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Managing Diversity at Cityside Financial Services

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
2685 1456 Words (6 Pages) Robin J. Ely, Ingrid Vargas Harvard Business School : 405047
This solution includes: A Word File A Word File

The recent history of Spencer Owens demonstrated the considerable effort made into diversifying its staff. Spencer Owens & Co. launched a plan to diversify the company's workforce from entry-level to senior levels in the middle of the 1980s. The staff at Spencer Owens were encouraged to be "colorblind" to inequalities in gender and ethnicity as part of the company's commitment to justice and equality. In terms of diversity initiatives, Cityside Financial Services had done well. After 69 years in business, the corporation had an extremely diverse workforce in 1999, with 50% of the workforce being women and 90% of the support workers being African Americans. Additionally, 25% of CEOs, 42% of senior managers, and 53% of middle managers were African Americans. Cityside Bank earned a reputation as a multiracial, high-functioning company over time. Although the bank was thought to be a multicultural organization, one executive referred to the two sales divisions as "two different banks" since they were built on two different and unique concepts.

Following questions are answered in this case study solution:

  1. What is the root cause of the problems that Spencer, Owens & Co. and City Side Financial Services are encountering? 

  2. What needs to change in each organization to address these problems? 

  3. Should organizations aspire to be culturally diverse and, if so, why?

Case Study Questions Answers

1. What is the root cause of the problems that Spencer, Owens & Co. and City Side Financial Services are encountering? 

Spencer Owens' discrimination-and-fairness paradigm created a cognitive blind spot by measuring diversity progress by how well the company met its recruitment and retention goals rather than by the extent to which employees were able to draw on their individual resources and perspectives to complete their work more successfully. The company's leadership was unable to identify the problem precisely or come up with a suitable remedy as a result. In order to comprehend what to do with its diversity after the numbers were attained, the company needed to undergo a cultural revolution. Spencer Owens had grappled with the challenges brought on by the diversity of its staff because senior management is averse to going through a cultural change.

The root of these issues is that workers needed to feel that their potential differences were recognized and acknowledged. The team's opinions on diversity versus affirmative action aims got separated due to the de-emphasis on sensitivity training and follow-up talks. With the original objective, which was to take into account people for their qualities and for their capacities to achieve what was anticipated or demanded of them, the misunderstandings became clear. When businesses provide employees from varied backgrounds the chance to engage with one another and take part in group activities, many minority workers claim they feel more at home at work.

African American employees worked in the department of retail operations, whereas white employees worked in the department of external deposits, which was one of the key reasons why Cityside was currently having issues. The difficulty, according to the director of External Deposits, was that there was a cultural prejudice against whites in terms of what was required of senior management here. Not that African Americans weren’t capable of doing all of that. But their scope had been constrained by historical racial tensions. One black officer in trade reportedly made a remark about how white employees wouldn't be able to meet the standards of the Retail unit.

This prejudice had a connection to ethnocentrism, which is the belief that one's own cultural standards and rules are superior to or more acceptable than those of other cultures. Poor career planning also demonstrated a further issue that African Americans had encountered as possible candidates for the External Deposit unit.

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