mindset internally and externally about diversity. As Thirst Burst employees, know you comfort and achievement is our success! We look forward to a continually progressive relationship with each and every one of you on into the future!
- Kirton, G. and Greene, A-M. (2000) The Dynamics of Managing Diversity: a critical approach. Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann
- Kandola, A. and Fullertonj, J. (1998) Managing the Mosaic: Diversity in Action. 2nd Edition. London, Institute of Personnel and Development
- Bingham C (ed) (2000) Valuing Diversity Management Best Practice: No 78 The Industrial Society
- Hollinshead G., Nicholls P., Tailby S., (1999) Employee Relations, Financial Times, Pitman Publishing
- Wirth L., (2001) Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling: Women In Management. Geneva, International Labour Office