Ian was a senior analyst at a major hotel company. Although Ian worked mostly in corporate headquarters, he would occasionally
travel to the field where he met with front-line employees and learned what was on their minds.
On a trip to Portland, Ian had the chance to speak with two people working at the front desk about what it was like to work at the
hotel. Daniel, the younger of the two had joined the staff recently; Ellen, the other employee (and Daniel’s supervisor), had been
with the company for almost 15 years. Both employees seemed particularly interested in talking with Ian because they rarely got a
chance to talk directly to anyone from headquarters.
As the three discussed changes in the hospitality industry, Ellen and Daniel complained about their company’s aggressive cost
control initiatives, spearheaded by the charismatic but frugal CEO, whose policies were occasionally unpopular. After a few more
minutes of conversation, Ellen casually said, “The CEO is so tight with a buck, I wonder if he is Jewish.”
As a Jewish person, Ian did not know how to react. He had never actually experienced anything like this before, especially in a
professional setting. Ian’s instinct was not to be combative or hostile, but he felt a bit like a deer caught in the headlights.
Daniel looked a little surprised at his supervisor’s remark, but, laughing, he quickly changed the subject. Smiling, Ian made an
excuse to end or discussion and walk away.
The next day Ian woke up still bothered by Ellen’s remark. While checking out, he saw Daniel at the front desk. Ian mentioned to him
that he may want to tell his supervisor to watch her remarks about other peoples’ ethnicity, to which Daniel replied, “I know what
you mean because I am Puerto Rican, but I think that she meant it as a joke.” Ian could see that Daniel just wanted to smooth the
On the ride to the airport, Ian kept thinking about what he might do. Should he report Ellen to Human Resources? The company had a
process in place for such matters, but he was worried. Ian did not know who he was dealing with; maybe Ellen would retaliate if he
said something, especially since she would know who filed the complaint. Plus, Ian was not sure what the consequences would be – he
didn’t want to get her fired. Ian only wanted Ellen to know how offensive the comments were.
As a team, consider what steps Ian should take.
What are the concerns facing Ian?
What should Ian do and why?
What is the outcome of Ian’s response to the situation?
If Ian reports Ellen, what happens then?
If Ian does not report Ellen, what is the struggle within Ian’s mind?
Please answer the above 5 questions based on these:
1. Cultural diversity in the workplace
2. Approach Ellen
3. Situation may be escalated to management if Ellen is not willing to hear Ian out, or change her behavior.
4. Regulate the management of workplace diversity and hold them accountable.
5. Ian would feel that other employees might already have concerns with Ellen’s insensitive jokes but no one to speak up for them.