Training for Tolerance: An Examination into the Effects of Diversity Training on Social Capital Potential in Five Star Hotels

Helen Conomos

This study considers the role which diversity training can play in social capital value realisation in hospitality industry firms - specifically 5 Star hotels operating in metropolitan Sydney - and the factors that serve to enhance or inhibit the positive potential of such training as a source of competitive advantage.  Given globalisation and the shift to a knowledge and service economy, training interventions of this type are said to be assuming increasing importance as a source of organisational success and sustainability, especially in the highly competitive hospitality industry.

This research contributes to diversity management scholarship by exploring the social aspects surrounding the concept of diversity.  These include concepts such as trust, knowledge exchange/information sharing and developments in service quality.  Drawing on a multi-stakeholder mix of qualitative and quantitative evidence, the study first compares diversity training presence across four 5 Star Sydney metropolitan hotels.  It then undertakes a detailed comparison of levels of organisational trust, knowledge exchange and service quality across each hotel.

This study reveals that hotels that placed a stronger emphasis on diversity training were also found to concurrently experience higher levels of trust, knowledge exchange and service quality than those hotels that were found to have minimal diversity training initiatives in place.  The evidence also reveals that in order for organisations to be successful in the implementation of a diversity training program, employees should not only be informed of the potential benefits of diversity for organisations and their individual members but, equally importantly, that this rhetoric should also be transformed into a practical reality for employees.  This transformation of diversity rhetoric into reality is signified by visible changes in employees' beliefs, behaviour and attitudes toward diversity as well as the provision of equal access to promotions and evidence that the glass ceiling is being dismantled.

Consequently, this study reveals that well-implemented diversity training programs - that is, programs whose benefits are clearly communicated to staff and that have both rhetorical and practical outcomes for an organisation - stand to have a positive influence on organisational trust, learning and ultimately performance.  As such, the findings of this study affirm the business case for the positive, systematic and proactive management of workforce diversity.

Supervisors

Associate Professor John Sheilds and Associate Professor Marian Baird

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