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In every organization, good employee treatment, appreciation of racial and ethnic diversity, and effective communication are the pillars of successful business and growth. Notably, Coca-Cola is an international company, which handles various consumers and employees from diverse cultures and races.
The fact that the company operates in several countries such as the United States makes it one of the companies that encounters issues that pertain to race and culture. Over time, several challenges have been evident in the company. These challenges experienced by Coca-Cola Company range from employees, management, public relations, management structure to issues that regard communication.
Therefore, the essay discusses the discrimination issues raised by four African-Americans that led to a lawsuit, examines actions that would have prevented or minimized the lawsuit, and considers the company’s structural and human resource perspectives and leadership styles.
The discrimination issues raised by four African-Americans centered on promotions, salaries, and dismissals. In essence, African-Americans complained that Coca-Cola Company was not fair in employee treatment. According to Harvey and Allard (2014), the employees explained that the company discriminated them based on race or gender when they undertook promotions or dismissals.
As a result, many African-Americans and women experienced untimely dismissals and low pay, unlike their white counterparts. Furthermore, racial and gender discrimination comprised unfair promotions, which focused on whites leaving out some women and African-Americans, who were outstanding and deserved promotions.
For instance, during the study done by the oversight committee formed to oversee the lawsuit settlement compliance in the company, one of the observations was the concentration of the Blacks in low-level employment. Moreover, in 2002, the 14-team board members of the company comprised two White women, 1 African-American, and 11 White men, an element that demonstrated the high disparity of fairness in Coca-Cola Company.
Some of the actions that Coca-Cola Company would have undertaken to address the discrimination issues raised by four African-Americans before it became a class action lawsuit included fair treatment of employees and good communication.
Since the issues presented by the employees concerned racial and gender discrimination, it implies that Coca-Cola Company should have focused on initiatives that encouraged employees regardless of their race or gender. In the assertion of Estreicher and Sherwyn (2009), the company received complaints from African-Americans and dismissed them, an act that demonstrated the absence of concern for employee grievances.
By engaging in the activities geared towards the aspect of gender and race, the company would have effectively minimized or prevented the issues before they resulted in a class lawsuit. By dismissing the grievances advanced by their employees, the company compelled them to present their issues in a court of law.
It is evident that if the company had listened to the grievances such as discrimination and addressed them effectively, the challenge would not have become a class lawsuit. An outstanding example is clear when Carl Ware, one of the high ranked African-Americans in the company, employed problem-solving skills in 1981 and drafted a $50 million program (Harvey & Allard, 2014).
The program focused on improving businesses of the Blacks and played a major role in defusing a boycott that threatened the company in its early stages. To consider structural and human resource perspectives in Coca-Cola Company, the essay answers the questions that relate to Parker’s triangle ‘emotional connection of distinguishing differences and conflicts.’ Since Coca-Cola is an international company, it has to institute real structural and human resources platforms that facilitate just and fair treatment and communication among employees and management.
Harvey and Allard (2014) explain that absence of proper structures and bureaucratic form of leadership that focused on high returns and employee exploitation led to the development of a class lawsuit against the company. In essence, various executives of the company downplayed the fundamental nature of the fair and just treatment of all employees irrespective of their gender and racial diversities.
As a result, minorities felt that the company did not value their efforts, and hence, decided to take their issues to court. The complexity of the issues that commenced with only four employees escalated and became a class lawsuit, which comprised more than 1,000 plaintiffs. At the time when the employees filed a lawsuit, Coca-Cola Company was in the unfreezing step of the traditional change model.
The model explains that in the unfreezing stage, leaders respond to change when there is a threat or an event. The level applies because at the time when of the lawsuit, the leaders responded and even hired Carl Ware, who was an African-American in its top management. Consequently, the leadership styles of Ivestor, Daft, Isdell, and Kent in the company were diverse.
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Ivestor applied bureaucratic leadership, which emphasized on high returns and little attention on employee requirements. Out of his actions, the company experienced reduced sales and declined revenues (Estreicher & Sherwyn, 2009). On the other hand, Daft, Isdell, and Kent employed a delegated and all-inclusive type of leadership, which ensured that employees performed their duties without hawk-eye supervision. As such, the Coca-Cola Company has grown to become one the leading and successful distributors of soft drinks around the globe.
The case of Coca-Cola illustrates the issue of racial discrimination in companies. The four African Americans complained that Coca-Cola discriminate against them in terms of promotions, salaries, and dismissals. Coca-Cola could have treated employees fairly and provided effective communication to address the issue.
In preventing lawsuit, Coca-Cola could have listened to the grievances aired by the employees. Coca-Cola needs to institute real structural and human resources platforms that facilitate just and fair treatment of employees.
Estreicher, S., & Sherwyn, D. (2009). Employment Class and Collective Actions: Proceedings of the New York University 56th Annual Conference on Labor. New York: Kluwer Law International.
Harvey, C., &. Allard, M. (2014). Understanding and Managing Diversity: Readings, Cases, and Exercises. New York: Prentice Hall Publishers.