“RESPECT” – Focus on Diversity

The Client

An Ohio-based brewing facility employing self-directed, cross-functional teams responsible for managing aspects of production, quality, cost, safety, and employee relations.

The Situation

The plant’s labor contract states that the brewery is “built on the premise that employees are capable of making decisions affecting them when given the proper training and resources. Employees working in teams are, therefore, expected to resolve the issues that impact them.” The corporate slogan is “Great People, Great Company, Great Beer!”

At the Ohio plant, a series of diversity training sessions and other organizational initiatives had been established, but weren’t achieving intended objectives. The resulting environment created tension that reduced employee morale, productivity and quality.

The Challenge

Management discovered that it takes a unique set of skills to educate employees about diversity and respecting differences – and is especially difficult if trainers, management in this case, bring their own “baggage” to the situation.

The Solution

Initially, the Ohio plant created a multidisciplinary team to address these issues. Members included union representatives, management and human resources. The group sought to find an outside consultant to help them with the problems they were unable to resolve themselves.

IRI Consultants was selected because “they challenged the group to confront the real issues and commit to necessary change before work began. That’s what made them stand out.”

As the process continued, it involved more than simply training people about diversity. IRI helped the organization through serious issues. Communication strategizing and planning were key elements so that employees were able to understand their roles and how they contribute to the organization’s success.

IRI also helped to enlist individuals who were trusted by employees to communicate with them. Union representatives and other key people were asked to work on the project, address any “diversity” issues they may have, and only then would communications begin with employees.

The Results

Following an organization-wide assessment, issues were identified and a training and education program was developed to create awareness and address diversity issues on an ongoing basis.

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