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HY Dairies - Perceptual error in the workplace

Case Analysis
Syd Gilman read the latest sales figures with a great deal of satisfaction. The vice president of marketing at Hy Dairies, Inc., a large Midwestern milk products manufacturer, was pleased to see that the marketing campaign to improve sagging sales of Hy's gourmet ice cream brand was working. Sales volume and market share of the product had in-creased significantly over the past two quarters compared with the previous year.
The improved sales of Hy's gourmet ice cream could be credited to Rochelle Beauport, who was assigned to the gourmet ice cream brand last year. Beauport had joined Hy less than two years ago as an assistant brand manager after leaving a similar job at a food products firm. She was one of the few women of color in marketing management at Hy Dairies and had a promising career with the company. Gilman was pleased with Beauport's work and tried to let her know this in annual performance reviews. He now had an excellent opportunity to reward her by offering her the recently vacated position of market research coordinator. Although technically only a lateral transfer with a modest salary increase, the marketing research coordinator job would give Beauport broader experience in some high- profile work, which would enhance her career with Hy Dairies. Few people were aware that Gilman's own career had been boosted by working as marketing research coordinator at Hy several years before. Rochelle Beauport had also seen the latest sales figures on Hy's gourmet ice cream and was expecting Gilman's call to meet with her that morning. Gilman began the conversation by briefly mentioning the favorable sales figures, and then explained that he wanted Beauport to take the marketing research coordinator job. Beauport was shocked by the news. She enjoyed brand management and particularly the challenge involved with controlling a product that directly affected the company's profitability. Marketing research coordinator was a technical support position—a "backroom" job—far removed from the company's bottom-line activities. Marketing research was not the route to top management in most organizations, Beauport thought. She had been sidelined. After a long silence, Beauport managed a weak, "Thank you, Mr. Gilman." She was too bewildered to protest. She wanted to collect her thoughts and reflect on what she had done wrong. Also, she did not know her boss well enough to be openly critical.
Gilman recognized Beauport's surprise, which he assumed was her positive response to hearing of this wonderful career opportunity. He, too, had been de-lighted several years earlier about his temporary transfer to marketing research to round out his marketing experience. "This move will be good for both you and Hy Dairies," said Gilman as he escorted Beauport from his office.
Beauport was preoccupied with several tasks that afternoon but was able to consider the day's events that evening. She was one of the top women and few minorities in brand management at Hy Dairies and feared that she was being sidelined because the company didn't want women or people of color in top management. Her previous employer had made it quite clear that women "couldn't take the heat" in marketing management and tended to place women in technical support positions after a brief term in lower brand management jobs. Obviously Syd Gilman and Hy Dairies were following the same game plan. Gilman's comments that the coordina-tor job would be good for her was just a nice way of say-ing that Beauport couldn't go any further in brand management at Hy Dairies.
Beauport now faced the difficult decision of whether to confront Gilman and try to change Hy Dairies' sexist and possibly racist practices or to leave the company.


1. Analyze and discuss the case first.
2. Apply your knowledge of stereotyping and social identity theory to explain what went wrong here.
3. What other perceptual errors are apparent in this case study?
4. What can organizations do to minimize misperceptions in these types of situations?


Solution Preview

1. Analyze and discuss the case first.


Hy Dairies a dairy company, showed increased sales and market share of its gourmet ice creams. This is credited to Rochelle Beauport, the Assistant Brand Manager who was assigned the brand. Gilman the Vice President Marketing was pleased with her work . He wanted to reward her by offering her the job of market research coordinator which would broaden her marketing experience , with some high profile work. Rochelle Beauport was not smitten with the new position as she enjoyed brand management and the opportunity to control a product that directly affected the company's profitability. She felt that the new job was a backroom job and that she was being sidelined. She did not feel that this was the route to the top, little knowing that Gilman career had been boosted after occupying this position at Hy several years before . She was shocked and wondered whether she had done something wrong to deserve this treatment. She felt that she was being sidelined because she was a woman, and a person of color. She perceived the treatment to be similar to that in her previous employment. Beauport did not know whether she must confront Gilman and try to change the sexist and racist practices at Hy Dairies or to leave the company.

2. Apply your knowledge of stereotyping and social identity theory to explain what went wrong here

The Oxford Dictionary defines stereotyping as a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
The major and overriding psychiatric problem of the black minority is the withering effect of racism (Solorzano ,1997). Hence the sociocultural and community aim must be to dilute, undercut, and eliminate racism wherever and however it is located( Pierce, 1974). Charles Lawrence( 1987) has commented that through selective perception, whites are unlikely to hear many of the inadvertent racial slights that are made in their presence. One needs to listen and understand the subtle, often automatic and non verbal exchanges which are 'put downs' of Blacks by offenders ( Pierce, 1978).

New research avenues are the ways in which sex role stereotypical thinking impacts on organizational factors, such as through differential placement, tokenism and supervisory bias, ...

Solution Summary

The article looks at the case of a woman of colour and studies issues such as stereo typing and social identity theory to show how it could affect the perceptions of superiors as well as subordinates .