Bestfoods can only perform effectively through interactions with the broader external environment of which it is a part. The structure and function¬ing of the international organisation must reflect, therefore, the nature of the environment in which it is operating, including workforce diversity issues. In order to ensure its survival and future success Bestfoods must be readily adaptable to the external demands placed upon it using appropriate structure and support of its HR management team. In this case, Bestfood is responsive to change through workforce diversity management.
To operate internationally, Bestfoods has to provide diversity management in order to leverage differences between employees. 1. The key diversity challenges facing by the company include: – two-thirds of employees working outside the USA; – disproportionate number of women and minorities who leave Bestfoods; – gender inequalities (women can reach only middle management level); – women and minorities have less opportunities for career development than men (according to the survey); – high turnover level among women and minorities at every management level;
– attitudes and behaviour barrier for promotion; – few women at high positions. These challenges shows that Bestfoods has high diverse workforce that prevent the company to grow rapidly. Managing gender and racial differences should be the part of the management concerned with the maintenance of human relationships and ensuring the physical well being of employees so that they give the maximum contribution to efficient working 2. To overcome diversity problems, Laura Brody was appointed to develop and implement equal opportunity campaigns involving international divisions of the company.
She called her task as a “double edge sword” aimed to propose everyone equal opportunities for carrier development. The key actions helped this strategy to succeed include: – global action learning programs and an incremental change; – the first woman appointed as a country general manager; – the diverse board of directors consisted of two female, an African American CEOs and four males form other countries; – senior-management training programs; – long-term objectives of the company rather than compliance; – Diversity Advisory Council.
These key issues encompassed a strategic perspective of the company and were closely related to the management process as a whole demanding that each functional manager and supervisor apply the principles effectively. 3. In order to implement diversity programs, Bestfoods took several steps. (1) Brody changed the nature of Diversity Advisory Council implemented a team-building approach aimed to establish a common vision. If a team is to be successful and perform effectively there must be a spirit of unity and co-operation, which can be achieved through scheduling and decision-making.
As a part of this action, the Council developed a Balance Scorecard for diversity. (2) Examining and borrowing experience from leading companies about “leveraging workforcce” (p. 529) (outside practitioners, gathering best-practice and benchmarking studies). This step helped to avoid possible mistakes and faults. (3) A Cultural Connections program was implemented. It helps to reconcile the gap between what should happen, and desire-targets and standards of performance; and what is happening and levels of work performance.
It involved: educational programs, training, sexual harassment prevention training, motivation for further education, etc. (4) Forum initiative. 4. In general, the idea of a Forum was very effective helping to join employees, increase their confidence, motivation and commitment; provide recognition, enhanced responsibility, and promotion; give a feeling of personal satisfaction and achievement, and broader opportunities for career progression. The idea of Forum could help to improve organisational perfor¬mance as it increases the level of individual and organisational compe¬tence.
Nevertheless, the drawback of this policy was that Brody decided to involve only women as participants. Instead of a blend of competence, the Forum resulted in greater diversity within organization. (5) An alternative action to this program can be the International HR management Forum involving male and female employees, HR managers from different countries and the USA. This strategy would be more effectible in terms of overall company’s policy towards diversity management. This International HR Form would ensure human resources policy as an essential part for every manager and supervisor aware of diversity management.
It would develop an integrated approach for organisations to locate equality issues in their mainstream activities. (6) The main problems faced by Brody and Shoemate included negative attitudes of male employees and women excluded from discussions the diversity issues. In general, this approach broadened gander diversity, and created a negative image of females as executives. Many women were afraid that: “after attending an all-women forum might encourage others to think their success was owed primarily to their status as women rather to their competence” (p. 540).
The challenge was that the Forum forced some executives to rethink their attitude towards women’s potential and look objectively at their competence and professional skills. (7) Unfortunately, the Forum was negatively perceived by male employees. For some of them it was nothing more than “koffee-klatch” (p. 541) and discrimination on the gender basis. It is possible to treat this meeting as indirect discrimination depriving most employees from opportunities to be involved in problem-solving and strategic planning. This policy did not offend only male employees, but women who had not been invited.
Most women called it another “private club” party (p. 540). Brody and Shoemate did not develop a sense of people per¬ception, and did not understand the feelings of staff, their needs and expectations. (8) In any case, leadership played a crucial role helping to held female employees together and motivated them to give their best effort to the job. Communication strategies helped to provide satisfaction of members’ social needs, and a sense of personal identity and belonging to organization. Communication provided additional channels and means of motivation, for example, through status, social inter¬action.
Decision-making about the future strategy of the organization was made and implemented by employees. It was very important that employees were involved in this process. The unity of leadership, communication and decision-making created an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect between managers and employees. (9) Bestfoods and Brody can institutionalized the position of a diversity manager in every office around the world. This strategy will help to address not only women question, but to cover equal employment opportunities for all employees in spite of their gender, position in the company or racial/national differences.
The Forum should be based on an elective principle which means that every employee in the company has an equal opportunity to take part in it. The Forum can address different questions involving all employees of Bestfoods. This strategy will increase team effectiveness which depends upon different strategies including a spirit of unity and co-operation, which can be achieved through leveling of differences. In an opening letter to all CPC Employees, Shoemate underlined that the policy of the company is: “an ongoing process that affects everyone in the company. … we need to engage every person in this effort” (p. 546).
Nevertheless, the Forum did not present different groups of employees focused only on gender diversity question. To overcome this drawback, the Forum can create separate working teams examining gender diversity, minorities’ rights, equal opportunities and equal pay issues. Recognising that men and women present different cultures at work, as well as different ethnic groups, and that this diversity needs to be managed, is key to promoting a positive environment of equal opportunity, which goes beyond merely fulfilling the demands of the statutory codes. References 1. Case Study: Bestfoods.
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