The Kroger Company refers to the discrimination-and-fairness paradigm that is not appropriate to promote the diversity vision and effective inclusion practices in the organization. However, the company aims to follow the principles characteristic for the access-and-legitimacy model. In this context, the current report provides the summary and analysis of the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion practices followed in the regional department of Kroger. The recommendations to improve the diversity and inclusion practices, the practical interventions, and the plan for the further development of the strategy are also presented in the report.
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Action Learning Project
Diversity and inclusion are currently discussed as important factors to contribute to the organization’s progress and competitive advantage. The Kroger Company is a leader in the American retailing industry that was founded in 1883, and it is important to analyze the effectiveness of its diversity and inclusion practices implemented regionally. The problem is in the fact that the corporate hiring and recruitment practices incorporate the ideas of diversity and inclusion partially, and they need revision. Thus, it is necessary to examine how the regional human resource managers try to integrate the diversity and inclusion principles in their practice to promote the collaboration in the Kroger Company.
Description of the Organization
The Kroger’s chain of grocery stores and supermarkets is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Currently, the whole chain includes more than 3,000 stores, and they are directed regionally (Kroger Company, 2013, p. 6). Therefore, the company is constantly hiring new employees to cover positions in different cities. There is no Chief of Diversity Officer post in the company, and these functions are performed by the human resource managers. There are 132 stores in the studied regional chain of Kroger supermarkets. The middle management in these stores is represented mostly by white people. Only seven African Americans take management positions, five individuals among them are females. Moreover, 95% of managers in the company have the Bachelor or higher degree. The company has not implemented specific policies for the management of diversity and inclusion in this region.
Diversity Needs Analysis
The process of the diversity needs analysis included six steps: determining the specific purpose of the needs analysis; selecting, preparing, and approving data collection methods; contacting managers and employees before conducting interviews; conducting interviews; analyzing and summarizing interviews and documents; and providing recommendations on improving the policy and practices. At the first stage, the purpose to examine and evaluate the current practices, as well as to formulate recommendations for improving them, was determined. The main data collection methods included the semi-structured face-to-face interviews based on the approved protocol with open-ended questions and the review of the documentation related to the diversity, inclusion, hiring, and recruitment procedures in Kroger (Dahm, Willems, Ivancevich, & Graves, 2009, p. 284). The focus was on collecting the following metrics: diversity percentage; percentage diversity at the executive level; percentage diversity at the management level; diversity hire ratio; average employee age; percentage females at the executive level; and total females at the management level.
During the third stage, the Kroger’s management team was contacted to plan the interviews that were conducted during the fourth stage. First, face-to-face interviews with Kathy Sims, Human Resource Manager in the regional Kroger’s department and Amanda Long, Human Resource Coordinator in the regional Kroger’s department, were planned. Then, the employees were interviewed. At the next stage, the recordings of interviews, documents, and provided metrics was reviewed with the purpose of identifying diversity and inclusion practices followed in Kroger (Brief, 2008). Finally, the analysis of the reviewed data was used in order to formulate the recommendations for the regional department of Kroger to address the identified weaknesses and gaps in realizing the diversity and inclusion principles and improve the diversity metrics.
Summary and Analysis of the Examined Information and Metrics
Two managers and eight employees working in the company’s regional department were asked regarding the diversity and inclusion practices followed in the company. It was found that employees regard diversity as the priority for developing management practices, but they can name only such practices as the provision of the equal opportunities for males and females to be recruited, equal opportunities for minorities to be recruited, and supplier diversity. The employees have accentuated such challenges as the lack of the diverse employees’ involvement in promoting the strategies in the organization. The managers have mentioned that they choose employees according to their skills and working experiences and in spite of their cultural or ethnical background. The age of a candidate is not regarded as a limiting aspect while selecting employees. However, there are no formal diversity training programs implemented in the company. The managers have pointed to such benefits of diversity as the possibility to meet the customers’ expectations.
Having analyzed the results, it is possible to state that the company does not follow human resource management practices that are traditionally discussed as the ‘best’ ones: diversity training, mentoring, and networking (Kalev, Dobbin, & Kelly, 2006, p. 590). The only followed practices are the cultural awareness through the informal communication, supplier diversity, and the provision of equal opportunities during the selection and recruitment stage. The analysis of the metrics indicates that the managers refer to some of the return on investment (ROI) measures to examine the effectiveness of the diversity management (Lockwood, 2010, p. 2). Thus, the diversity percentage in the company is 62%; the percentage of diversity at the executive level is 10%; the percentage of diversity at the management level is 10%; the diversity hire ratio is 48%; the average employee age is 29; the percentage females at the executive level is 8%; and total females at the management level is about 7%. These measures demonstrate that Kroger does not address the diversity and inclusion in the organization effectively.
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Summary of the Organization’s Diversity and Inclusion Goals
The review of hiring procedure protocols and documents mentioning diversity and inclusion statements indicates that the regional department of Kroger has no clearly identified goals associated with diversity and inclusion. According to the available resources, the leaders aim to improve the performance and productivity of the department, and it is possible with references to improving the communication with clients and increasing sustainability. The goals related to diversity are mentioned in the context of meeting the needs of all customers in spite of their backgrounds and in the context of developing working relations with diverse suppliers. Therefore, Kroger has no strategic or short-term goals associated with promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Still, one of the aims is to increase the number of diverse talents working in the company to address the customers’ expectations regarding the provided services. From this point, the diversity training and inclusion practices can be implemented only as the long-term goal, and the leaders of Kroger do not discuss these initiatives as the current priority for the development of human resource management practices.
Diversity Paradigms in the Kroger Company and Associated Strengths and Challenges
The analysis of the collected data demonstrates that management in Kroger tends to refer to the differentiation or access-and-legitimacy paradigm of diversity because of accentuating the role of recruiting diverse employees to address the needs of more customers. However, the fact is that the regional department of the company follows principles of the discrimination-and-fairness paradigm (Canas & Sondak, 2014, p. 15). Thus, the managers focus on the idea that all employees are equal; as a result, the cultural awareness sessions are limited, the diversity training is not proposed, and the main emphasis is on the recruitment of diverse employees with their further assimilation. The strengths of following this paradigm include the equal treatment of employees and the limited discrimination in the organization. However, the challenges associated with using diversity and inclusion practices within this paradigm are numerous. The managers in Kroger follow the color-blind approach, and cultures of diverse employees are often ignored. Approaching employees as equal in skills, demographic characteristics, cultures, and visions, the managers avoid using the diverse talents for developing the organization. As a result, employees feel that their differences are important only in situations when it is necessary to address different customers.
Recommendations for Kroger
Kroger has the limited number of diversity and inclusion goals, and they are associated with the increase of diverse talents working in the company to address the customers’ expectations. In order to meet these goals and contribute to the company’s complete shift to the access-and-legitimacy paradigm, it is possible to recommend certain actions. The first action is the formulation of the clear and narrow definition of diversity because now the company discusses diversity in broad terms, and managers and employees are inclined to confuse the ideas of diversity and equality (Davidson, 2011, p. 112). The second recommendation is associated with formulating the diversity statement as the part of the Kroger’s strategic plan. The third step is the change of assimilation recruitment practices with inclusive ones. The next important recommendation is the improvement of the cultural awareness practices with the focus on developing the diverse community based on the employees’ active interaction (Kreitz, 2008, p. 103). The final recommendation is to develop mentoring and networking programs for Kroger.
However, the level of resistance to diversity and inclusion programs in the company is high, and it is possible to address the obstacle while accentuating the employee participation in developing the new diversity policies and practices. It is important to take the employees’ opinions into account while implementing the proposed recommendations (Madera, 2013, p. 125). Moreover, the managers in the regional department need to be provided with adequate resources necessary for developing diversity programs and training.
The Design for Implementing Interventions to Support Kroger’s Goals
The first important intervention to implement in the organization is the cultural awareness program that is necessary to change the equal treatment strategy in the company with the differentiation approach (Madera, Neal, & Dawson, 2011, p. 471). The cultural awareness program should be implemented in the following steps: (1) the identification of the diversity and cultural profile typical for the regional department of Kroger; (2) the identification of ethnic, cultural, racial, and age groups in the organization with the goal of addressing their daily needs; (3) the celebration of cultural holidays; and (4) the participation of employees in the language proficiency courses. These steps are important for employees to feel like being valued in the organization.
The other intervention is the development of the mentoring program for Kroger. The percentage of diverse employees in Kroger is high, and the managers aim to increase these numbers focusing on the recruitment strategies. Therefore, it is important to propose the mentoring program for new employees who need the support to adapt to the new community (Curtis & Dreachslin, 2008, p. 108). The problem is in the fact that the leaders of the company do not plan to spend resources on programs, and it is possible to implement the initiative according to the following steps: (1) the peer coaching during a three-month period; (2) the informal training regarding leadership skills; and (3) the development of informal mentor and cultural networks.
Recommendations for Metrics to Measure the Effectiveness of Proposed Initiatives
To measure the effectiveness and the ROI associated with the implementation of the cultural awareness and mentoring programs in Kroger, it is possible to propose such metrics as the number of employees participating in these programs and the culture ratings used with the measured change in the employees’ performance and productivity. The number of the diverse employees who chose to participate in cultural awareness and mentoring programs is important to analyze the further effectiveness of these initiatives and their connection with the possible changes in the employees’ performance. Therefore, the next metrics is the culture ratings and the measured change in employees’ performance and productivity. These measures are important to demonstrate how the organizational climate can change in relation to the idea of inclusion.
The Plan for Completing Short-Term, Mid-Term, and Long-Term Steps
Although the short-term steps for Kroger include the improvement of recruitment and inclusion strategies based on increasing the cultural awareness and differentiation, the mid-term steps should include the organization of the diversity council based on the personal involvement of leaders in the promotion of diversity in Kroger (Stevens, Plaut, & Sanchez-Burks, 2008, p. 117). The long-term steps should be associated with the development of the formal diversity training and networking programs. If the short-term and mid-term steps are based on the currently followed paradigm, the long-term steps are possible when executives in Kroger are the main promoters of inclusion practices in the company and when the paradigm is shifted to the integration-and-learning one. Leaders in Kroger need to develop the specific vision of diversity as the value and spend more resources on training and supporting diverse employees.
At the current stage of the organization’s development in relation to diversity and inclusion issues, the managers in the regional department of Kroger are able to integrate only basic inclusive strategies. The problem is in the fact that the origin of the resistance to promoting diversity is from the executives and top managers. Therefore, the process of improving the diversity and inclusion programs in the organization should be gradual and oriented to changing the paradigm and the employees’ vision of the idea of diversity in the company. As a result, much attention should be paid to formulating the narrow definition of diversity, implementing the cultural awareness, and mentoring supportive programs for diverse employees.
Brief, A. P. (2008). Diversity at work. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Canas, K., & Sondak, H. (2014). Opportunities and challenges of workplace diversity (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Curtis, E. F., & Dreachslin, J. L. (2008). Integrative literature review: Diversity management interventions and organizational performance: A synthesis of current literature. Human Resource Development Review, 7(1), 107-134.
Dahm, M. J., Willems, E. P., Ivancevich, J. M. & Graves, D. E. (2009). Development of an organizational diversity needs analysis (ODNA) instrument. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39(2), 283-318.
Davidson, M. (2011). The end of diversity as we know it: Why diversity efforts fail and how leveraging diversity can succeed. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Kalev, A., Dobbin, F., & Kelly, E. (2006). Best practices or best guesses? Assessing the efficacy of corporate affirmative action and diversity policies. American Sociological Review, 7(4), 589-617.
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Kreitz, P. A. (2008). Best practices for managing organizational diversity. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(2), 101-120.
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