4 Meeting the Challenges of Diversity

4 Meeting the Challenges of Diversity - Daft Ch13.qxp 8:55...

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It started in July 2001 when seven women filed suit in a California court charging that Wal-Mart systematically denies women equal pay and opportunities for promotion. It could balloon into the largest gender discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history and cost the giant cor- poration hundreds of millions of dollars. The women have already won a major battle when the courts required Wal-Mart to turn over workforce data from 3,400 U.S. stores, information that the com- pany had previously closely guarded. Although Wal-Mart is vigor- ously denying discriminatory practices, one analysis of the data indicates that between the years of 1996 and 2001, women at Wal- Mart earned from 5 to 15 percent less than men performing the same job, even though women typically received higher performance eval- uations. Another study reports that women employees wait much longer than men for their first promotion at Wal-Mart. In 1999, Wal- Mart had a lower percentage of female managers than its retail coun- terparts had in 1975. Lawyers are arguing that the patterns reflect discriminatory attitudes embedded in the famous Wal-Mart culture that call for strict penalties and serious reform. 1 If you were a top manager at Wal-Mart, what steps would you take to solve this problem? What changes can make Wal-Mart a company where all employees feel valued, respected, and supported? Take A Moment Manager’s Challenge Daft Ch13.qxp 10/25/2004 8:55 AM Page 465
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466 PART 4 Organizing Wal-Mart is not the only company that has faced difficulties with issues of diversity. In recent years, high-profile racial discrimination or harassment lawsuits have been filed against Texaco, Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola, and Boeing. Mitsubishi is still reeling from the effects of a sexual harassment lawsuit charging that managers ignored complaints that women were regularly groped on the factory floor and made to endure crude jokes and lewd photographs. 2 Diversity in the population, the workforce, and the marketplace is a fact of life no manager can afford to ignore. In addition, diversity issues are growing more com- plex than they were 30 years ago. Among the groups now seeking full inclusion in the workforce are many not even considered back then, including the disabled, the obese, and non-heterosexuals. Managing diversity today entails recruiting, training, valuing, and maximizing the potential of people who reflect the broad spectrum of society in all areas—gender, race, age, disability, ethnicity, religion, sexual orienta- tion, education, and economic level. Many companies, including IBM, Pfizer, Allstate Insurance, and Ford Motor Company, are finding innovative ways to integrate diversity initiatives into their business. These initiatives teach current employees to value differences, direct corpo- rate recruiting efforts, influence supplier decisions, and provide development train- ing for women and minorities. Smart managers value diversity and enforce the value in day-to-day decision making. Today’s companies reflect the U.S. image as a melting pot, but with a difference.
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4 Meeting the Challenges of Diversity - Daft Ch13.qxp 8:55...

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