Diversity is primarily a human resource issue.
The practices that have been used by Bestfoods to date have not been effective. In order for minorities or women to be hired, they must be interviewed. “The candidate who performs poorly in the employment interview is likely to be cut from the applicant pool, regardless of his or her experience, test scores, or letters of recommendation” (Robbins, p. 518). The hiring process at Bestfoods most likely included an interview.
Many times, the person who is qualified for the position is not hired but the person who is good at managing the impression that they make is successful in being hired.There are numerous women and minorities who could be hired by Bestfoods but they may not be able to promote themselves well. The managers, who often conduct the interviews, may also use their personal bias against a certain race or sex of person as a reason to not hire an applicant. The company is also hiring individuals who will fit into the corporate culture where white men are more likely to climb up the management ladder. This relates to the person-organization fit of the applicant. If the person is a woman or a minority and wants to climb up the management latter and thinks that they have a chance, this person may not be hired.The culture is intangible yet in the interview process, its strength may be apparent if discrimination occurs. The values of the employees were lacking at Bestfoods.
While many employees receive formal ethics training, there can be a lack of values in employees. This all depends on the perspective taken. For the older men in management, they had worked through decades where the role of women and minorities in the workplace had changed. Many of their value systems were fixed at an early age. This made it difficult for them to see diversity as a positive topic within the organization.
Women and minorities were not promoted throughout Bestfoods as people are in other organizations. Women and minorities saw their performance less linked to their rewards (Buller et al. , p. 72). Often times, rewards are based off of performance evaluations.
These people may have had an unfair performance evaluation. If the performance evaluation is subjective, many evaluators could take advantage of this situation and rate minorities and women as having not performed as well as they should.Only 15 percent of women had been rated as having high potential within the organization. This, like the interview can be based on biases. Managers in power could use this opportunity to play politics and affect the ability for women or minorities to get promoted.
As the diversity definition for Bestfoods should be broad, it includes managing work/life conflicts. A Harvard study found that 82 percent of workers between the ages of 20 and 39 said that working for a “family-friendly” organization was their most important job criterion (Robbins, p. 537).As previously mentioned, this contrasts the culture at Bestfoods where the workers were often judged on how much time they spend at the office and where senior men did not recognize the need for women to pick up their children from activities.
Organizational Change and Stress Management The Bestfoods case incorporates several forces for change. The changing nature of the workforce had proven to be the most crucial force for change to the company. “Almost every organization is having to adjust to a multicultural environment” (Robbins, p. 549). Best Foods was no exception.With more women and minorities entering the workforce and demonstrating equal talent in the business world compared to their white male counterparts, diversity in the workplace is a reality that cannot be shaken.
Best Foods recognized this reality and took small steps to diversify their workforce. Another force of change that Best Foods was facing was competition. Bestfoods faced global competition and increased discount brand competition. Shoemate said, “Successful organizations will be the ones that can change in response to the competition” (Robbins, p. 550).
Shoemate recognized these forces for change and asked Brody to address them. In managing this upcoming change, it is helpful to distinguish this as planned change. In other words, Shoemate had brought on this change intentionally and with a goal-oriented plan.
By creating a more diversified workforce, he seeked to improve the ability of the organization to adapt to changes in the environment and to changes in employee behavior. It is also helpful to distinguish Brody as the change agent in this case. Brody, rather than the CEO, is the person who acted as the catalyst and assumed the responsibility for managing the change activities.Brody was also considered an internal change agent because she actually worked for Bestfoods and was not brought in as an external consultant. Brody, like other internal change agents, acted more thoughtfully because she had to live with the consequences of her decisions. When bringing about such drastic change in an organization, Brody must realize that organizations and its members resist change.
“It is one of the most well-documented findings from studies of individual and organizational behavior” (Robbins, p. 551).Resistance provides a degree of stability and predictability to behavior and can be a source of functional conflict (Robbins, p.
551). Sources of resistance to change in individuals can be categorized by habit, security, economic factors, fear of the unknown, and selective information processing (Robbins, p. 552). Sources of resistance to change in organizations include structural inertia, limited focus of change, group inertia, threats to expertise, threats to established power relationships, and threat to the established resource allocations (Robbins, p. 552).Brody had to come up with ways to turn anticipated resistance into a positive gain for the organization if she wanted the change to be effective. The ways to overcome resistance to change are in many forms. Brody had incorporated some of these tactics already.
She put on a Women’s Forum to offer solutions to management on how improve the diversity of integrate women and minorities in Bestfoods, as well as explain the plan Brody had made. This tactic assumed that there was misinformation. Brody’s intentions were to let the “high potential” women at Bestfoods attend the forum.In this forum, one-on-one discussions, presentations, and reports helped to educate and to communicate with the women of Bestfoods and lessened their resistance to change. Although Brody did things to start changing diversity at Bestfoods, she hadn’t been successful yet because she hadn’t been thorough. According to Lewin’s Three Step Model, Brody had not unfroze, moved, or refroze her change efforts.
The first step of this model involves taking into account driving forces and restraining forces.Brody observed some of these such as senior management attitudes towards high-level women. However, Brody had not made any change efforts to overcome the pressures of both individual resistance and group conformity, which was the definition of unfreezing. Brody had yet to move or refreeze, which stabilizes a change intervention by balancing driving and restraining forces. In preliminary actions, Brody did use organizational development to gather information about the situation.
She used survey feedback to find perceptions and important issues that pertain to the women of Bestfoods.The survey revealed the following key points. Although women and men agreed on most of the barriers perceived to be inhibiting women’s career advancement (women’s lack of mobility for international assignments and lack of both general management and line experience), the women reported a number of barriers that appear to have been invisible to men; senior men’s discomfort with ambitious women; senior men’s negative stereotyping and preconceptions of women; and senior men’s difficulty in reporting to women (Buller, et.al.
, p. 78) While women and men agreed on the three most important strategies for women’s career success at Bestfoods (consistently exceeding performance expectations, gaining line management experience, and seeking difficult and high visibility assignments), they disagreed on other key strategies. The majority of women believed that they had to “develop a style that men are comfortable with” in order to succeed, whereas men ranked this strategy next to last in terms of importance.Women were more likely than men to believe they had to develop a relationship with an influential mentor in order to succeed. More men than women stressed the importance of gaining international experience. None of the men stated that they would consider changing companies to get ahead while 14 percent of the women stated that they would consider leaving Bestfoods for another company (Buller et. al.
, p. 78).Men and women agreed on the five most important corporate strategies that would benefit women (more assignments managing people; include more women on divisional and global strategic task forces; include more women in the Senior Management Development Program; hold managers more accountable for identifying, developing, and advancing high potential women; and include a higher percentage of women in succession plans).
However, women placed greater importance on each of these corporate strategies than did their male colleagues.It was noteworthy that both women and men perceived the barriers facing women to be greater than the reality of what women actually experience. For example, while some men hold stereotypical assumptions about women in general, they reported that these assumptions usually disappeared when they actually worked with or for a women manager. However, the specific women they knew and worked with were typically viewed as “exceptions” to the rule (Buller et. al. , p.
78). Contemporary Change IssuesAs with many large and profitable companies, Bestfoods was facing contemporary change issues with their senior management, employees, and their organization as a whole. Through the case it is apparent that at least three of the four main contemporary change issues were present.
First, managers were being faced with the question of what they could do to help the organization to become more innovative. Bestfoods was stuck using their older procedures and didn’t have a lot of women or minorities in significant positions.Shoemate recognized this and what was needed to solve it. On the human resources level, many problems arose due to Bestfoods lack of innovation. By becoming more innovative Bestfoods as an organization should actively be promoting the “training and development of their members so that they keep current, offer high job security so employees don’t fear getting fired for making mistakes, and encourage individuals to become champions of change” (Robbins, p. 565).
By champions of change it implies that the individuals whether they be senior management or others would become “idea champions. ” This means that once a new idea is developed, they “actively and enthusiastically promote the new idea, build support, overcome resistance, and ensure that the innovation is implemented” (Robbins, p. 565). In this sense Shoemate was viewed as an idea creator because it was his idea to increase the number of women in leadership positions, but it was Brody who was the idea champion because she took the idea and really started working on making change.Brody displayed the characteristics of being a transformational leader; she inspired and energized others with her vision of potential for innovation, and had a personnel conviction towards her mission (Robbins, p. 565). However, she had some troubles with gaining the commitment and support of others, primarily the men in the organization.