Promoting Diversity - The American Express Way
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Case Code : HROB083
Case Length : 15 Pages
Period : 1981-2006
Pub. Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : American Express Company
Industry : Diversified
Countries : USA
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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.
Diversity at Amex
Diversity was an integral part of the culture at AmEx. AmEx believed that focusing on diversity was one of the ways to gain competitive advantage in the rapidly expanding global markets.
Having a diverse workforce allowed AmEx to obtain a better understanding of the varied markets it operated in. Diversity has been defined in various ways by experts. The narrow definition, the one pertaining to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the US, defined diversity in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, age, religion, and disability. However, over the years the concept of diversity widened to include parameters like marital status, language, sexual orientation and tenure with the organization. AmEx embraced and promoted diversity in the broad sense, and its diversity initiatives covered a large number of groups including women, minorities, senior employees, people with disabilities, and homosexuals...
Despite AmEx's commendable diversity initiatives and the testimony of several satisfied employees, the company did not escape criticism. Over the years, AmEx had become involved in a few controversies related to discrimination.
One of the biggest controversies that the company faced was a class action gender discrimination lawsuit in 1999. During the late 1990s, several female advisors at AEFA complained to the EEOC that the unit's managers discriminated against them on the basis of gender, and showed preferential treatment to white males in terms of assignments, mentoring programs, promotions and compensation. They also said that they faced a sexually hostile environment at AEFA. Although the complainants were from different locations, their complaints were similar. Shirley Krieger from AEFA's New York office said that although she had worked at the unit for more than 13 years, her superiors had been trying to get her to resign saying that she was 'too old'...
Exhibit I: Awards Received by Amex in early 2006
Exhibit II: Annual Financials
Exhibit III: AMEX's Supplier Diversity Policies