BUSN2044 Managing Diversity


Case Study

St Mary Charitable Trust: A Question of Discrimination

St Mary Charitable Trust is a Trust founded by a 20-year-old student named Fredrick Brown over 50 years ago. It was established by like-minded individuals who wished to put their faith into action. The Trust works as a Catholic organization that aspires to live the gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice, hope and joy. There are more than 5,000 members and volunteers working in more than 100 stores, who work hard to assist people in need and combat social injustice across Australia.

The new CEO, Emily Gordon, has recently joined this Trust and is very keen on taking this towards growth and better lives. The has previously worked in senior HR roles and have a keen interest in HR practices of the Trust. Emily visited several stores across the country, meet with the managers and employees. During these visits, she observed many discrepancies and is concerned with the inadequacies of the Trust’s current HR management practices and procedures.

One problem that mainly concerned her was the lack of attention to equal employment matters. Each store manager independently handled all hiring; the managers had received no training regarding such fundamental issues as the types of questions they should not ask of job applicants. It was therefore not unusual in fact, and it was routine for female applicants to be asked questions such as “Who s going to take care of your children while you are at work? And for minority applicants to be asked questions about their religion, race, arrest records and credit histories. Non-minority applicants, usually white males and white females, were not asked these questions.

Based on discussions with the HR department, Emily decided to do something, but before she could, she was faced with two serious equal rights problems.

As Emily discerned from her interviews with the managers, one of the women who was working as a regional manager, raised her concerns toward religious discrimination. The woman was not Catholic but described herself as a Christian. She worked for the Trust for six years and during that time she had been elected regional manager. The Trust knew that the woman was not Catholic when she was appointed

as regional manager. During a meeting which was previously held (before Emily has joined as CEO) between the head office and some various senior managers, the woman was told that not being Catholic had become a matter of contention for some members, and if she did not become Catholic, she could not continue to work for the Trust as regional manager and would have to either resign as a regional manager or resign from working for the Trust completely. The women have raised concerns about religious discrimination and planning to take legal action against the Trust

During another a fact-finding trip to a store in a small town, Emily found another issue of discrimination. Two women from this store privately confided to her that their manager was making unwelcome sexual advances toward them, and one of the women claimed that he had threatened to fire her unless she socialized with him after hours. These women are also considering to file a legal action against the manager.

Emily is concerned that these issues might be prevailing in many other stores and needed to be addressed as soon as possible.

Based on the above case, answer the following questions

  1. How can this Trust addresses the possible problems of religious discrimination
  2. Identify different steps the HR department should consider (using a multi-level approach) to tackle the widespread issue of sexual harassment in an organization.
  3. How might Emily, as an organization leader, spearhead the diversity initiatives?