Thedefinition of diversity was not always this extensive.
In former times,diversity was defined in terms of gender, lifestyle, race, disability and ageby companies. Nowadays, there is a more inclusive definition of diversity usedby companies. This definitionincludes various terms such as the position in a company, the language a personspeaks or the income between employees.1 Theimplementation of diversity management means the creation of working conditionsunder which all employees can develop and unfold their capabilities, regardlessof their personal characteristics. Demand for diversity management is mainlydue to increasing globalization, new forms of organization, increasing costpressures and demographic trends. Thus, companies are challenged to deal withdiversity from the outside through a diversity from the inside, in order toremain competitive.
2 Bycreating a fair and safe environment where every associate has admission tochallenges and prospects, associates profit from diversity management. Toeducate employees about diversity and its subjects, comprising regulations andlaws, management tools should be used in a diverse workforce. Organizationsneed to learn to adapt to succeed, as most jobs are made up of differentcultures.3 1 Main BodyInthis chapter a case dealing with the difficulties of diversity in the workplacewill be discussed and solved. 1.1 Case studyDraperManufacturing is an American small mattress manufacturer based in Portland,Oregon.
The chief executive officer of the company is Ralph Draper, who recentlytook over the family-owned company from his father. Draper Manufacturingemploys 90 people fulltime, most of them come from Mexico, China and in theshipping department nearly all employees are African American. Recently acrisis has arisen because of festering racial tensions. 1.2 ProblemsDraperManufacturing finds itself in a crisis as a direct result of the increase inthe price of oil to more than $100 per barrel last summer. For various mattresscomponents, from polyester and thread to foam petroleum is a crucial rawmaterial.
Furthermore, there was a bottleneck of TDI, a key component in theproduction of polyurethane foam caused by the Gulf hurricanes. Until now, thecompany had passed its cost increases on to the end customer. However, due tothe increased competition of low-priced imports from Asia this strategy willnot last much longer. The company must reduce costs and increase productivityin order to survive in the mattress manufacturing. Draper’s determination tokeep labour costs low is reflected in the present labour force. As describedabove the employees are mainly from Hispanic, Asian and African American culture.
Within the company, these three cultures are also divided into differentdepartments. Consequently, the Chinese often work as mechanics and machineoperators, the African Americans are almost all young men who work in theshipping department and the Hispanics are often women who work part-time. Thismix of cultures results in a diverse but polarized workforce. Actually, it istime for everyone to work together, but the workers rarely mix with othercultures and often just stay within their culture, moreover, most Mexicansspeak mostly Spanish.4 1.3 FindingsInorder to resolve the current crisis and deal with the underlying problems thecompany conducted a cultural audit, which should assess Drapers’ diversityissues.
The CulturalAudit revealed that there are some cultural differences. In particular, it wasnoted that the personal characteristics between the three cultures are different,especially the Chinese are very shy and Mexicans and African Americans are verytalkative. In addition, all three cultures have a completely different way oflife and their knowledge differs depending on their origin.
Inaddition, it has been found that low-paid workers mostly do not come fromAmerica, but the higher the position, the more Americans are to be found. Thiscan also be clearly seen in the manager positions, as there is only onenon-white manager. Due to this unequal distribution and also by stereotyping ofsome managers, the employees often do not feel treated fairly and because ofthis they stay within their cultural group.
Furthermore,immense communication problems have been uncovered. This is partly because somedo not speak English so well and, in addition, the diversity of cultures oftenleads to a misinterpretation of body language 2 Recommendations Firstly, an urgentpriority for Draper Manufacturing is to arrange a meeting with three times 30employees. The issue of this event is a diversity training. In this trainingemployees should learn the importance of diversity and them should be taughtthe key communication skills of a diverse workplace.
The seating arrangementsof this meeting would look like a Hispanic, a Chinese, an African American andso on. This seating arrangement prevents repeated group formatting. In order to avoid thiskind of diversity problems in the future, the company must implement anincentive system. This incentive system should be based on a bonus foremployees who want to achieve a better commitment within the company.
Thisachievement could for example be to attend an English course, to participateactively in a regulars’ table or to participate in one of the sport teams. Afterwards the companyshould organize a company event where all employees are invited and also theirfamily members can come. At this event the employees should be able to get toknow each other, in order to have a good conversation a good atmosphere isprovided. Therefore, music from different cultures will be played and foodspecialties from the different nations will be served. Finally, it is recommendedthat Draper Manufacturing should determine English as its corporate language. Inorder to strengthen this measure, it is necessary to arrange an English coursefor employees who have problems with the English language.
In addition, therewill be a warning to employees who speak in their native language. If it onlyhappens once someone is warned, nothing else happens, but if there is arepeated warning to an employee, he must attend the English course.1 cf. Daft (2010), pp. 346-347.
2 cf. Elmerich et all (2007), p. 21.3 cf.
Green et all (2002), p. 3.4 Daft (2010), p. 367.