at incorporating diversity and providing opportunities
Fenwick is a family-owned chain of department stores located in the United Kingdom. The eponymous company has its origins in Newcastle upon Tyne when founder John James Fenwick opened this first store in 1882. Currently, the company is chaired by direct descendant Mark Fenwick. The flagship store serves as the corporate headquarters for the other ten branches. The company is currently valued GBP 452 million (Fenwick, 2015).
Each of Fenwick’s stores are independently run by a management team that targets their own markets by offering their own chosen products and brands. Each store is responsible for its own recruitment. Employees are also trained in-house in offering the Fenwick’s level of service. This makes both recruitment and training key success factors for the company. (Abnett, 2015).
Part One: Research Questions and Objectives
Since Fenwick stores are independently from one another, store managers are responsible for the most of the human resources management functions such as recruitment and selection, and employee training. With that leeway, there is a danger that the company suffers from inconsistent HR policies and practices. Are there gaps in Fenwick’s recruitment and selection, and training strategies in the context of diversity and provision of equal opportunities?
The objectives of the research are the following:
Part Two: Review of Related Literature
Strategic hiring decisions are essential to an organization’s competitive position. A person who is hired pursuant to an appropriate process will exceed established performance standards. The cost associated with a poor hiring process can be high. An effective recruitment and selection process can result to increased productivity, less staff turnover, better engagement and job satisfaction, which all lead to higher profitability (Vickers, et.al, 2014). Most companies now formulate detailed and comprehensive recruitment plans, relying on both internal and external recruitment and selection to fulfill human capital requirements (Al-Horr & Sali, 2011).
Diversity is a component of effective recruitment and selection. Increased diversity among employees results in an intellectual and cultural resources capacity to tackles organizational tasks. A diverse workforce can come up with fresher ideas and a globalized perspective of how things work. (Herring, 2012). Developing diversity initiatives in human resource management necessitates onboarding from all levels of the organization. (Rosenberg, et.al, 2011).
There are many strategies that can be used to diversify recruitment and selection processes. Job requirements should be evaluated and modified to make them more accessible to a more diverse set of candidates. The competency framework being used should also be more gender neutral. (Evans, 2012). Furthermore, policies in where and how recruitment happens should be broadened to target minority groups. Finally interview questions and tests should be developed in such a manner that respect difference and provide equal opportunities for everyone concerned. (Syamala & Devi, 2015)
Training and development is another component of strategic human resources management. It is necessary to constantly upgrade employee skills and competencies to be able to keep up with the demands of a changing business environment. The key is to offering equal training opportunities to employees (Mariani, et.al, 2013).
It has been well-documented that there is a lack of equal training opportunities for groups of employees, such as women. This can be costly to an organization because the lack of equal opportunities limits their ability to recognize and take advantage of opportunities that can be critical to organizational performance (Davis, 2012).
Synthesizing the current literature on human resources management has led to some research gaps in the body of knowledge. There is still currently limited research in the area of diversity management. Thus, ideological flaws are still quite common. There is an urgent need to reframe the way diversity management practices are conceptualized and implemented. This can be done by identifying the best practices in diversity recruitment and selection initiatives. Furthermore, there is an urgency to develop policies for equal opportunities in training and development. The cost and impact of unequal training opportunities can reverberate on national economic scale. Initiatives have to be taken to prevent loss of growth potential.
Part Three: Research Methodology
This research involves a mixed methods approach that comes qualitative analysis with quantitative techniques. A mixed method approach is often used when the research questions are multidimensional in nature. The research method is three-fold. The first stage involves a qualitative analysis of the current state of the human resource management practices of Fenwick’s. The second stage will assess employee and management perception on the recruitment and selection, and training practices within Fenwick’s. This part will be carried out using quantitative survey techniques. The final stage is to flesh out the understanding of the survey by giving it context through qualitatively surveying the different stakeholders of the company. Best practices across the different stores will also be documented so that they could be replicated elsewhere.
Part Four: Data Collection and Analysis
Several type of data will be collected throughout the research process. Secondary data, primary quantitative data and primary qualitative data will be collected in the first, second and third stages, respectively.
A document review will be carried out to assess if current policies include diversity initiative in the recruitment and selection process and whether there are equal opportunities in training and development. Documents from the corporate headquarters and each of stores will be assessed. Content analysis will determine strengths, gaps and inconsistencies.
For the second stage, a questionnaire will be developed to act as the research instrument. The questionnaire will evaluate employee agreement on indicators of diversity and equal opportunity. It will use a five point Likert rating scale anchored on levels of agreement. An example of a question would be: Fenwick’s job recruitment ads do not indicate a preferred gender 5- strongly agree, 4-moderately agree, 3- agree, 2- moderately disagree, 1-strongly disagree.
Administration of the questionnaire will utilize a sampling method. Sample size will be calculated using Slovin’s formula for known population. Disproportionate stratified techniques will utilized two ways. The first calculation will be based on the number of employees per store. Bigger stores with a bigger number of employees will more representation in the sample compared to the smaller store. After calculating the sample size proportion per store, it will then be further segmented based on position. Proportions will be calculated to represent those in rank and file, supervisory, and managerial positions. Responses will be analyzed through statistical means
The final stage of the research will involve conducting expert interviews with key personnel as well as focus group discussions to get the respondents opinions and insights, as well as document any existing best practice in the area of diversity recruitment and equal opportunity training. Key informant interviews (KII) will be conducted with executives that are running the corporate headquarters to solidify information regarding the company’s long-term business strategy, its standpoint on the topics being researched and to get an overall picture of how things are being done.
A focus group discussion (FGD) with the store managers will be held to identify strategies, issues and practices at the individual store level. Mangers will be able to give plenty of insight because HR practices such as recruitment and training are localized to each store. Respondents can share what is being done in their store, specific issues that have come up and how they were able to solve these issues.
The last focus group will be with store employees. Questions will be asked about their recruitment experience, the training that they receive and issues within those context. This will be a chance for them to air any concerns about these particular HR functions.
Part Five: Problems and Limitations
Document analysis will be limited to whatever the company is willing to give. It is expected that extremely confidential data will either be redacted from the documents. While creates a bias in the analysis, it is a fact of life in business research. Getting honest and candid responses might also be an issues since the people are still current employees of Fenwick’s. This can be resolve by briefing respondents before data gathering. They will be assured that everything will be kept confidential and no individual names will appear in the paper.
Part Six: Main Tasks and Time Scale
This research proposal attempts to analyze whether Fenwick practices diversity in the recruitment and selection process. Furthermore, it aims to find out if employees are given equal opportunities to grow through training and development. Using a mixed methods approach, the research will review company documents, administer a quantitative survey and conduct FGDs and KIIs. Expected results include the identification gaps and inconsistencies in the two HR processes, frequency tables and charts illustrating the results of the survey and a discussion of key themes. It is hoped that Fenwick will use this research to further refine and improve on their current strategies.
Abnett, K. 2015. “The Curious Case of Fenwick Bond Street” Available from http://www.busin essoffashion.com/articles/intelligence/curious-case-fenwick-bond-street [12 June 2015).
Al-Horr, K. & Salih, A.H. 2011, "Convergence or Diversity in National Recruitment and Selection Practices: A Case Study of the State of Qatar", The Journal of Business Diversity, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 47-55.
Davis, P.J. 2012, "The global training deficit: the scarcity of formal and informal professional development opportunities for women entrepreneurs", Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 19-25.
Evans, C. 2012, "Recruitment initiatives aimed at increasing the gender diversity within ITEC employment", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. 31, no. 8, pp. 741-752.
Fenwick 2015, “Our Story” Available from http://www.fenwick.co.uk/about/our-story/ [12 June 2015]
Herring, C. 2012, "Diversity = Dollars ", Americas Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 68-72.
Mariani, M.G., Curcuruto, M. & Gaetani, I. 2013, "Training opportunities, technology acceptance and job satisfaction", Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 25, no. 7, pp. 455-475.
Rosenberg, Lisa,PhD., R.N. & O'Rourke, Marilyn E, DNP, RN 2011, "The Diversity Pyramid: An Organizational Model to Structure Diversity Recruitment and Retention in Nursing Programs", Journal of Nursing Education, vol. 50, no. 10, pp. 555-560.
Syamala, G. & Devi, R.T. 2015, "A Study of Gender Discrimination at Campus Recruitment in the Professional Colleges",Journal of Commerce and Management Thought, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 323-339.
Vickers, G., McDonald, M. & Grimes, J. 2014, "A cross country comparison of best practices in recruitment and selection",Journal of Management and Marketing Research, vol. 15, pp. 1-9.