In today’s business world, a company that lacks a policy on diversification is unlikely to compete effectively. The growth in Information Communication Technology and globalization means that the world has increasingly become a smaller place and what happens in on end of the world will influence actions and decisions in far-away places. Hayes (2004) notes that most US companies have tried to address the issue of diversity after noticing the impact it has on business.
Consequently, companies have tried to appear more inclusive in their recruitment policies. Yet the issues run deeper than just staff recruitment. As companies are out to satisfy the needs of their customers, they need to understand the needs of the customers. This can only be done by understanding the customer’s cultural nuances (Hayes, 2004). For companies with global operations, the need arises then to understand the cultural needs of the various groups in the different countries of operation.
Hayes (2004) has noted the importance of understanding this because issues of race, ethnicity and minority rights vary from country to country. Proper diversification has a direct impact on the performance of a business. Some of the direct results of properly executed diversification plans include “connection with the customer, employee motivation and employee innovation” (Diversity Return on Investment, 2003). The sheer size of Wal-Mart’s operations makes diversity a critical consideration for the company.
Wal-Mart has close to 8,000 stores globally and serves more than 100 million customers annually (About us, 2009). This raises the need to understand the different cultural needs of the diverse communities that the company serves in addition to undertaking recruitment procedures that guarantee that the company hires people who will satisfy different customers’ needs. Sound diversity programs are inevitable for companies with long-term growth plans because of the change in demographics in the US.
Changing demographics are accompanied by new customer needs which companies need to adapt to. Results from the 2000 census, (Diversity Return on Investment 2003), show a changing demographic field that growth-minded companies must adjust to for future survival. According to these statistics, the people considered minorities are actually the majority “in six out of eight largest metropolitan areas of the US” and “the combined Black, Hipic and Asian buying power is more than $750 billion” (Diversity Returns on Investment, 2003).
Hayes (2003) notes that while Whites constitute the biggest percentage of the US population, population growth trends indicate that, as a percentage of the whole population, their numbers have fallen from 76% in 1990 to 69% in 2000. Yet, in this same period, Hipic numbers have been on the rise and the projection is that they will be the biggest minority group by 2005. Asian Americans have also been increasing in numbers and, since 1990 their population has increased by 100% so that by 2000 they were 4. 2% of the total population. (Hayes, 2004).
Owing to the enormous size of the company and the diversity of its areas of operation, Wal-Mart has special communication needs. This, in addition to criticism leveled against the company for failing to effect measures that show commitment to diversity, made the company establish a communication plan in 2007 (Wal-Mart’s Communication plan, 2007). This program was created to address a number of problems but primarily to reduce staff turnover and to understand customer needs. Overall, the program was meant to improve communication within and outside the company.
To implement it, Wal-Mart hired 300 human resource managers to work in the field. By doing this, the company hoped to get all the workers, whatever their location, moving in the same direction in pursuit of profit and growth for the company (Wal-Mart’s New Communication Plan, 2007). In appreciation of the relationship between communication, growth and profit, the new communication plan was launched together with an ethics hotline on which employees of the company could report disturbing issues.
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