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Analysis of Diversity Strategies in Companies: Case Study of H&M, Papa John’s, and Starbucks

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Diversity in H&M

In January 2018, H&M photographed a young black boy by the name of Liam Mango wearing a green sweatshirt with the words “coolest money in the jungle” written across the front in their ad. When this ad was published to their website to be sold, many individuals were outraged and took to social media for the picture to be removed as it was viewed as racist. When this controversial ad hit the internet, some people could not understand how or why the image was viewed as racist. European cultures have compared black or dark humans to apes and monkey for centuries and it is degrading as they are not an animal. H&M began trending on twitter for being racist and celebrities such as the Lebron James, Diddy, The Weekend and G-Eazy cut ties with the company for even publishing the photo.

The parent of the young black boy shown in the ad received a call from a representative (Justine) at H&M apologizing and informed Liam’s mother (Terry) there was an upsetting image of Liam circulating the internet. Justine told Terry, if they needed anything whether it be somewhere to go, someone to talk to, etc. to just let them know how H&M could be of assistance. The parents of Liam stated they didn’t believe the ad was racist. Terry, went on to comment “Am the mum and this is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modeled…….stop crying Wolf all the time, unnecessary issue here……..get over it, I’m just looking at Liam, a Black, young boy, modeling a T-shirt that has a monkey on it.” (Wang,Connie, 2019).

Although H&M apologized, petitions were started like wildfires for global boycotts. H&M’s newly opened store in South Africa was broken into and vandalized by protestors. Millions of people all around the world were shocked that such an ad was even published. People felt white companies still viewed Black consumers as an ugly stereotype and degrading. H&M quickly removed the ad from its online page and instantly went to social media to apologize. The sweatshirt sold in stores were also removed off the floor. H&M has since hired a diversity leader and we have not seen controversial photographs, ads, or posting from the company which is great.

It is detrimental for a company to have a better representation of all racial groups sitting at the table making decisions together. Insight can be given as to how the audience may perceive their product whether in a positive or negative light. For us to move past discrimination, we must understand one another’s viewpoint. In this case, H&M has lost several customers but has also gained customers because they showed they took the situation at hand seriously. They apologized to the family involved, apologized publicly to the customers, took down the ad and hired on a diversity leader to prevent any future incidents.

I believe it is important that CEO and executives take on partial responsibility of the problem and immediately find ways to fix the problem or issue. In this scenario, H&M apologized for the misunderstanding behind the ad and immediately removed the ad. They assigned their a representative to reach out to the model (Liam) mother (Terry) to apologize for the controversial image and offered their assistance in any way possible. H&M also went on to hire a diversity leader that way they avoid incidents as such to occur again.

Papa John’s founder in hot water

Papa John’s is an American pizza restaurant franchise founded in 1984 by “Papa” John Schnatter whom started in his father broom closet tavern in Jeffersonville, IN. Papa John’s has over 5,199 establishments, about 4,456 franchised restaurants operating domestically in all 50 states and in 44 countries. Papa John’s is the brand most associated with the NFL. They were awarded Business of the Year by Business First in 2013. In 2017, they were ranked number one in customer satisfaction among QSR-pizza brands American Customer Satisfaction Indec (ACSI) for the 16th time in the last 18 years. Their catch phrase is known for “Better Ingredients + Better People= Better Pizza.”

In May of 2018, founder and chairman “Papa” John Schnatter stepped down after he apologized for using racial slur about African Americans. A conference call took place between Papa John’s executives and the marketing agency Laundry Service. During the call, John Schnatter the founder of Papa John’s is said to have stated, “Colonel Sanders called blacks n******,” regarding the NFL protests, led by African American players by taking a knee to draw attention to police brutality. (Neuman, Scott 2018). On Wednesday, John Schnatter resigned as chairman of the company’s board and also resigned from the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees after the local branch of the NAACP called on him to be removed.

John Schnatter went on to apologize stating “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.” Unfortunately, Papa John’s shares fell about 5 percent. Major League Baseball went on to suspend a leaguewide promotion that it had with the company to allow fans to get discounts on pizzas after players hit grand slams. (Rosenberg, Eli 2018). Some teams, such as the Florida Marlins, suspended individual partnerships they had with the brand. Just like H&M, Papa John’s went on to hire a public relations agency to help Papa John’s from the fall out.

Starbucks CEO takes the high road

Starbucks is an American coffee company and coffeehouse chain, founded by three partners Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker in Seattle, Washington in 1971. The founders came up with the name Starbucks from the chief mate in the book Moby-Dick. Today, the CEO of Starbucks is Kevin Johnson. The company operates over 30,000 locations worldwide and employs about 291,000 employees worldwide. (Retrieved from Starbucks website, https://www.starbucks.com/about-us/company-information). The brand is so well-known that the company does not put its name on the cups. Their logo does all the work for them. Starbucks is also known to believe in diversity in their company. CEO Kevin Johnson stated, “Our Mission and Values at Starbucks reflect the fundamental principle that everyone is welcome. We aspire to be a place of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. Diversity makes us stronger, and the creation of a deeply inclusive culture allows us to succeed and grow together.” (Retrieved from Starbucks website, https://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/community/diversity-and-inclusion).

Well, if Starbucks is so diverse, why I am bringing up this popular coffee shop? On April 12th, 2018, two young black African Americans, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, were waiting for a friend to begin their business meeting at a Philadelphia Starbucks when a manager at Starbucks called the police on them after not ordering anything. These two young men were arrested and taken out in handcuffs. Consumers around took out their phones and recorded what was happening and that video went viral throughout different social media platforms. It had become the latest example of people of color being arrested in America.

So, what did Starbucks do after the arrest? CEO Kevin Johnson personally delivered a video hat was posted on the official Starbucks website apologizing for the arrest. Mr. Johnson stated he is accountable for the incident and the two gentlemen did not deserve what happened. He goes on to say he will do everything he can to ensure it is fixed and never happens again. Whether it is making changes to the policy, in the practice, additional store manager training, including training around unconscious bias, and they will address all. He did not believe that the store manager who made the call to the police should be fired. Mr. Johnson felt the blame was misplaced and should focus on fixing the issue. He stated it is a management issue, and he is accountable to ensure they address the policy and the practice and the training that led to that outcome.

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On Tuesday, May 29, 2018, Starbucks closed all its stores for employees to undergo a racial-bias training. The racial-bias training consisted of employees gathering to watch dozen of videos featuring the rapper Common, Stanley Nelson documentary filmmaker of “the different things people of color go through just by leaving the house day by day,” and Starbucks executives. (Calfas, Jennifer, 2018). The employees also participated in a wide-range or discussions regarding race and identity with their colleagues. Starbucks encouraged some employees to write their feelings in journals that were provided to them. (Rose, Joel 2018).

Starbucks executives made a great attempt at apologizing for the incident that occurred and took the initiative to bring the discussion to the table. However, the root of the problem will not end just because some videos and journals were provided to the employees. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson did go onto say they will continue to implement the change and bring awareness with videos being a part of training for employees. It is very well shown to the public that Starbucks took the matter seriously and made sure to take steps to move into the right direction. When going onto Starbucks website there is a page dedicated to their diversity acceptance within their organization which is beautiful to see.

I believe thus far; Starbucks has proven they believe in truly being diverse within their organization. Many companies out there have gone under scrutiny for not being diverse or discriminating towards certain races, disabilities, gender, etc. and have not lifted a finger to change their ways nor gone out their way to change the culture in their workplace. But I feel Starbucks is on the right track to improving and accepting diversity and rejecting discrimination. It says a lot about their company that they took steps to avoid situations from happening in the future and bring awareness to all of their employees.

Starbucks has reached their goal in achieving 100% pay equity for women and men and people of all races performing similar work in the United states. 46% of their U.S. partners are people of color. 33% of their vice presidents are people of color and of their senior leader, 15% are people of color. 68% of their U.S. partners (employees) are women. Of those vice presidents, 50% are women. Starbucks aspires to bring awareness and change to their company. (Retrieved from https://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/community/diversity-and-inclusion/aspirations)

After reading these cases, I sit here asking myself, how do we reduce or end all discrimination in the workplace? How can we make a workplace more inviting to all regardless of skin color, disability, or even gender? There are many ways. Beginning at home. Evaluate ourselves and correct our flaws. Then evaluate and correct how you are raising your kids because one day they will grow up to be adults going into the workforce carrying on what they have been taught. We as a society have to stand up against discrimination in the workplace and make it known when it happens. We can no longer be afraid to speak up when these incidents happen. As the late Michael Jackson stated in his Man in the mirror song, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.” (Jackson, Michael 1987).

In order for us as a society to move past discrimination we must first work to reduce it in the workplace. An average person spends about eight hours a day at work five days a week. Their workplace should be a safe environment. In order to get there, the company must implement certain criteria. In the journal “How to reduce Discrimination in the workplace: The case of Austria and Taiwan (R.O.C.),” it states a qualitative study was conducted and showed that education, active positioning of companies, leadership and diligent selection of employees, discussion and analysis, psychological support, governmental policies, and aspects of language and talking gender-wise are important steps to reducing or eliminating discrimination in the workplace. (Maček Anita, Horvat Tatjana, Bradler Sarah, Bobek Vito 2018).

It is important that we are not naïve to the fact that people must be educated about discrimination. Employers should implicate this a part of the onboarding process when hiring an employee for the new job. This course should also be made available to employees of the company every year as a refresher. Encourage their employee’s discrimination will not be tolerated and be realistic that employees will not always agree with each other, but they should always respect each other’s differences. Employees should take responsibility to be proactive and report incidents of harassing behavior or discriminatory or inappropriate behavior and those issues should be handed accordingly.

Supervisors and managers should also be in on the training and should know how to respond to discrimination in the workplace. They should be able to be discreet when an incident happens and take the situation at hand serious. They should also be taught properly how to deal with complaints of discrimination promptly. Supervisors and manager should know if they emphasize higher-order goals and values in their leadership style are more effective in managing diverse teams. There are many steps supervisors and managers can take to ensure they are being fair across the board.

Understanding their organization antidiscrimination policies thoroughly is one and sharing them with their employees. Full evaluate what accommodations a person with disability will need and fine-tune the job to that person’s abilities. They should also seek to understand and respect the unique biographical characteristics of each individual to get the best performance out of that employee. Also, always challenge and asses their own stereotype beliefs to increase their objectivity. (Robbins Stephen P., Judge, Timothy A., 2018). These are only a few examples, but they would lead to a better work environment for the team.

There are cases where an employee has brought up a situation to higher management and was dismissed because higher management did not believe it deserved the time of day. Human resources in many companies has made it clear to their employees they could voice their concerns without being reprimanded. Unfortunately, there are cases out there that will never be brought to light because the victim is afraid. Employers need to make it clear to everyone in their company they will respect cultural and racial differences in the workplace. All employees should familiarize themselves with the company’s policies in place towards discrimination.

Discrimination in the workplace can and most of the time leads to a high turnover rate for the company. So, employers should implement policies to avoid discrimination that way it does not cost them in the end. An individual from a minority group is less likely to leave an organization if they feel included which is known as positive diversity climate. In our book, “Essentials of Organization Behavior,” it states one method of enhancing workforce diversity is to target recruitment messages to specific demographic groups that are underrepresented in the workforce. People are generally in favor of diversity-oriented programs, to increase the representation of minority groups and ensure everyone a fair opportunity to show their skills and abilities.

I strongly believe we are on the right path to ending discrimination in the workplace. I do not agree with how Papa John’s handled their discrimination incident. Yes, the CEO of the company resigned from his position and gave a public apology. The company also hired a public relations agent to clean up the mess, but nothing was really done for the employees to have more insight on how to change their mind frames and bring light to the topic at hand. I love the way Starbucks handed their incident. The CEO gave a public apology, the manager willingly left the position, a whole training was given to all employees and a discussion was allowed to be had. Do I believe there is more that could have been done? Yes. But it is a step in the right direction, and they should be an example to all companies out there.

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Analysis of Diversity Strategies in Companies: Case Study of H&M, Papa John’s, and Starbucks. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/analysis-of-diversity-strategies-in-companies-case-study-of-hm-papa-johns-and-starbucks/
“Analysis of Diversity Strategies in Companies: Case Study of H&M, Papa John’s, and Starbucks.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/analysis-of-diversity-strategies-in-companies-case-study-of-hm-papa-johns-and-starbucks/
Analysis of Diversity Strategies in Companies: Case Study of H&M, Papa John’s, and Starbucks. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/analysis-of-diversity-strategies-in-companies-case-study-of-hm-papa-johns-and-starbucks/> [Accessed 31 Jan. 2023].
Analysis of Diversity Strategies in Companies: Case Study of H&M, Papa John’s, and Starbucks [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 14 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/analysis-of-diversity-strategies-in-companies-case-study-of-hm-papa-johns-and-starbucks/
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