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HRM Assignment: Case Study Analysis of Birkenshire Corporation


Task: Consider the Case Study of “Birkenshire Corporation: The Pink Towels and prepareHRM assignment answering the following question:
1: How should the management of Birkenshire interpret the situation
2: How should Birkenshire respond to the staff
3: Recommend a future plan for Birkenshire in dealing with related issues.


1 How should the management of Birkenshire interpret the situation
The organisation’s offering of pink towels on International women’s day as discussed in the HRM assignment has contributed with two contesting interpretation presented in the case from the employees.Staff A put forth an argument of the pink towels being conscientiously discriminatory and sexist in nature.

This should essentially be interpreted as both a gender issue and a cultural conflict at workplace. The cultural conflict stems from the fact that Chinese employees do not perceive the gift of pink towels as discriminatory whereas the non-Chinese employees do. Similarly, the gender disparity arises from the fact that the normative discourse associates women with soft features, feminine colours.However, employees such as Staff E stated that this is a cultural conflict, as in china the pink towels as gifts are held in high regard. There are no gender connotations associated with the colour pink and the pink towels as material appreciation, which expresses recognition for their work, is very appreciated by certain members of the workforce. In cultures such as that of UK, the society essentially has a low power distance, where the society believes in minimising inequality among people. The western cultures are essentially individualistic and are driven by a sense of fair play. The high masculinity dimension in the society also indicate that the members of the culture are driven by success, achievement and competition and favour equality in opportunity and treatment and are driven by a strong ambition. As stated by Hofstede, the perception of gender is essentially a reflection of the cultural values and is related with the feminine or masculinity dimension of culture. The cultural norms in the workplace place the women at a disadvantageous position. Women in China are more likely to spend 1/6th of their lives on household activities(Bloomberg, 2020).The Chinese society is more inclined to retaining assumptions that men should be associated with high-ranking managerial and executive roles whereas women should be linked with household and familial roles. The masculine roles are more assertive, controlling, dominant and self-promotional, whereas the feminine are considered to be supportive, Selfless and friendly. Henceforth, this could be perceived as a gender conflict, since company instead of recognising the different professional achievements if their female staff are instead conforming to the patriarchal discourse and objectifying them with gifts which are more focused on their looks instead of their professional and intellectual qualities.

2 How should Birkenshire respond to the staff
It is important to understand the phenomenon, which could establish disagreement or discord, there should be a more proactive step taken in handling the disputes and ensure that these situations are advised and diffused quickly in order to negate any negative influence on the employee work performance.

As stated by Odor(2018), the workers typify collective behaviour, essentiallyfocusing on esteem needs and social needs overself-actualisation and self-needs. This is further corroborated by Hofstede cultural dimension, which posits China as a collective society, unlike cultures such as UK, which is inherently a individualistic society. China is a highly collectivistic culture, where people are often acting in the interests of the collective(Yi, Ribbens, Fu, & Cheng, 2015). The culture in the country believes that the inequalities among people is essentiallyacceptable, individuals are influenced by the show of formal authority, which is due to the high power distance in the culture. As a high power distance society, the Chinese employees are more likely to respect the authorities and comply with their superiors rather than the Americans. Conforming to paternalistic cultural tradition is common among theChineseemployees(Hofstede, 2011). The Chinese employees did not perceive the pink towels as potential problem for the female employees. The different connotations associated with the colour pink and the other cultural dimensions such as a high power distance imply the Chinese employees perceiving it as a cultural conflict, whereas the non-Chinese employee perceived the gifts as a gender stereotype.

Since some of the employees have perceived the fits in a positive light whereas other employees in the organisation opine the gifts to be stereotypical, the organisation should ensure a clear and transparent communication to the employees clarifying their objective and apologising for their mistake. It is important to establish an environment of greater awareness regarding gender bias and stereotypes.There is a need for taking in consideration the tastes and the needs of the different employees who belong to diverse cultural background(Caputo, Marzi, Maley, & Silic, 2019).

3 Recommend a future plan for Birkenshire in dealing with related issues.. In order to ensure that the human resources of the organisation is managed successfully, the first aim of the company should be to issue an apology to any staff member who may have been offended by the pink towel as a gift. Being transparent and clear in communication will help the organisation in negating any discontent among the employees, which could have been caused. Insensitivity to cultural or gender issues could create challenges in managing a diverse workforce and inhibit the employees from increasing their productivity. As stated by Peng (2011), emotions in the workplace are found to influence the attitudinal outcomes. It is important for the human resource manager in the organisation to be aware of the different cultures in the organisation, striking an appropriate balance, communicating with the employees will help in understanding the customs, protocols and businesspractices of the employees.

It is important in the organisation to accommodate the different cultural requirements. Since there is a lack of communication in the organisation, which isevident from the discontent with the gift of pink towels among the employees, the onus of the organisation should be to adopt an open door policy and incorporating open and seamless communication in the organisation. The manager should combat the gender issues in the workplace through development and training initiatives, which will focus on increasing awareness regarding the gender related issues in the workplace(Prause & Mujtaba, 2015). The organisation should also encourage change in the employee behaviour for creating a conducive, collaborative and open environment irrespective of gender and develop working relationship in between women and men. Similarly, regarding rewards and gifts, the onus should be on minimise any gender or cultural stereotypes. There is an argument presented by Staff A regarding men receiving pink towels as a token of appreciation from the company which is not the case. Instead of gifting pink towels, gifting items of daily use such as key rings, cardholders, agendas and other items could be used as gifts. Discussions regarding mutual benefit relationship could be applied for situations could result in cross cultural conflicts(Tjosvold, Wong, & Feng Chen, 2014).

The organisation could also engage in diversity and sensitivity training in order to increase the awareness of the employees regarding the culture of other employees. This will help in creating an inclusive and tolerant environment(Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2018). Similarly, there should be sensitivity training in order to avoid any gender stereotype, which could create gender conflicts in the workplace.The organisation should also look into diversifying their board, setting targets for cultural, gender diversity in the board will help in incorporate varied perspective and will help in ensuring the cultural, and ender conflicts in the workplace are minimised(Jiang & Yang, 2011).

Bloomberg. (2020). Being a Woman in China Means Working a Sixth of Your Life Unpaid. Retrieved September 12, 2020, from Bloomberg:
Caputo, A., Marzi, G., Maley, J., & Silic, M. (2019). Ten years of conflict management research 2007-2017. International Journal of Conflict Management. Hofstede, G. .. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede model in context. (2(1)), pp.2307-0919.
Jiang, X., & Yang, J. (2011). “Understanding the work values of Chinese employees”, . Scientific Research, 2 (6), 579-583.
Noe, R. A., Hollenbeck, J. R., Gerhart, B., & Wright, P. M. (2018).
Fundamentals of human resource management.HRM assignment McGraw-Hill.
Odor, H. (2018). Organisational culture and dynamics. . Global Journal of Management and Business Research.
Prause, D., & Mujtaba, B. (2015). Conflict management practices for diverse workplaces. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly,(6(3), ), 13. Tjosvold, D., Wong, A., & Feng Chen, N. (2014). Constructively managing conflicts in organizations. Annu. Rev. Organ. Psychol. Organ. Behav.,(1(1)), .545-568.
Yi, X., Ribbens, B., Fu, L., & Cheng, W. (2015). Variation in career and workplace attitudes by generation, gender, and culture differences in career perceptions in the United States and China. Employee Relations.


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