Michaels Companies is one of the largest US-based store chains to specialize in various arts and crafts. The company operates over 1,250 stores and provides artistry goods, craftwork, framing, wall décor merchandise, floral arrangements, and DIY (do-it-yourself) decorations market (“Michaels Companies Inc”). It employs over 12,000 workers in North America alone, making it a large employer in the job market (“Michaels Companies Inc”). Diversity is a very important aspect of creative arts, as individuality and cultural variety make the business shine.
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Michaels Companies are known for their liberal and progressive attitudes towards diversity and inclusion in the workplace. At the same time, the US is experiencing a resurgence of exclusion based on gender, race, age, and social backgrounds. To resist these trends and benefit from the advantages that inclusion has to follow, the company needs to focus on training its senior management staff and its employees in diversity consciousness. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the company’s existing policies and practices and develop comprehensive training programs for executives, staff, junior managers, and employees.
Diversity Areas of Michaels
Race and Ethnicity
Michaels is a very inclusive company in terms of race and ethnicity. Michaels Stores Experience report states that the company pays well and has a very diverse pool of employees, which vouches for its commitment to offer equal opportunity to various minorities (“Michaels Stores”). This fact is reinforced by a news story, where one of the shop managers was berated by a racist customer for having diverse employees (Eversley). The company stood up for its manager and employees, further affirming its diversity goals.
Age and Generation
Michaels Stores has expressed an ageist approach towards its workforce. Although the company hires individuals from 16 years of age and has no hard limit on the maximum employee age, the majority of its employees are young people (“Michaels Salaries”). This approach is motivated by a list of prejudices towards elderly individuals in the workforce, with an implicit claim that they are less physically and mentally capable of adhering to the high standards of creativity and quality expected at the stores.
Gender and Gender Identity
There is no information on gender equality and identity issues in Michaels Stores.
Religious and Spiritual Beliefs
There is no information on religious issues and biases in Michaels Stores.
Disability and Ability
The company seems to discriminate against disabled individuals based on the same list of qualms it uses to invalidate older employees from its workforce. The general claims are that disabled individuals are physically incapable of performing certain activities at the stores. Other implicit biases prevent disabled individuals from being hired in creative positions, with a justification that certain physical and mental impairments make it hard for them to create art.
Socioeconomic Status and Background
Michaels Stores is conscious of socioeconomically-disadvantaged individuals. They participate in several programs to assist families and individuals coming from poor and underprivileged backgrounds. One of these examples includes the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), which seeks to reduce the 25% unemployment rate experienced by ex-members of the military and help readjust them into the society (Irving). This program also seeks to improve the standing of military wives, who suffer from a gender-specific wage gap in the majority of industries.
Executive and Staff Training Program
Executives and staff members form the anti-age climate currently being experienced at Michaels Stores. If the company is to reap the benefits of inclusion, the much-needed change in perspective needs to come from above. Ageism is a destructive ideology for businesses, as it asserts that one age category is superior to another based on economic, political, and social factors (Bucher 110). Addresses some of the underlying biases, thus, is the necessary first step in overcoming them. The proposed training program is as follows (see Fig. 1).
The aims and purposes of the program include creating a newfound understanding and appreciation of aged employees. Simply ordering high managers and executives to hire older individuals would not have the desired effect, as following orders without understanding their purpose would not improve the levels of respect towards the HR department and aged employees in general. The first step of the program involves acquainting all related top-tier personnel with what ageism is and why is it a moral and economical problem (Young). Without getting too much in-depth, it would prepare the individuals in question for the change that is about to occur.
The second step involves conducting personalized tests and interviews to determine the reasons behind ageism in particular executives and staff members. Some of them might be averse to working with older people for personal reasons, whereas others would simply view them as less efficient in some matters than younger workers. Typically, all reasons for ageism result in generalizations rather than an objective evaluation of the candidate in question (Young).
The third step would involve an in-depth explanation of how ageism hurts the company. This lecture would involve presenting academic evidence, examples of companies successfully utilizing aged workers at all levels of decision-making, from the ground floor, and up to the executive office (Young). Numbers and charts will demonstrate the impact of ageism on productivity, retention, turnover, and economic loss.
The fourth step would add personal experience to the theoretical constructs presented during the previous steps. It will involve visiting companies that employ aged workers and speaking directly with some of them, to learn how their diverse backgrounds, knowledge, and expertise affect the workplace. This experience will teach executives and staff about how useful and valuable aged individuals are to the workforce.
The last step would involve internalizing the ideas and messages behind the training program. Michaels Stores requires a new recruitment strategy that would improve workforce diversity by adding aged employees to all positions. Since the company has a top-down structure and all major changes come from the top, executive officers and staff members would need to generate a new course of action utilizing the information and experiences learned throughout the training program.
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Junior Managers and Employees Training Program
Junior managers and employees do not take a direct part in the decision-making process regarding the employment of aged workers in Michaels Stores. However, they do possess their share of biases towards these individuals. Common perceptions shared among ground-level workers is that older people are slower, physically weaker, have a poor grasp on technology, and do not have the creative talent to work in arts and crafts.
While they cannot prevent old people from joining the workforce, they have the potential to make their experience unpleasant, contributing to higher turnover rates. The proposed training program will involve dispelling these biases in the following order (see Fig. 2).
The first and second steps of the program are similar to the executive and staff member employee training schedule, as before a personalized intervention can be adopted, it is necessary to get everyone on board with the intervention and to identify the prevalence of biases in individual employees. While executives and staff members are usually motivated by the larger vision of the company and perceived economic disadvantages, ageism in low-tier employees usually results from a lack of empathy and identification with the disadvantaged groups (Choate).
Empathy training can include conversations, mindfulness, and becoming acquainted with coworkers (Klipfel). Teambuilding exercises will help younger and older employees to learn more about each other and treat one another as equals. Lastly, the internalization process will involve conducting interviews with employees to learn how did the training program transforms its perspective.
Improving the Level of Diversity Consciousness
The tenets of Total Quality Management (TQM) suggest that practices and methods should be evaluated and critically perceived at all stages, from the bottom line and towards the very top (Hashmi). Diversity is required a required component of TQM in that regard. Michaels Stores must realize that diversity of race, age, gender, and socio-economic background does not have a value in itself. It is the different perspectives, knowledge, and skillsets that come with different backgrounds that are valuable.
If the collective is made up of people who agree with one another on most subjects, they become amorphous and inert to change, thus sabotaging the critical perspective required for TQM. To further improve the level of diversity consciousness, the company must acknowledge the specific insights and values that diversity of opinion and experience brings to the table.
Benefits of Adopting the Proposed Training Programs
Michaels Stores’ benefits from adopting the two training programs relate to expanding their HR efficiency. The adoption of a top-down recruitment policy would ensure that the company would get access to a wider range of potential employees with different skillsets and experiences, which would improve the quality of labor and the ease of replacing employees in an event of turnover. The bottom-up employee training strategy would significantly reduce turnover rates among elderly employees and contribute to a healthier working climate.
Physical Value of Diversity Training
Turnover offers significant risks of material loss for Michaels Stores. The average economic loss from having to replace an employee is estimated at 2-5 monthly salaries per employee, depending on how hard it is to replace them (Dickson).
The average monthly salary at Michaels Stores in the US varies from 1300$ to 25000$, depending on the position (“Michaels Salaries”). Since most turnover occurs in the low-tier employment sector, the company loses between 2600$-6500$ for every older individual that left the workplace because of ageism policies and attitudes. With the average turnover in the retail sector amounting to 15% a year, and older individuals taking up around 6% of the entire turnover pool, Michaels Stores will be able to retain roughly 360 employees a year and save the company between 1,000,000$-2,500,000 dollars in turnover costs, which would effectively compensate the expenditures associated with diversity training and propagation.
Bucher, Richard R. Diversity Consciousness: Opening Our Minds to People, Cultures, and Opportunities. 4th ed., Pearson, 2015.
Choate, Andrea. “12 Ways to Eliminate Ageism and be More Inclusive.” HRPS. 2018. Web.
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Eversley, Melanie. “$32K Raised for Michael’s Manager Subjected to Customer Tirade in Chicago.” USA Today. 2016. Web.
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Irving, Texas. “Michaels Joins Military Spouse Employment Partnership.” The Michaels Companies. 2015. Web.
Klipfel, Marcy. “Empathy in Practice: Four Actions to Initiate Now.” Forbes. 2018. Web.
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“Michaels Salaries in the United States.” Indeed. 2019. Web.
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