A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF ORGANISATIONAL SUCCESS THROUGH DIVERSITY: A
CASE OF HYATT INTERNATIONAL
BSc (Honours) Student
Hotel and Tourism Management Institute, Switzerland
In an increasingly global hospitality industry where the mix of international guests and
international employees is growing, diversity management is an important contemporary
issue for researchers. Understanding diversity management generally increases inter- and
intra-personal relationship skills, which are motivational facets for agents within an
organisation. This research is qualitative in nature using secondary data collection methods.
The Hyatt International is used as an example of effective diversity management. In order to
obtain and analyse the results of the research, the author has critically applied Hyatt
International‟s diversity management programme to theories postulated in literature. The
research findings conclude that effective diversity management in organisations eventually
leads to success. The problem of diversity in organisations is that it is sensitive in nature,
due to the fact that it deals with how and why groups and individuals differ from each other.
The author concludes this research by highlighting that poor diversity management may lead
towards higher employee turnover and low employee satisfaction. The author suggests
strategies for further research in this field for those with a vested interest.
Diversity is a holistic term based on recognizing all kinds of difference. It is about „valuing
everyone as an individual‟ (Armstrong 2006:868).
In this fast growing world an efficient work force has become a basic necessity of every
organisation. Businesses also have to cultivate an atmosphere of positive diversity within
their structures to avoid risk, stemming from an atmosphere perceived as hostile to
cultural/lifestyle differences. While in search for an efficient labour force from the available
labour pool, organisations usually conclude in globalising. This understanding of
globalization will help organizations increase diversification in their workforce, which would
then force the organizations to understand different cultures. “Improvement and
management of people on a global scale inevitably requires dealing with cultural diversity
and the problems regarding these matters of motivation, leadership, authority and
productivity” (Selmer 2002, cited in Seymen, 2006:297).
Hyatt International adopts various approaches to create a workplace that encourages and
supports diversity. Hyatt's "Creating an Inclusive Culture" diversity training, officially
launched in 2007, has been empowering employees and executives at all levels so that they
can more productively correspond with co-workers and guests (Hyatt Diversity Newsletter
2008). A new initiative adopted by Hyatt International is not only changing the way
employees are trained, developed and engaged in the workplace, but also shifting the way
people view Hyatt as an advocate for diverse groups. For example, „Women at Hyatt‟,
established in March 2007, has defined their vision as „Leading Women Worldwide in
Business and Travel‟ (ibid).
According to Kirton and Greene (2007), changes in the pattern of disadvantages in the
labour market can only arise through a radical revision of the dogmatic model of work. This
model, based around the white, male, full-time, non-disabled and heterosexual worker, does
not give enough space for the growth of diversity, does not attempt to accommodate and
integrate difference. Dunning (1981) argues that, as multinational corporations (MNCs)
operate across global borders, business managers have acknowledged that the increasing
globalisation of the world economy has allowed MNCs greater access to wider consumer
markets and distribution networks, as well as to coordinate production and business
transactions within economic clusters involving internal and external cross border
This wider consumer markets expect the MNCs to serve them with quality guest service.
Thus, in order to satisfy their customers, MNCs are often forced to hire diversified
workforces which better understand the wants and needs of customers. Thus, understanding
diversity better serves the global markets to better manage their labour pool and hence
sustain their business.
WORKPLACE DIVERSITY AND SUCCESS FACTORS
According to Schneider and Holman (2005, cited in Baum et al, 2007) governments in the
contemporary world are increasingly recognising the benefits of labour migration to a
country‟s economy. Migrant workers can be beneficial to the economy in a multitude of
ways, primarily because they are able to fill gaps in the domestic labour market and alleviate
skills shortages. Many multinational organisations, in order to stay ahead of their
competitors, seek a talented labour force and look to talented migrant workers. There is now
greater diversity within and between workforces than ever before and this trend is expected
to continue well into the 21st century. Managers in public and private organizations are
searching for and experimenting with various approaches to more effectively deal with
increasing workforce diversity.
“Diversity is taking people from different backgrounds, with different expectations and at
different stages of life and moulding them into a force that will drive the company‟s
profitability and competitiveness” (Schneider and Barsoux 2003:277). Unfortunately many
companies do not think about diversity and cultural differences as a source of competitive
advantage. Efforts to address the issue of diversity get dismissed by a considering that it is
very difficult to manage and not practicable in all organisations and nations (ibid).
In the 1990‟s a growing trend has been for firms to hire diversity consultants to improve the
"diversity profile of the firm." Although diversity management is an important area, little
research evaluating the effectiveness of programs is presented or conducted by third
parties. There would be less scepticism and cynicism about diversity management if more
third-party evaluation studies and analysis were available. By „third-party‟ is meant a single
person or a team of researchers who are not conducting or consulting on diversity
management programs. The politics of diversity management have become so arduous and
strident that there is increasing scepticism about research findings. Being a diversity
management trainer or consultant is admirable and can be very beneficial, but it should be a
indicator to be especially cautious in reviewing the results of the research offered by these
According to Cox and Blake (1991) cultural diversity helps in many different aspects,
including increased ability to respond to cultural preferences of local markets and increased
ability to recruit employees of different national backgrounds. Cultural diversity also reduces
the cost incurred by turnover of non-home country managers, improves decision-making
through having a wider range of perspectives and leads to more through critical analysis.
Finally, cultural diversity enhances organisational flexibility and responsiveness to multiple
demands and changing environments. A diversified labour pool serves as a key to present
quality guest service and improved productivity for organisations, especially a hospitality
organisation (Martin, 2006).
Today‟s hospitality business requires more creativity, innovations and a talented workforce,
to help organizations to achieve success rapidly. Diversity is used as one of the tools for
managers to achieve success by attaining their goals and objectives promptly. According to
Jackson, Joshi and Erhardt (2003, cited in Robbins and Judge, 2008) most team activities
require a variety of skills and knowledge. Given this requirement, it would be reasonable to
conclude that heterogeneous teams (those composed of dissimilar individuals) would be
more likely to have diverse abilities and information and would be more effective. Research
studies generally substantiate this conclusion, especially on cognitive, creativity-demanding
Diversity is about unlocking the potential for excellence among all workers by providing them
with the tools, resources and opportunities they need to succeed (Crockett, 1999). Crockett
argues that if companies are to be successful in an ever-changing environment, they must
view diversity as a business strategy that will distinguish them from the competition.
Companies such as IBM became famous for intentionally grouping people of different
backgrounds on the same projects, to better cultivate a team spirit among those of varying
cultures (Matthewman et al, 2009).
In today‟s global economy, where companies in different countries do business regularly and
the Internet gives even the smallest business the potential to have a global presence,
embracing a diverse workforce has become more necessary than ever. It is not intended to
guarantee the integration of minorities in a dominant culture, but to challenge managerial
practices so that everyone can succeed by being true to him/herself. Diversity was created
due to a globalising world. Globalisation served in many good ways for the organisations in
creating more creative ideas, making production more effective and increasing profit. These
factors serve as reasons for the development of diversity worldwide.
DIVERSITIES AND DIFFICULTIES
A number of critiques have emerged about approaches to managing diversity. Cassell and
Biswas (2000, cited in Redman and Wilkinson, 2009) suggest that much of the literature that
exists on the subject is largely theoretical. According to Matthewman et al (2009)
understanding the difference between equal opportunities and diversity lies mainly in
differentiating between external and internal organisational drivers. Dubrin (2006) argues
that the word diversity has two subtypes, one is demographic and the other on is cultural.
Cultural diversity refers to the mix of cultures and sub-cultures to which the organizations‟
workforce belongs. Whereas demographic subtype refers to factors such as age, sex,
religion, physical status and sexual orientation. Workplace diversity is not prized simply
because it is pleasant to have different groups working next to one another, but because
these groups work together as a team to serve a variety of customers, and to generate a
wide variety of useful ideas (ibid). This might be very systematic but in an actual working
environment, understanding other cultures, and demographic subtypes is very difficult. To
appreciate diversity, a person must go beyond tolerating and fairly treating people from
different racial and ethnic groups. How individual hospitality companies demonstrate or
develop cultural awareness varies considerably. In many cases nothing whatever is done to
accommodate the needs of other cultures. For example, staff may not be able to speak other
languages and menus may not be translated even where significant numbers of foreign
customers are served. This can result in reduced quality of service, thereby resulting in a
loss of employee motivation, which in turn affects the productivity of the organization.
Theories and techniques of diversity management have been developed and enthusiastically
supported by a growing number of chief executive officers, training specialists, diversity
consultants, and academics. The 1998 summer issue of Public Personnel Management
presented a diversity symposium that included theories, case studies, and examples of
diversity management that supports the vision that if managed well, diversity can help
improve organizational effectiveness (Albrecht, 2001).
Boella and Turner (2007) separate values, attitudes and behaviour. Values are defined as
that which individuals place in society, social status, religion and an individuals‟ concerns for
others. So, an individual needs to be tolerant, caring, should value collective efforts and
should not be concerned with material wealth to work in a multicultural organisation.
Secondly, individual‟s attitudes towards work, authority, those in subordinate social classes
are some of the features, as are views towards sex, alcohol, food and meals, and time.
Thirdly, behaviour, which consists of relationships at work, manner of dressing, importance
of work, personal space, forms of address, non-verbal communication (gestures and body
language) and meetings and conversations. Negativity begins only when particular
individuals fail to be positive in these aspects.
Hofstede (2001, cited in Baum 2007) identified five major dimensions as the key to cultural
differences and applied these dimensions to approximately forty countries worldwide. Firstly,
“power distance” which means the distribution of power in an equal or unequal manner
within the organization. Many employees in European organisations are following a less
intensive power distance model. Whereas in many Middle East and Asian countries, a high
power distance method is being followed. The practice of high or low power distance will not
harm an organisation unless or until it does not consist of a mixed cultural group. This
means if an organisation consists of high power distance model, it should also have very
less diversified workforce, due to the fact that people from western countries might not be
cooperative with the high power distance method.
Secondly, “uncertainty avoidance” reflects a society‟s fear of the unknown and the extent to
which uncertainty generates comfort or discomfort in its members. Countries like Denmark,
Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom are some of the examples of low uncertainty
avoidance cultures. Organisations in these countries do not have many rules and regulations
to avoid uncertainty. Whereas countries like Japan, Germany, and some countries in Middle
East have high uncertainty avoidance levels. Organisations in these countries have a set of
rules and follow them according to the forecasted problems. Again, being in any of these two
forms does benefit employees, but the problem persists only when they begin to mix. An
employee who is used to low uncertainty avoidance might find difficulties working in a high
uncertainty avoidance atmosphere and vice versa. But it can also be argued that people
prefer different things from what they have been used to so far in their day-to-day life. In
such cases those who have come from high uncertainty avoidance area might like to work in
low uncertainty avoidance environments.
Hofstede‟s third dimension is “individualism and collectivism”. Individualistic societies are
those who are expected to care for themselves with the emphasis based on individual
achievement. In individualistic societies, managers prefer to maintain social and
professional distance from their subordinates. On the other hand, collectivistic societies
care for everybody in an organisation. Collectivistic society has a need to form strong groups
through alliances, seeking harmony at work, consensus at meetings and group decision-
making. Hofstede argues that individualistic and collectivistic characteristics do not depend
upon culture; instead they depend upon individual perceptions.
The fourth dimension is a “masculinity-feminist” duality. In masculine countries,
characteristics include male stereotypes such as competitiveness, individual advancement,
materialism, profit, assertiveness, and considerable distance between male and female roles
in society. By contrast, feminine attributes include cooperation, warm relationships, caring
and nurturing, life-quality factors and a merging of male and female roles in society.
The fifth dimension is the “long-term orientation”. This dimension addresses the business
and personal perspective of cultures in terms of their goals achievement. Typically, Asian
cultures such as those of China and Japan appear to exhibit a greater willingness to invest
over time in order to achieve their objectives. By contrast, Northern Europe and North
America include countries where short-term objectives and achievements are valued.
As with any analysis of this kind, Hofstede‟s theoretical model must be treated with some
caution as an analytical framework and not as a precise programme for the management of
staff from different countries. A final important issue to consider is the extent to which the
business case on which managing diversity is based, holds any weight in relation to equal
opportunities. Prasad and Mills (1997, cited in Redman and Wilkinson, 2009, p.352)
“The economic showcasing of diversity is both credible and persuasive to
the public. However, the underlying economic assumptions of that case are
drawn from human capital theories where people are treated explicitly as
economic resources, with their skills, qualifications and characteristics
having potential value for the firms that employ them.”
Mitigating risk from diversity-based disputes involves far more than reviewing hiring
practices. It requires examining the image a business presents to the outside community, as
well as the atmosphere cultivated within. Recognition of modern-day complications is so
universal that even those companies who have 'gotten it' when it comes to non-
discriminatory practices are questioning whether they can do better, better protecting
themselves from further risk.
Diversity management and its consequences are so important that a new agenda with an
emphasis on civility, respect, compassion, theory building, research study, and practical
application is necessary. The elevation of diversity management strategies can occur
because they are important to organizations and to society.
Diversity is a tool for successful business establishments but at the same time, it may also
act as a factor for failure when mismanaged. Diversity management should be analysed and
managed according to the situation and individuals. This is the reason for diversity
management being a complex notion.
DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME AT HYATT INTERNATIONAL
A business needs every edge it can acquire. Besides the experience that people of other
cultures can provide, business also has a larger pool of potential employees if diversity is
embraced. That benefit alone can be immensely valuable to the organisation. Opportunity
exists all around, but sometimes it takes someone from another culture to point it out
(Suite101 2008). Many companies have experienced success with diversity programs, for
example, IBM, Proctor & Gamble, Wisconsin Power, Light Chevron Corporation and the
Boeing Company (Tetteh, 2008).
According to Salvador Mendoza, director of diversity at Hyatt Hotels, it is possible to
leverage diversity to the bottom line (Miller, 2009). He argues that multicultural initiatives are
bottom-line issues. Organisations have to be sensitive to the needs of employees and they
have to make money and, Mendoza argues, both can be achieved while promoting a
multicultural environment. Diversity is one of Hyatt‟s greatest core values. Hyatt‟s goal for
diversity is “To lead our industry by being an employer and hospitality company of choice for
an increasingly diverse population” (Clarke and Chen, 2007).
One of the most fascinating aspects of Hyatt‟s approach is the way it has instituted a
“Diversity Council” consisting of 24 employees/managers signifying various sections of the
company. The Council meets three times a year to discuss issues related to diversity to
establish how well the company is recognising the subject along with an assessment of the
strategies that are set out to assist in the full inclusion of all minorities (Ibid). A new initiative
at Hyatt is not only changing the way employees are trained, developed and engaged in the
workplace, but also shifting the way people view Hyatt as an advocate for diverse groups.
Hyatt ranked 18th was cited as the second most diverse workforce (Clarke and Chen 2007).
Hyatt's "Creating an Inclusive Culture" diversity training programme, launched in 2007, has
been empowering employees and executives at all levels so that they can more successfully
communicate with co-workers and guests. In three-hour workshops, participating employees
are asked to examine their own past experiences and look into how events may have
subconsciously affected their attitudes and actions (Hyatt Diversity, 2008). With four
generations in today's workplace, almost any age combination of co-workers is possible,
which can lead to confusion, conflict and misunderstandings that reduce productivity.
Hyatt International pursues several steps that can be practiced to reduce the diversity gap
(Hyatt Diversity, 2008). First, encouraging the team to be open, asking questions, listening
and interacting in supportive and non-judgmental ways would be more productive. Second,
trying an exercise in reverse mentoring, that is asking a younger person to give an older
colleague advice on ways to be more effective, then repeating the exercise in the traditional
way. The advice from both directions will be rewarding. This way of learning is called
“creation of awareness” in Hyatt‟s diversity management culture. Third, Hyatt motivates
members of their team to recognize the strength generational diversity brings to the
workplace. Hyatt believes that the energy and enthusiasm of youth combined with the
wisdom that comes with experience is a powerful combination that can propel any hotel
forward. Many believe respect must be earned, but it also should never be denied because
In this way, Hyatt International gives opportunity for their employees to be open minded and
be accepting for opinions and ideas from others. Gaining a creative pathway for the
employees would in return create a workplace that is more rewarding for all members of the
team. According Clarke and Chen (2007) the management of diversity can be looked at in
two main ways that correspond to our thinking about the development of globalisation; one is
convergent and the other is divergent. When thinking, ideas and culture within society are
synonymous to an individual‟s thought, this process is called convergent. Meanwhile, when
the individual is becomes increasingly different in every above-mentioned sense, this would
be termed divergent. From research by Clarke and Chen (2007), it is mentioned that Hyatt
International is very “divergent” in their approach to diversity. Hyatt International tailor each
property to suit its surroundings and encourage their employees to use the differing cultures
and forms of diversity to aid the corporation in expanding their knowledge and
understanding, which is of major importance when recruiting and employing staff for an
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The investigation of the development of diversity in organisations to achieve success has
come along a very long way. In the 1960s‟ the American government, under the leadership
of President Johnson, introduced the concept of affirmative action with the aim of correcting
the wrongs caused by hundreds of years of slavery and segregation (Tetteh, 2008). This is
how diversity management started. The exploration of complexities concerned in a
diversified working environment has been successfully investigated through Hofstede‟s five
dimensions of diversified workforce model.
These dimensions can be exceeded if diversity management is followed and managed in an
appropriate manner. The decision should also ensure that future graduates of higher
education remain diverse, so employers will be compelled to hire fairly within that base.
While big companies have resources to incorporate risk-adverse diversity programs, many
have a vice president who focuses solely on the issue. Small and medium-sized businesses
often do not (Redman and Wilkinson, 2009). The critical application of Hyatt International‟s
diversity management programme to micro organisations was also successfully applied.
The proper management of diversity helps in organizational success, which was thought to
be obstinate in the past. An example of Hyatt International‟s diversity management program
has also been examined successfully. Qualitative research, broadly defined, means "any
kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or
other means of quantification" (Strauss and Corbin, 1990:17) and instead, the kind of
research that produces findings arrived from real-world settings where the "phenomenon of
interest unfold naturally" (Patton, 2002:39). Other researchers interested in this study may
be advised to gather additional information‟s on Hyatt International‟s diversity management
program. The author of this research paper had some difficulties in gathering data and
information about Hyatt International due to time constraints. In any qualitative research, the
aim is to "engage in research that probes for deeper understanding rather than examining
surface features” (Johnson, 1995:4). The research design used in this research paper is
through case studies on Hyatt International.
The present study makes important theoretical contributions to the understanding of
hospitality services. Nevertheless, it has certain limitations, which have to be taken into
account when interpreting the findings. The main limitation of the study is the use of Hyatt
International alone as an example of a successful organisation following diversity
Armstrong, M. (2006), Human Resource Management Practice, 10th Edition, Great Britain:
Cambridge University Press.
Albrecht, MH. (2001), International HRM, Place Unknown: Wiley-Blackwell.
Baum, T. (2007), Human Resource Management for Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure.
Baum, T. Dutton, E. Karimi, S. Kokkranikal, J. Devine, F. and Hearns, N. (2007). Cultural
Diversity in Hospitality Work, Cross Culture Management: An International Journal, 14 (5)
Boella, M. and Turner, SG. (2007), Human Resource Management in Hospitality Industry,
8th Edition, United Kingdom: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Clarke, A. and Chen, W. (2007), International Hospitality Management, United Kingdom:
Cox, TH. and Blake, S. (1991), Managing Cultural Diversity: Implications for Organizational
Competitiveness, Academy of Management Executive, 5(3) pp. 45-46.
Crockett, J. (1999), Diversity as a Business Strategy. Management Review, 88(5) pp. 62.
Dubrin, AJ. (2006), Essentials of Management, 7th ed. Canada: Thomson-South-Western.
Dunning, JH. (1981), International Production and Multinational Enterprise, London: Allen
Hyatt Diversity Newsletter, (2008), Melange, Available from: <http://hyattmelange.
com/index.php?sid=30> Accessed 24 September 2008.
Johnson, SD. (1995), Will our Research Hold up Under Scrutiny? Journal of Industrial
Teacher Education, 32(3) pp. 3-6.
Kirton, G. and Greene, A. (2007), The Dynamics of Managing Diversity: A Critical Approach,
2nd Edition, Hungary: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Martin, G. (2006), Managing People and Organisations in Changing Contexts, UK:
Matthewman, LR. and Hetherington, A. (2009), Work Psychology, New York: Oxford
Miller, JE. (2009), Supervision in the Hospitality Industry, Place Unknown: John Willey and
Patton, MQ. (2002). Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods, 3rd Edition, Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Redman, T. and Wilkinson, A. (2009), Contemporary Human Resource Management, 3rd
Edition, UK: Prentice Hall.
Robbins, SP. and Judge, TA. (2008), Essentials of Organisational Behaviour, 9th Edition,
New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Schneider, SC. and Barsoux, JL. (2003), Managing Across Cultures, 3rd Edition, England:
Seymen, OA. (2006), The Cultural Diversity Phenomenon in Organizations and Different
Approaches for Effective Cultural Diversity Management: A Literary Review, Cross Culture
Management: An International Journal, 13 (4) pp. 296-315.
Strauss, A. and Corbin, J. (1990), Basics of Qualitative Research: Grounded Theory
Procedures and Techniques, Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Suite101.com, (2008), Advantages of Cultural Diversity in a Business, Available from:
usiness> [Accessed 4 November 2008]
Tetteh, VA. (2008), Diversity in the Workplace. Ph.D. Thesis, Buckingham University.