Diversity at General Motors: Managing Diversity
General Motors Company, or General Motors (GM), is a major American car manufacturer whose headquarters is located in Detroit, Michigan. Founded in 1908, General Motors is one of America’s oldest and well-known car manufacturers. Today, GM is known for manufacturing many popular American vehicles such as, Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac. Being such a prominent American corporation, many factors need to be considered for productive and effective management and delivery. Diversity plays a considerable role in the success of large-scale companies. Merriam-Webster defines the term diversity as, “an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities” (11th ed). GM, in particular, attempts to use a diverse workplace as a way to drive their innovations forward. According to data provided by Statista (2018), “GM-number of employees came to around 180,000 people in 2017” (p. 1). That being said, it is crucial that General Motors incorporates diversity into their management goals in order to insure optimal creativity and innovation. In recent years especially, General Motors has used the 4 core principles to management success which are, planning, organizing, leading, and controlling, in creating a business structure that benefits all employees. Although it may be challenging at times, there are many benefits that go along with diversification in the workplace.
Possible Challenges in Managing Diversity and Planning Solutions
Combining individuals and groups from various multicultural backgrounds can be difficult due to issues such as prejudice and stereotypes. Disrespectful stereotypes and/or prejudice can deeply hinder employees’ ability to coexist and get work done. Employees will not feel obligated or motivated to work as a unit or complete assignments if they feel prejudice against coworkers. “Unfortunately, as society has evolved so has the form of prejudices and biases” (Blanero, Ruiz, & Padilla, 2018). As defined in the textbook, planning, “includes defining goals, establishing strategy, and developing plans to coordinate activities” (Robbins, DeCenzo, & Coulter, 2015, p. 9). GM utilizes the planning aspect by developing a dynamic that is based on diversity for both employees and consumers. “Our success depends on our relationships inside and outside the company. We encourage diverse thinking and collaboration from the world to create great customer experiences” (General Motors Co., 2017, p. 4). The company’s efficiency is largely dependent on the overall planning process, General Motors demonstrates a proactive plan for addressing diversity. Since most cultures have differences, it is likely that when two different groups need to collaborate at work, there may be infringements on professional and cultural etiquette. Chuang (2013) noted that despite diversity being beneficial for productivity, it could also be challenging since “Work ethics, behaviors, communication styles, and management-labor relationships are different from country to country” (p. 6). People that come from, or are used to contrasting views, can have varying attitudes or behaviors when it comes to work. These views need to be considered through all company functions and activities in order to ensure that all employees feel comfortable and welcome at work. Simple notions or actions can be taken as offensive by certain cultural standards making it imperative that employees and managers are aware of what is acceptable and unacceptable each other’s cultures. Making sure there is cohesion between different cultures is a crucial part of diversification in the workplace, it can also be regarded as one of the biggest challenges in a company.
Age diversity challenges. In addition to cultural differences, age/generational differences play a prominent role in how companies work on a regular basis. Society and technological advancements are factors that are everchanging. Due to this, managing differences that concern age and generation, can be tough. Issues such as appropriate office dress codes and the use of technology at work, are conflicts that can affect the operation of a company. Different kinds of jobs require employees to follow certain dress codes for work. In most office settings, the standard for work attire is constantly redefined. To avoid possible disagreement among workers, having a flexible option for office attire would be the best way. In addition to work clothing, technology use in the workplace can overlap with workers of different age. In 2015, Robbins, DeCenzo, and Coulter demonstrated the effect of technology on different generations stating, “Gen Y has grown up with ATMs, DVDs, cell phones, e-mail, texting, laptops, and the Internet. When they don’t have information they need, they just enter a few keystrokes to get it. They’re content to meet virtually to solve problems, while baby boomers expect information problems to be solved with in-person meetings” (p. 73). In order to achieve coordination and effective work, establishing understanding and flexible conditions between age groups is a major step forward for companies. General Motors has a variety of workers that belong to various age groups. According to General Motors, (2017), 12.6% of GM employees are under age 30, 42.8% are ages 30-49, and 44.6% are over age 50 (p. 5). Employing individuals of varying ages allows GM to meet the standards that customers expect when looking for a vehicle. Since employees of all ages have something to offer the company, being flexible and considering the preferences of contrasting age groups is important in maintaining age diversity.
Managing and Organizing Possible Diversification Challenges
Although challenges are presented when trying to maintain diversification in the workplace, there are methods of managing them, resulting in a more progressive working environment. Establishing an atmosphere that promotes inclusion, tolerance and appreciation of differences is a useful tactic to build up teamwork. By opening up free communication opportunities between members of various departments, it becomes simpler for employees to talk and potentially form bonds between one another. “The relationship can be enhanced by spending time together and considering the members’ needs, expectations, and values” (Chaung, 2013, p. 7). GM utilizes the organizing principle, of the 4 core principles, in the business operations. Organizing is defined as, “…determining what tasks are to be done, who is to do them, how the tasks are to be grouped, who reports to whom, and who will make decisions” (Robbins, DeCenzo, & Coulter, 2015, p. 9). In fact, General Motors currently runs strategic diversity partnerships with various organizations including, 100 Black Men of America, Inc., Global Colloquium for Women, and National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (GM, 2017, p. 5). Due to these beneficial partnerships, GM successfully organizes their agenda to recognize the benefits of a diverse company. Furthermore, keeping an open mind can go a long way in a corporate setting. Accepting all kinds of individuals can be beneficial for employees because it strengthens both public and office relations. In most cases, it is crucial that company leaders look at the main objectives, in other words, the big idea. By utilizing the organizational core principle, GM is able to keep up with changing diversification issues. “The success and sustainability of any cultural shift is driven by its people. And how people connect both inside and outside of the organization provides the cultural bridge” (GM, 2017, p. 14). Achieving long term goals and solving challenges becomes easier when the company objective is inclusive and communitive.
Benefits of Diverse Workplace: Leading and Controlling Innovation/Public Relations
With diverse perspectives come creative and varied ideas that can positively contribute to company efficiency. A variety of views and professional experience allows a team to unite and work together to offer new concepts that benefit future business ventures. Leading “includes motivating employees, directing the activities of others, selecting the most effective communication channel, and resolving conflicts” (Robbins, DeCenzo, & Coulter, 2015, p. 9). General Motors is leading in innovation, popularity, and success, especially amongst competing vehicle manufacturers. “Today GM continues to be among the most diverse automotive employers globally, from the board room to the plant floor” (GM, 2017, p. 6). With more ideas being generated, workers are motivated to produce thoughts that are unique and useful. Diversity also gives team members the chance to improve and grow as professionals and as individuals, both at work and in their communities. The final core function for management success is controlling which “includes monitoring performance, comparing it with goals, and correcting any significant deviations” (Robbins, DeCenzo, & Coulter, 2015, p. 9). GM uses diversity to control positive social effects outside the company and throughout the community. “Our social investments promote economic growth through STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Education, Vehicle and Road Safety and Community Development” (GM, 2017, p. 18). By providing the public with information, skills, and encouragement, General Motors has become an active participant in engaging with various diverse communities all over the nation as well as globally. These advancements allow for learning and cooperation among different types of people. Diversity opens the door to advantageous opportunities and benefits both within and outside of the workplace.
Diversification of corporate settings is a topic that is becoming increasingly important as the years progress. Due to the fact that General Motors is a massive corporation, they make it their mission to have the ability to merge groups of all different walks of life for a more innovative company. GM applies the 4 core functions of management success (planning, organizing, leading, & controlling) to provide a proactive company that has the ability to cater to the needs of both employees and the public. Although there are various challenges, they are manageable, and there are many benefits that result.
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