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Organizational Culture and Organizational Change

Building a Culture for Inclusion at Whirlpool

Approximately 60 percent of the employees of Michigan-based Whirlpool Corporation, the world’s

largest manufacturer of home appliances, are located outside of North America. Even within

North America, the company has a rich multicultural mix of employees. Diversity and inclusion are

central to Whirlpool Corporation’s goal of placing its appliances in “every home, everywhere”—a vision

that guides its employees around the world.58 Whirlpool believes that acknowledging its diversity and

practicing inclusiveness allows it to utilize all employees’ unique strengths to increase Whirlpool’s

productivity, profit, and performance.

“At Whirlpool, we best serve the unique needs of our customers through diverse, inclusive and engaged

employees who truly reflect our global customer base,” says Jeff Fettig, chairman and CEO.59 Because

diverse employees help provide a keen under-standing of its diverse global customers’ needs, diversity

and inclusion are encouraged throughout the organization. Whirlpool views diversity as about being

different, and inclusion as the respectful involvement of all people and making use of everyone’s

talents. Whirlpool believes that differences create value, and they practice inclusion because it enables

the company to best respond to the needs of its diverse customers.

Senior leaders make inclusion a top priority. A diversity council oversees the efforts of the corporate

diversity network, and a diversity network mentoring program addresses the needs of new hires. The

company also hosted a diversity summit to dis-cuss building a culture of inclusion.

Whirlpool understands that its leaders must first show an understanding of and interest in

diversity before it can become part of the company culture. to involve busy senior leadership and

middle management in the company’s diversity efforts, it creates short five- to ten-minute podc3asts

that report on the company’s diversity initiatives, and gives iPod Shuffles to upper management so that

they can listen to these programs while on the go. Executives can also print them out as short, two-page

papers. A diversity and inclusion “lunch and learn” series, hosted by the employee-based diversity

networks, offers a comfortable environment to generate discussion among peers. The engagement of

Whirlpool’s leaders has stimulated positive change throughout the organization.

Whirlpool integrated diversity and inclusion into its business in three phases:

1. Awareness building: Whirlpool began by building the business case for diversity in a changing

consumer marketplace, and then delivered that message along with diversity training to the company’s

approximately 18,000 employees.

2. Building competency and capacity: Next, it developed tools to enable senior man-agers to effectively

manage a global workforce and build employee engagement.

3. Embedding best practices: After training managers and employees, Whirlpool wove best practices

into the fabric of the organization. It began by previewing the company’s diversity strategy for new

employees and continued through the development of an educational development curriculum that

prepares senior managers to effectively manage a multicultural workforce.

Whirlpool’s slogan even reflects its culture of diversity: “the only thing more diverse than our products,

are the people who create them.” Whirlpool was among Diversity Inc.’s top 10 Companies for Lesbian

Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Employees in 2007. In addition, Whirlpool has received a 100

percent rating in the human rights Campaign Corporate Equality index.

Questions:

1. Do you agree that Whirlpool can realize a competitive advantage through its diverse employees?

2. How else can technology be used to enhance Whirlpool’s culture of inclusion?

3. Do you feel that Whirlpool’s efforts to create a culture of inclusion are worthwhile? Explain your

answer.

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