As we progress in the 21st century business-wise, human resources and capital management continue to take centre stage in the development of business strategies. Retaining and attracting people to the Multinational Corporations is increasingly becoming more and more of a priority today in all types of organization hence the need to understand diversity management properly. Research indicates that currently in the U.S, a very tight labour market has brought into sharp focus the issue of market intensity and leveraging human capital. Compounding the challenges of today where there are many jobs chasing fewer people in the U.S, the organizations are becoming more divergent and may try to seek more employees in the Diaspora. (Adler, 2002)
The increasing diversity in most organizations today can be attributed to several factors; first, there is a changing demographic structure in our countries due to modernization and technology advances. The demographic structure enables people from different parts of the world to come together in a specific location and live together. Secondly, the importance of globalization to companies to sustain their profits and long term survival. This entails the recruitment of employees from different parts of the world. We also find that changes within an organization on how work is done contribute to diversity within the organization. (Hollinshead, 2009)
British American Tobacco (BAT) Company is the second largest listed producer of tobacco products globally in the tobacco industry. BAT Company is said to be among the top market leaders in the tobacco industry. BAT Company is reported to be employing over fifty five thousand employees through which its annual revenue is estimated to be ₤9,762 million from each subsidiary. Research shows that this tobacco company is quite global in nature; it operates branches in Africa, Australia, Asia, Australia, Latin America, South America and the Middle East among other countries and its workforce is diverse and multicultural in nature. The company’s vision is to be the leader of the worldwide tobacco industry.
Challenges faced by BAT in managing its Human Resource
Challenges that are experienced by the BAT Company while trying to manage a diverse workforce in the tobacco industry are more than simply acknowledging the differences people have in their day to day activities. These behaviors and attitudes include; discrimination, punishment, stereotyping and prejudice especially when they are applied during hiring and promotions or even firing the employees from the organization they are considered not only inhuman but also not a good public image for the organization despite the fact that existence of diversity in the organization is appreciated throughout the diverse sectors ranging from government institutions, universities, non-governmental organizations, multinational firms, industries and other sectors that require a huge workforce, they are only viewed as human protection rights and legal compliance requirements. (Beardwell and Holden, 2001)
Diversity as a potential performance barrier-inefficient communication
Previous research has shown that the presence of a significant diverse force within an organization such as the BAT Company can lead to a reduction in productivity or some kind of redundancy. This has been attributed to the following reasons; the efficiency of communication is reduced within the BAT Company where a diverse workforce is available. The language barrier for example is a best example to describe this since it is difficult for people from all parts of the world to adopt the same language at the workplace. (Fernandez, 1991) Taking an example of an engineer who is very experienced, knowledgeable and hardworking but does not know the English language and in the same note, the engineer wants to work in the BAT Company subsidiary based in Southern America things will not only be difficult for the worker but also for the supervisor and the management of the organization. Although the engineer would do his or her duties well, the communication channel which is critical to how the organization is run will not be addressed fully. The short term implication of inefficient communication would be conflicts within the organization. (BAT 2009)
While trying to manage a diverse workforce, the management of the BAT Company has been experiencing difficulties arising from conflicts within the employees. People are naturally jealous or inclined towards people they consider their own. Therefore, employees within an organization such as the BAT Company are diverse in gender, race, education, religion or any other issue of diversity. This means that the employees are involved in many misunderstandings including the conflict of social disparity, religious conflict or any other form of discrimination. Conflicts are related to all forms of isolation or discrimination and that it is the main contributor to fights, poor performance and lack of cooperation among people in the organization.
Team work is useful for an organization in that, people are enabled to share their ideas or problems thereby providing workable solutions to issues. We understand that people are from different backgrounds and with varied skills tend to form a strong teamwork. On the other hand, they are more susceptible to workplace harassment which is bad for the organization (Fernandez, 1991).
Lack of social attraction
A diverse workforce will most likely be having problems of social attraction among the individuals in the organization. Social issues within the organization are important especially when it comes to building workable group work since lack of social interaction is very costly to the organization. In situations where the BAT Company wants to promote corporate social responsibility in the community, social interaction will be very important as the employees will be the ones to spearhead the activities. If these employees are so diverse that they can’t work together mainly because of their religion, language or gender, then it becomes difficult for the organization to meet its objectives. (Hollinshead, 2009)
During the diversity management process, it becomes difficult to recruit the best in the market the reason for this is that dealing with people of different backgrounds makes work difficult for the human resource officers especially the rigorous process of selection, interviewing or retaining potential employees in the organization. Sometimes, the BAT Company is not able to collect all the people from the different countries or races to come personally to get the necessary selection process. (BAT 2009)
High costs are usually incurred while trying to manage a diverse workforce in the BAT Company; the firm finds it very hard to deal with the needs of a diverse workforce. To solve issues arising as a result of differences in ethnicity, race or education, BAT Company needs the services of a company counselor in order to provide counseling services to the employees and dealing with such issues as conflicts requires the company to spend a lot of revenue to reconcile and bring people to a harmonious situation. (Briscoe and Schuler, 2004) The costs of dealing with persons from different locations or religious groups affect the organization in some way. Religious persons from various groups have different beliefs on certain issues required by their religious faiths. Some Protestants such as the Seventh Day Adventists may require that they be left out of duties during these days. Other people may want to be free on Sundays and so on. In the long run, the organization ends up losing lots of money in the process of giving every member of its organization an off day.
Multinational Companies such as the BAT Company which try to employ diversity tactics in order to fulfill certain targets in international markets may be in for a rude shock as their expectations may be too high. Individual expectation in an organization may also be unrealistic in that people would want to be associated with certain organizations just because of the perceived image either in the press or in the market place. Some persons from different regions may for example wish to join BAT Company as part of a strategy to meet their expectations in terms of technology and finances, but in the process, BAT may turn to be one of the companies which do not recognize individual differences as the main driving and harmonious force within the company. Finally, ones career development is partly fulfilled and people start seeking for further fulfillment elsewhere as a result of this the company experiences high workout rates in the form of resignations because people leave the company because of dissatisfaction. (Dowling, Festing and Engle, 2008)
Incidences of discrimination have led to increased number of legal suits against many multinational companies including the BAT Company. While trying to manage diversity, the issues most likely arise as a consequence of addressing the negative implications of diversity. Some companies in America have found the going getting tougher as a result of their diverse workforce. When the company tries to discriminate even against the disabled persons in their workforce, will find itself getting bad publicity and in the long run bad image. (Briscoe and Schuler, 2004)
Diversity management in the BAT Company is a reflection of how the changing world and market place will be in the future. Diversity enhances respect for individual differences within the organization and hence is able to create a competitive advantage in the organization. Diversity management in the BAT Company is able to benefit associates through the creation of a safe and fair environment for all. The paper above has described the challenges that are experienced while managing diversity in the organization. (Hollinshead, 2009)
Multinational companies such as the BAT Company must therefore undertake the first step to become more diverse in not only its employees but also towards policies, programs and work-life balance. There is no single recipe for success that must be desired from diversity so the main determinant that needs to be clearly understood is the basis of teamwork provided by the management of the organization. In doing so, the organization will be in a position to reap the benefits of diversity. (Dowling, Festing and Engle, 2008)
We can therefore conclude that diversity in the workplace involves a complex set of forces which influences the way the organizations operate in the current changing world. A diversified range of trends and issues is usually classified into four aspects which include; people, structure, technology and the environment in which the organization is operating on. People should work together in an organization such as the BAT to achieve their goals and objectives where by a certain structure is followed. Technology is also used to get the job well done; therefore there is interaction between people, structure, technology and the environment in which the organization is working on. People compose the social system of the organization whereby the system consists of individuals and groups. Groups are usually forceful thus bringing by a great change in the organization. Organizations usually exists to serve people not people to serve the organizations therefore people in an organization bring about a diverse range of talents, educational backgrounds and perspectives in what they do. This diverse trends and patterns brought about by people bring challenges in the organization where the managers should be ready and prepared to adapt and work with them. Structure is the formal setup of relationships in the organization which should be practised by managers and employees. Different jobs are usually carried out in an organization to achieve the objectives of the organization and all the parties involved should be related in a structural way so that they can effectively coordinate the activities of the organization. This structural way of relationship creates a simpler form of decision-making, negotiation and cooperation.
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