Best Foods Company is a multinational worldwide food company whose vision is “To be the Best International Food Company in the World.” (p.713) Best Foods set out to make some serious strides in diversifying their organization. However, there were three key diversity challenges facing them. First is that the company has very few women who have been on the career path that leads them to executive level position. This unfortunately was due to past practices. Best Foods top 150 senior managers were mostly made up of older males predominately white. At the time that Best Foods sought to change there was only one women and she was a general manager. With the lack of skill level and job experience one of the first steps will be to educate so the company will be able to increase their number of women in executive positions.
The second challenge they faced is that Best Foods is a global company that has operations in 60 countries and sells in 110 countries. It has chosen to use a decentralized management structure which itself presents its own issues. The managers at Best Foods live and work in countries with very distinctive cultural beliefs and what role women play in their society. This forces the need for headquarters to learn and understand that each manager will have different attitudes about women in the workplace. If they take the necessary steps and acknowledge these differences, then the company can move forward and realistically expect acceptance of the diversity program. This will enable management to keep focus on what can change now, and what will take more time.
The third challenge is with the main headquarters located in the United States, the team working on the diversity program will need to maintain a global outlook as they proceed. More than half of their employees reside outside the United States, and with sixty percent of the company’s revenues comes from its global markets. It is forecasted that future growth will come from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and countries from the former Soviet Union.
In almost a ten year period of time Best Foods took several steps to making their diversity initiative a huge success. The first step was simply just recognizing that there was a need for the initiative and in 1989 a diversity function was created and its sole focus was on Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO). Then sometime prior to 1995 the company established a Diversity Advisory Council (DAC). The CEO specifically engaged himself and 14 senior executives from the United States to come together and agree on diversity training for all US senior managers. Shortly after forming the DAC they hired Brody as the Director of Diversity and Development. Brody worked closely with the DAC to create a vision and definition for the diversity program.
In 1997 Brody conducted a benchmarking and best-practice study. From this study the DAC determined that diversity was and needed to be an important factor in the company’s competitive strategy. From there they implemented an annual employee survey and global analysis of females within the company and on the board of directors. This assisted them in identifying diversity problems of females in or training for executive level positions. The survey also identified generational issues between younger and older employees. Next Brody implemented Cultural Connections and Sponsoring our Success which provided diversity awareness and educated all the employees in the United States. To top off a year of successful strides in diversity the CEO sends a letter to all employees who elevated the issue of diversity not only in the United States but all divisions in all locations. Diversity is positioned as an important strategic initiative that will make the company more competitive. Shoemate made it a point to include diversity in the Balance Scorecard. This made each division accountable.
In 1998 the...