This research proposal is aiming to explore the application of diversity management within a multinational company, Honeywell, and the relationship between diversity management and employees’ outcome. The research method collect primary data via questionnaires and semistructured interviews as well as through secondary data from the company’s official website.
With globalisation and changing demographic trends, the constitution of the international labour force is undergoing tremendous changes. Unlike the original male-dominated labour market, more and more women and ethnic minorities have begun to flood the job market (Wilkinson et al., 2017). How to manage and utilise these increasingly diverse workforces and being inclusive has become part of the critical agenda of enterprises due to its stimulus of the business case (Theodorakapoulos & Budhwar, 2015).
The concept of diversity management, proposed since the late 1980s, can be considered as the acceptance that the labour force is formed from diverse people with different characteristics, including gender, age, ethnicity, personality, race, disability (Kandola & Fullerton, 1994). This helps organisations establish a productive environment where every employee can feel that they are been valued, ensuring their capabilities are being fully used. Another definition by Arredondo (1996) suggests that diversity management is a sort of strategic organisational method, aiming to develop labour force diversity, empower employees, and change company culture. It stands for a type of inclusive management action, which highlights staff diversity and their inherent capacity rather than simple affirmative action.
As for how to put it into organisational practice, Pitts (2006) proposed that diversity management has three interconnected constituents:
- Recruitment and outreach (i.e. locating a diverse workforce to enable broader scope of ideas in the workplace);
- Valuing such differences; and
- Pragmatic programmes and policies (e.g. management tools that embrace religious minorities worship in the workplace or that hold regular events for LGBT staff).
From an organisational learning perspective the emphasis is on the differences being affirmed at corporate levels, and encouraging companies to vary their main business or explore other business fields. The number of companies that fit such a learning paradigm is meagre for a number of complex reasons. But Noon (2007) argues that in business, employers might be unwilling to take measures to promote equal opportunities since they might not be aware of the actual benefits that more inclusive HR policies could bring. For example, employers have to satisfy stakeholder requirements and pay attention to short-term rewards (Metcalf & Forth, 2000; Noon, 2007). With a blinkered view managers may appreciate the underlying benefits of conducting equality policies, but these ideas are rejected due to economic reasoning as such benefits may be hard to quantify, or finding evidence to demonstrate the necessity of implementing the strategies is likewise difficult.
However, there are many positive impacts to a diversity management approach. The results of a European Commission (2005) survey of 919 European enterprises showed that managing diversity can bring commercial profit, and can improve marketing outcomes and boost innovation (Wilkinson et al., 2017). Moreover, the overall reputation and the company’s image improves through implementing diversity management as will employee retention rates and productivity further saving on labour costs (Wilkinson et al., 2017).
The literature studying diversity management’s outcome at organisation-level is plentiful, but research on the impact of managing diversity on employee’s outcome is limited (CIPD, 2018). Accordingly, this dissertation focuses on locating the relationship between diversity management and individual-level outcomes such as staff well-being and their satisfaction. Patrick and Kumar (2012) suggest that diversity is going to be more important in the next few years, and it is necessary to take action immediately and to invest resources to manage workplace diversity. It would also enable companies to formulate more appropriate diversity programmes that contain each staff’s diversity, which will, in turn, strengthen employees’ commitment, sense of corporate identity and productivity at work.
2. Research Questions
The research focuses on the following research questions, aiming to investigate the application of diversity management in Honeywell and its impact on employees’ outcomes.
Question 1: What are Honeywell employees’ understanding of diversity management?
Foster and Harris (2005) stated that some companies may have a document detailing their approach to managing diversity, a declaration of sorts, but that the accurate meaning of diversity management has not been defined clearly. This may lead to misunderstanding and confusion about how this concept is being interpreted in the organisation. At the same time, for managers, the difficulty of utilising the appropriate policies to identify each individual diversity/difference case is enhanced due to the lack of an established understanding. Each company or organisation’s case will be different, of course. Hence, this question will help to find out whether Honeywell’s employees share a common understanding of this term.
Question 2: What is the attitude of Honeywell employees towards diversity management?
This question aims to help evaluate the company’s emphasis on diversity management and implementation, and distinguish which management approach Honeywell is using (e.g. the access legitimacy or the learning paradigm). Whereas RQ1’s focus on ‘understanding’ focuses on stated company definitions or declarations that ought to reflect how a company like Honeywell promotes diversity, this RQ focuses on how that stated declaration or definition is handled in day-to-day practice.
Question 3: What is the relationship between diversity management and the individual-level outcomes such as staff’s well-being and their satisfaction?
In other words, to what extent employees think that diversity workplace will make an impact on their working outcome such as influence their motivation and how it would affect that? Having examined intent in RQ1 followed by action in RQ2, this RQ seeks to understand what are some of the outcomes of diversity policies among Honeywell employees at various levels.
3. Overall Research Approach
This dissertation research will take a predominantly deductive and positivist approach to this project (Saunders, et al., 2016). There could be an argument for adopting a targeted in-depth approach to explore attitudes, values and informed experiences using a qualitative approach (e.g. Lauring’s (2013) research), and there is scope for the collection of more nuanced qualitative data as well (see below). However, given the explicit focus for this research is the broad conceptualisation and application of diversity in and around a large work force and what this means in practice, where factors race, gender, ethnicity, religious observance, sexual orientation, age, etc. it is also valid to adopt an approach that utilises a larger (and more diverse) sample set (Ashikali & Groeneveld, 2015; Nishi & Özbilgin, 2007).
Given diversity management is a broad area, and to cover such a wide range of factors that are likely evident in a large organisation like Honeywell it is prudent to start the research with an examination of these general concepts and then narrow theories down into the particular assumption that can be tested and is measurable, and ultimately generalizable (Saunders et al., 2016). In this way, many data generated by a survey, such as employees’ satisfaction levels, will collect numerical and be analysed using statistical methods. Previous research such as that by Ashikali & Groeneveld (2015) will be adapted to help form a conceptual approach to this research. Furthermore, the literature review in this dissertation will be key in developing a conceptual basis for this positivist approach, particularly through its focus on diversity management in the context of large multinational organisations.
Following this a clear basis for data collection and analysis will be presented founded both on key research methods literature (Collis & Hussey, 2014; Creswell, 2014; Saunders, et al., 2016) as well as previous research conducted into diversity in the workplace sample (Ashikali & Groeneveld, 2015; Nishi & Özbilgin, 2007). Empirically, the aim is to illustrate the current status of Honeywell’s diversity programmes, and the reason why the company is compelled to implement diversity policies, and how this contributes to employees’ work. The guiding framework here will be set by the initial research questions. This study combines primary quantitative data with secondary data from Honeywell so as to explore the implementation of diversity management as well as its impact on employee’s experiences.
As small sample sizes can help research to explore a particular case within a particular context (e.g. Lauring’s (2013) work), some Honeywell employees will be requested to take part in a complementary interview as part of the primary data collection. In addition, Honeywell’s policy documents relating to diversity management, the company website, and data in the public news3 will be used as the secondary data and background to the case example. Starman (2013) points out that the case study approach assists researchers to better understand the nature of practice (see also Yin (2014) who argues that the case study can improve the effectiveness and validity of research).
4. Methods and Data Analysis
As stated above, each company has its own context, and how each values diversity management is different, it is challenging to explore a country or industry’s implementation of diversity management within the timeframe of a dissertation project. Thus, this research plans a case study of Honeywell International as a way to address issues of feasibility. Both secondary data and primary data will be collected in the case study. Firstly, as above, secondary data be collected from the company’s official website. This part will mainly focus on developing an overview of Honeywell itself, through such documents as their Code of Conduct (Honeywell, 2018), the inclusive award they got in 2019 (see footnote 3 above), and Marina Lvovich’s (Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Diversity at Honeywell) interview which was recorded online (sourced via YouTube). These sources demonstrate the company’s current commitment to diversity and lays the foundation for the following research.
Secondary data obtained at this stage will be used to develop the primary descriptive and explanatory aspects of this study (Saunders et al., 2016). Questionnaires mainly (but also semi-structured face-to-face interview to a certain extent) will be used as main research methods in order to collect primary data from Honeywell.
Obviously, given the above constraints, it is not possible to send a questionnaire to every employee. Nevertheless, the research aims to randomly sample respondents across the whole organisation. The goal is to only collect valid data from a minimum of 60 employees through the questionnaire method (Yada & Savolainen, 2017). The issue of whether or not generalizability is feasible will have to be left until data collection is complete. SPSS and Excel will be used to analyse the questionnaire data, and to find out the relevance between the understanding of diversity management and factors such as age, gender and different department contexts based on a model developed from previous diversity research. Permission to access Honeywell in order to collect data has been gained through personal contacts, thus ensuring the research will be completed within the required time.
According to Bryman and Bell (2015), the interview method is the prevalent approach to obtaining qualitative data. This research will be complemented by the use of semi-structured interview due to the fact that it allows the interviewer to ask both pre-formulated questions (following the direction set by the RQs), as well as new questions that opportunistically emerge during the interview itself. It could improve the flexibility of the data collection approach and also ensure the consistency as the same time, e.g. through triangulation (Myers, 2009). It is an approach supported by Yin (2014) who points out that interviews can enable research to stay focused on the research topic while gathering a deep insight into the topic under examination. This research is planning to interview a senior marketing manager and two market specialists (both contacts of the researcher). These interviewees can provide an employees’ informed perspective on diversity management with different levels of seniority. The questions will mainly focus on their understanding of diversity management in Honeywell, their attitudes towards diversity management, what they think are the advantages or potential challenges encountered in practice.
Questions will focus on issues such as whether respondents feel that the current diversity policies are sufficient; to what extent they think managing diversity is associating to their working outcome, etc. and will largely be drawn from best practice in recent studies (as above). Moreover, from a research practice point of view, during the interview, it is easier to catch the interviewee’s body language and emotional state, thus ensuring a more rigorous interview process.
5. Chapter Outline
There are six chapters in the dissertation, as follows:
Chapter 1 is the introduction and it will start with giving the key data of inequality in contemporary society to show the necessity of implementing diversity management, and also introduce the background to the study. The chapter also explains the significance of diversity management in the workplace. After that, the research questions will be proposed. This chapter will end with the structure of the whole dissertation.
Chapter 2 covers the literature review. This will provide the definition and debates around diversity management, and lay an overall foundation for the following research. Then, the result of the previous relevant study will be summarised, including the components, implementation approaches, as well as the potential problems and benefits that diversity management could bring to an organisation.
Chapter 3 explains the methodology. This section outlines the overall research design, the kinds of mixed methods used to collect the data (i.e. questionnaires and interviews, and also secondary sources), as well as a rationale as to why those methods are adopted, and the analysis approaches to be used. It will provide the rationale and explain some of the limitations of the selected methods with respect to the project’s overall feasibility.
Chapter 4 presents the findings of data (primary data from interview and questionnaire and secondary data from the company’s website) and provide a preliminary analysis based on the data by using the statistical software (SPSS or Excel).
Chapter 5 focuses on discussing and evaluating the implication of the findings in Chapter 4 and will relate these to the theories and arguments in Chapter 2, ultimately answering the research questions proposed in Chapter 1.
Chapter 6 concludes the dissertation. This part will summarise the key findings of the research, the limitation of this dissertation, and also give some suggestions for further study.
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 Honeywell’s commitment to Inclusion & Diversity: https://www.honeywell.com/us/en/company/inclusionand-diversity
 Honeywell’s corporate website: https://www.honeywell.com/us/en 3 Honeywell’s recognition for diversity in the workplace: