How might the lack of diversity at Blueberry be explained and should this be considered as a problem? 2. How would you advise Lennox to help resolve this lack of diversity?
Blueberry is a leading IT and business services consultancy delivering consultancy and outsourcing services and technological business solutions. It currently employs 10,000 people worldwide. Established in the 1974 by three recent university graduates, it has risen to be one of Europe’s most innovative consultancies. It currently has activities in over 40 countries and places great stress on its ability to understand and responds to the needs of its clients or partner needs in any market in any country. Despite their size and origins in the UK where their headquarters remains, Blueberry have sought to position themselves as a global in capability, local in application, combining the best talent from a around the world to deliver tailored solutions to clients’ problems. The company is still headed up by Noah Lennox, one of the original founders of the company (the two other founders have long since left the company, one having had a falling out with Lennox, the other to pursue alternative business opportunities). A key focus of Lennox’s leadership and arguably an integral part of the company’s success has been to create a strong corporate culture centred around Blueberry’s core values (innovation, integrity, respect, quality, value). The company stresses the importance of these corporate values when recruiting new members of staff. Europe and North America have been the main markets for Blueberry in the past but Lennox has recently unveiled ambitious plans for a stronger presence in both South America and the Far East. Integral to these expansion plans is the recruitment of a significantly- increased number of graduate recruits on its graduate development programme.
Typically, Blueberry has focused its graduate recruitment on redbrick universities, reflecting the long-held view that they are the best source of technical graduates. Most of their graduate intake typically comes from 20 universities, although occasionally outstanding candidates from newer universities are accepted on the graduate development programme. In line with the emphasis on the importance placed on person organisation fit and the focus in induction of inculcating core values, Blueberry has tended to prefer to recruit blank canvases who can be moulded into Blueberry people.
Following feedback from clients that Blueberry’s systems developers and designers can often lack the ability to convey complex ideas to non-experts, the company has begun to stress the importance of recruiting new employees on the basis of possessing both technical expertise (which has tended to be the pre-eminent concern) and interpersonal/communication skills. Drawing on this emphasis, Blueberry has developed a competency framework to reflect the ideal employee that provides the basis for HR decisions in the areas of recruitment, learning and development and performance management, which has been rolled out throughout the company. This framework had been based on assessing the characteristics and behaviours of corporate high-flyers.
At a recent meeting, however, one senior manager at a US client joked to Lennox that Blueberry must have a corporate ’cookie cutter’ which they use to produce identikit employees. This has concerned Lennox and he instructed HR to explore the issue of workforce diversity. Initial findings suggest a notable lack of diversity – particularly with regards to age and gender – among the grades of workers that are the visible face of Blueberry and that spend considerable amounts of time of client’s premises, often undertaking international assignments, and are responsible for designing technological solutions to client problems.
1. How might the lack of diversity at Blueberry be explained and should this be considered as a problem?
2. How would you advise Lennox to help resolve this lack of diversity?
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