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Encouraging Cultural Diversity in the Workplace Final

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Quill Corporation is an office supply company owned by Staples Incorporated. In 1956, the company was founded by Jack Miller who was joined by his brother Harvey Miller a year later. The brothers started selling office supplies to small firms throughout the Chicago area. They would market themselves by going door-to-door to promote their products. By 1963, Quill became the largest mail-order office supply in the country making total revenue of $400 million. In 1998, the Millers sold their company to Staples Incorporated for $685 million where it is still booming in sales (International Directories of Company Histories, 1999).
Quill is known for office supply products but sell other products such as cleaning / breakroom supplies, electronics, and business furniture. Quill also provides services such as printing which includes business cards, letterheads, envelopes, and promotional materials; ink and toner finder/recycling, service plans, etc. Quill products and services are only offered online and in catalogs. They have 5000 employees at their corporate office located in Lincolnshire, Illinois and twelve distribution centers located in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas, California, Oregon, and Connecticut. The CEO/President of the company is Sergio Pereira and the company currently have revenue of $1.6 billion. Quill value their employees by offering many activities such as a wellness center, intramural sports, and hosting associate resource group meetings. Associate resource group meetings are held to provide associates with many skills, build confidence, and prepare for professional opportunities to help grow their careers. These activities allow employees to become comfortable and interact with each other in the workplace (Quill Lincolnshire Inc., 2015).

Annex Incorporated is a direct sales marketing firm located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The firm helps build strong long lasting relationships with customers in a business to business environment. Their employees are creative thinkers, entrepreneurial spirited, and ambitious professionals. Annex incorporated is a third party marketing firm hired by Quill Office Supplies. Annex has many core values and goals that allow their employees to become successful individuals. Annex and Quill employees are from different cultures and backgrounds but all come together to achieve a common goal. Which are building long lasting relationships with clients and become successful (Annex Inc., 2014).
Cultural diversity is a set of norms that exist in different ethnic groups throughout society, which includes religion, lifestyles, and educational levels (Amadeo, 2015). Cultural diversity in the workforce has become more versatile relating to cultural background, language, skills, value, and educational preparation. It is very important to understand many cultural differences among ethnic groups because it can be a tremendous asset to a company. Bringing different cultures together in one place can influence a group and become a learning experience. Each individual has different life experiences and these differences can strengthen a group and become valuable to each other. Cultural diversity also has its disadvantages. Being open-minded and non-judgmental to different ideas and behaviors of individuals sometimes takes time to adjust because it can be miscommunicated in many ways which brings conflict (Krome, 2014). Managing cultural diversity is a difficult task but can be accomplished, especially in a workplace.
The topic, “Encouraging Cultural Diversity in the Workplace”, was chosen because we wanted to discuss our thoughts and views on the matter along with our research findings. This topic is a great way to learn how organizations, mainly Quill, deal with and encourage cultural diversity in the workplace since they operate in a highly diverse milieu. We know that encouraging cultural diversity in the workplace plays a big role in companies and their employees. Our findings will allow us to gain more knowledge and a clearer understanding of Quill Corporation.
Assessment of External Environment
This portion of our paper directly aims to explore the external environment of Annex Incorporated. As stated previously, Annex Incorporated is a leading privately owned firm in the south Florida area and mainly provides its services to companies that elect to outsource their sales and marketing. With that being said, assessing Annex’ external environment actually means assessing the external environment of the company which it serves. The reasoning behind this approach is the idea that Annex Incorporated will mostly try to complement the business strategy that its employer possesses and, more often than not, the climate of the industry greatly influences business strategies.
According to our findings, Annex Incorporated is an employed party of the Quill Corporation, an office supply company that largely operates online as a subsidiary of Staples Inc. To say the least, as a segment of Staples Inc., Quill faces competition from the rivals of its parent company as well as those companies that operate within its domain. The office supply industry is considered a fragment of the retail industry, yet it is equally competitive and fluctuant. There are many players and countless brands available, hence competition amongst the industry is quite intense. Additionally, a low product differentiation makes it quite easy for customers to replace one product for another resulting in a highly consumer-driven market. In other words, Quill Corporation faces great competition from the likes of Office depot, its parent company’s main rival, businesses that operate on the web such as Amazon and eBay and other small businesses. All and all, Quill Corporation must employ great business strategies highly focused on day-to-day interactions with its customers in order to stay afloat in an industry as rigorous as the office supply industry; hence the reason why Quill Corporation has elected to outsource its sales and marketing to Annex Incorporated. Annex Inc., being a firm that highly specializes in direct marketing and customer relations, is the perfect edge that Quill Corporation requires to remain as competitive as the other industry players.
When speaking of competition, it is imperative for one to mention the exact methods that Quill Corporation has utilized over the years to gain a solid foothold in its market. First of, “despite its old-fashioned name, Quill Corporation is an Internet Age supplier of office supplies and equipment,” which means the company has long adopted a strategy which facilitates its enterprises online. (Hoover's Inc., 2015) Also, “through, the company distributes products to more than 1 million small and midsized U.S. businesses via its website and catalog;” an approach that allows the company to push their products to a very wide and extended market while being able to retain quality and great customer satisfaction. (Hoover's Inc., 2015) All of this provides Quill Corporation a very defined way of doing business. The company relies heavily on its website traffic to keep its products moving, however in today’s time the Internet is widely becoming a profitable channel and many companies are now also heavily investing in the maintenance of their websites.
Quill Corporation must not only offer a wide variety of products online but it must also greatly focus on the satisfaction of its customers because they can leave at any time. Alongside its vast list of product made available, Quill Corporation particularly must continue to invest in methods or strategies that efficiently heighten the satisfaction of all those that it does businesses with and hiring a firm such as Annex Incorporated is clearly a step in that direction. Through Annex, Inc., Quill Corporation is able to focus on its core competencies while not neglecting its customers. Quill Corporation operates the business while Annex Inc. sells and markets the product directly to the customers. The implementation of this strategy facilitates Quill Corporation’s operational goals and makes the company a large force to be reckoned with in its industry.
Although the business strategy implemented by Quill Corporation is of great usefulness, the company must be mindful of the market in which it dwells in South Florida. Given that Annex Inc. is a South Florida marketing firm, one can safely assume that the company is quite familiar with the cultural diversity that exists amongst not only the customers, but the employees as well. In other words, Annex Inc. must understand the implication of cultural diversity and align its managerial objectives to properly utilize diversity as an advantage. It has been said that, “employee diversity can give a business an advantage when dealing with a diverse customer base or international markets, making diversity an important business issue” (Podsiadlowski, 2012). If Annex Inc. establishes a welcoming attitude towards diversity then the company will definitely find success in its business operations. In conclusion, Annex Inc. and Quill Corporation should heed to the cultural diversity that exist in their desired market of South Florida and take the necessary precautions when creating sales and marketing strategies that will directly affect their diverse and non-diverse customers.
Assessment of Internal Environment
The internal environment at Annex Marketing Inc. is a reflection of its highly entrepreneurial culture. The atmosphere of the workplace drives innovation, creativity, and risk-taking from employees aggressively seeking opportunities. Vanessa practices self-sufficiency as a standard in her work place. The open communication between the different departments, on one hand, and between employees and managers, on another hand, has led the firm to develop entrepreneurial strategies and solutions. Sale representatives enjoy a short power distance with upper management to keep managers in line with the difficulties and experiences their representatives’ face in each day’s scenarios. Think of Annex representatives as commanders in a battlefield backed up with all the intelligence from the managers in the office, at the same time they are providing the management with the data, statistics, and suggestions observed from their interaction directly with the clients. Listening to your employees is as important as training them. Annex realizes that and takes their input in consideration and utilizes it in the firm’s sustainable development processes.
Annex Inc. core management team consists of five young innovative and motivated entrepreneurs. That small team was able to achieve huge success over a relatively short period of time. Those results wouldn’t be attainable without the edginess and competitiveness of those young managers and their eagerness to thrive. Owner and youthful president, Vanessa Castaneda MaCaffery, has made her way up from an entry position all the way to establishing Annex Inc. and over 7 years she managed to build great partnerships with a number of Fortune 500 companies. Cole Isetts, a managing partner, has also been in fast paced transitions that put him into a management position in just over a year, then moved from the Denver office to Fort Lauderdale to help with the management team there with the expansion of operations. The other three managers are Katie Daron, Andrea Vargas, and Lydia Bruegge. They are three young ladies making up a unique ratio of 4:1 female to male managers at Annex-Fort Lauderdale. The typical masculine management structure had to be broken in Annex’s case. Their managerial structure is performance oriented, and competitiveness and skills are the only measurements considered when hiring or promoting managers, regardless of their sex or race. The work environment is very supportive and open to new ideas and perspectives.
Moreover, the cultural mix at the firm has greatly strengthened the company’s overall performance, and celebrating different religious and cultural holidays has brought employees together and built strong relationships between them. Annex has developed a culture where employees rapidly move up the leadership ladder in a belief that their employees deserve to grow as the firm grows. “If our employees aren't growing, neither is our firm.” (MaCaffery, 2015) Vanessa says, Annex follows a model where positional promotion only happen from within the company because they believe that no one would be a fit for a management position more than a current ambitious employee. When hiring, Annex hand picks self-driven individuals and focuses on extensive training and personal growth by providing them with all the tools and support they need to succeed. Vanessa Castaneda MaCaffery (

Currently Annex has about 30 talented employees from different cultural backgrounds. Per our conversation with Mrs. MaCaffery, she pointed motivation is the key in their business. Keeping her employees motivated is a daily task that takes tremendous effort by management. After years of experience, they now have better understanding on individual differences and the way each individual gets motivated. She adds that every individual they hire has equal potential to shine and grow as a Quill representative and a potential manager as the business expands. While college degrees are preferred for new hires, outstanding interpersonal skills and the ability to learn in a fast paced environment are the main skills required.
Lastly, Quill Corporation and Annex Inc. both have plans to expand into four new markets and potentially operate in the United Kingdom in the near future. Quil possesses products that are designed to fit the needs of its diverse customer base and benefit its diverse stakeholders and partners. Annex has the managerial skills to organize teams of different backgrounds and direct them towards successful campaigns. To achieve desirable outcomes, one can say that “it is critically important to understand the importance of workforce diversity and effective communication in achieving the objectives of organizations” (Okoro & Washington, 2012). This notion would have to be apparent in everyday business activities as both companies are looking to achieve successful results from their expansion while following their current innovative model of operation and tailoring it to fit the new markets.
Assessment of the Organization Process
Marketing firms such as Annex Marketing Incorporated (AMI) are hired to do all of Quills Business to Business (B2B) marketing and sales. The Marketing firms that are hired have many roles which are the consultant, sales representatives, and customer service. These firms must firstly be established as consultants in order to assess and identify problems pertaining to their clients’ ways of business and then recommend solutions that will yield efficient results. Secondly, they must serve as a sales representative who act as experts when selling the better suited product. Lastly, the firm must also serve as a customer service representative, the most important part of the job. They must answer all the questions and concerns that all customers will eventually ask. Essentially, effective customer services will never go unnoticed as the company has been rated number one amongst its competitors. Quill has outsourcing marketing firms all over the United States and has recently started their campaign of expanding into London Vanessa has always been keen on the morale of her employees; she continuously implements strategies aimed at bettering their productivity and ambitiousness. For example, her most recent initiatives were the offering of club tickets at the Miami Dolphins Stadium, alongside a two nights stay at any five star hotel in Miami, and a full body massage and spa treatment. The very essence of a positive culture within a company must be embedded in its historical foundation, which then provides a clear understanding of what is expected and a sense of togetherness. Mrs. McCaffery also greatly encourages interpersonal and intergroup relationships, a plan of action she hopes will ultimately further the improvement of her company. Annex has actively use these core values of a positive culture and in return has gain a cohesive organizational culture.
When asked why she feels direct marking is the best way to market for her clients. Vanessa says “Everything in the world is so fast paced now and lacks human interaction. There isn’t that connection to the product or service anymore. We give our client’s customers three things: a face to the product, a great first time experience, and a product or service that will always meet their needs” (MaCaffery, 2015). Vanessa says, “the system called the “4’s 5’s and 8’s” is how the company works. The meaning of these numbers comes from the four impulse factors, the five steps to a conversation, and the eight great work habits. The company works around the bases of consistency. Consistent actions yield consistent results” (MaCaffery, 2015). The employees are given a page-long script which follows “the five steps to a conversation” when speaking to a customer. The five steps consist of the intro, short story, presentation, the close, and rehash. Without the five steps to the conversation, the employee cannot perform his/her job. The four impulse factors are then included to finalize the sale of the products to the customer. The impulse factors are just as important as the five steps to the conversation. Although, the five steps to a conversation will certainly get the attention of most customers; however, every person will buy for different reasons.

Cole Isetts the manager at Annex said, “the model of how we have been running business is great. The business is simple: memorize the pitch, work hard and say everything with a smile” (Isetts, 2015). Among the other marketing firms that are hired by Quill, Annex is currently ranked in the top 20 with two of its employees ranked as top 50 representatives. Keeping to the system is key and Annex prides themselves around the eight great work habits of having a great attitude, being on time, being prepared, working a full day, correctly working your territory, understanding your opportunity, respecting the client/customer, and taking control. To help their employees, Annex evaluates the day-to-day operations to ensure that most criteria are met successfully. In theory, employees must visit a minimum number of 50 businesses, 28 of which should be qualified. While seeking the demanded amount of qualified businesses, they must reach 8 decision makers, 4 of which should receive a full presentation of the products and, out of these 4, 2 applications should be completed in order to have a successful day. Depending on the numbers, the success falls under one of two categories; work ethic or skill. Cole mentioned that “skills are something we can teach and help you gain, but work ethic is something that you personally have. We can’t teach you how to work hard. When performance is low they have certain actions they take to motivate them and get their performance up and thriving again” (Isetts, 2015).
In The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities & Nations, understanding and preparing for the merging diversity in the workplace is particularly discussed and explored. Hoover reports that, “Concerns over racial and ethnic diversity have also played a large role in deliberations within major corporations looking for cities to expand or relocate operations.”(Hoover, 2007). With Annex and Quill expanding to different parts of the world, cultural issues will surely arise. There are nations who believe that globalization is against their cultural values and heritage. Barriers like these are some of the issues that Annex and Quill are facing throughout their expansion.
Her human resource team is in charge of the interview and hiring process. They have a unique way of selecting candidates which are, using multiple hiring sites such as Career Builder, Indeed Jobs, etc...They conduct in-person interviews to become better acquaintance with candidates. The interview process can last a full day in selecting the right candidates. The second round interview is where they find out more about background and see their overall potential for the job. I asked Vanessa, do you think that you would benefit from employees from different backgrounds? And why? “Yes and no, because even though the employee may be from the same culture if they do not like you they will not buy from you and become a client. Sometimes being from the same culture can play a role in pursuing new customers but that’s almost never the case. Business owners only care about how they are benefiting from us” (MaCaffery, 2015). When one is dealing with the same culture in business to business sales, the customers let their guards down and are more willing to hear about the services. The language barrier between employees and customers will cease to exist when they speak the same native tongue. When discussing the services in a shared language, the customers will be more comfortable and likely to purchase the products.
Many businesses give their employees business cards to present to prospective customers, however, Annex chooses not to follow that model. Instead, they leave prospective customers with a flyer that shows some of the products while scheduling an appointment to come back to try to seal the deal. Every employee who was questioned about their work process when dealing with customers answered the same as far as the business cards are concerned. Certain employees did voice their discontent about not having business cards while others liked the idea. The employees who would rather have business cards said they would like to have them so they can leave them with prospective customers. On the other hand, the other employees said most decision makers who are given business cards rarely inquire services.
Based on our findings, encouraging cultural diversity in the workplace is an important aspect in most companies. Annex has encouraged cultural diversity in many ways; selecting candidates based on skills and abilities regardless of race, gender, and cultural background. They provide extensive training programs to allow individuals to grow and become successful, conduct meetings where employees can express themselves and share ideas, celebrating holidays from variety of cultures, and providing incentives for individual performances. Annex and Quill have to consider the following variables in order to be successful in the globalized market: the different races, ethnic conflicts with local people, human rights, and societal values that can be different from the United States. On their mission of expanding successfully they will have to adapt in increments so that both sides can adjust to each other cultures equally. Annex will have to tailor the marketing techniques to better suit the new culture that they will be dealing with.
Although, these are great ways of encouraging cultural diversity, there are some improvements that could also be made to enhance cultural diversity. Becoming more open minded to employees’ ideas and adapting to change are important. For example, the Annex employees expressed to their managers about offering business cards to clients; even though, this is something the company has never done, being open to the employees’ ideas and contributions can make an impact on the company's success. Providing optional programs where employees are offered free online courses to partake in learning foreign languages and educating them about cultural backgrounds.
In today’s time, most companies can no longer afford to ignore the impact of cultural diversity on day-to-day business transactions. Businesses are becoming more globalized and diverse with the presence of employees from all walks of life; may it be race, gender, age, religion and more importantly ethnicity. The usual make-up of one’s culture can highly impact one’s decision making and communication skills. Businesses such as Annex would have to create clear communication channels that would enhance idea sharing and feedback processing amongst team leaders and employees. Open communication must increasingly continue for there to be no problems with any cultural barriers. Also, a proper feedback system must be implemented so that employees can effectively voice their concerns on how they are treated in the workplace. In terms of job design, allowing for flexibility in scheduling would be of great significance to the employees who are originally of different backgrounds. The idea of having the freedom to observe or celebrate religious and cultural holidays with ease can be a beneficial factor which in turn can promote productivity and team cohesiveness.
As quoted, “a belief in sharing responsibility for change is also promoted so that, for example, English-speaking employees should be as willing to acquire facility in speaking Spanish as Hispanic employees should be responsible to learn English” (Williams, 2001). Along with many other languages to eliminate language barriers and become more effective in communications. Also, educating these individuals of different cultural backgrounds will allow them to gain an understanding of how to work well with each other and the variations of work ethic. These improvements will expand on Annex success and allow the employees to become more successful. If the company appreciate the employees, then the employees can maintain outstanding job performance in pleasing their clients. This will allow the company to become more successful and profitable while maintaining job satisfaction for all employees (Pless & Maak, 2004).
Encouraging Cultural diversity in the workplace was chosen because it represents for us an important value in all companies. Quill is a company that since 1956 has developed a cultural diversity where employees are valued for their skills, attitude and cultural values. Quill develops its employees by placing them in creative environments, while pushing them to become more dynamic and ambitious. The results of these initiatives have been shown in the formation of successful employees. Moreover, Quill is a company that has managed to acquire an astute affinity for different perspectives and experiences present in its cultural diverse workplace. The company culture is quite receptive and unprejudiced when dealing with the cultural diversity that exist amongst its employees. Quill knows the difficulty individual employees can face when trying to adapt to a new work environment, however, the philosophy of the company allows it to help these individuals overcome these barriers.
Some of the assets that Quill possesses in the dealings with cultural diversity is its partnership with Annex Incorporated, a direct sales company that helps build long-term relationships with customers in the business environment and follows strict successful guidelines. Although the market has strong competitors, Quill Corporation externalize its sales and marketing strategy using Annex incorporated as a company that specializes in marketing directly to its customers. This strategy has allowed Quill Corporation to focus on their basic competencies without forgetting its customers, increasing the value and productivity of the company.
Annex incorporated is the cultural reflection of innovation, creativity, continuous product search, and market opportunities. Open communication is one paramount value that allows the company to develop new strategies with aims of being more competitive in the market (Taggart, 2007). Employees have the power of action and decision in the different scenarios that they face every day. The management of the company is open to direct interaction with customers, to listen to suggestions from employees and to provide training that requires their employees to have a successful and competitive attitude. The direction of the company is represented by young talented entrepreneurs and a high level of motivation. These qualities are transmitted to the employees, hence increasing their performances and competitiveness.
Lastly, cultural diversity has been properly accounted for through the various factors and decisions that allow Quill Corporation to retain profitable business operations. Both Quill and Annex Incorporated are examples of how cultural barriers can be overcome and channeled for better productivity and market presence.

Amadeo, K. (2015). Cultural diversity. Retrieved from od/suppl1/g/Cultural-Diversity.htm Annex Incorporated. (2014). About Annex. Retrieved from www.annexincorporated. com/#!services/ca4p C. Isetts, personal communication, January 26, 2015
International Directories of Company Histories. (1999). Quill corporation history. Retrieved from Hoovers Incorporated. (2015). Quill corporation company information. Retrieved from ORPORATION.1cde8b544063e428.html Hoover, K., Will. J., & Milligan, T.A. (2007). Understanding and preparing for the emerging diversity in the workplace. The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities & Nations, 6(5), 56-61. Retrieved from
Krome, M.A. (2014). Knowledge transformation: A case for workforce diversity. Journal of Diversity Management, 9(2), 103-108. Retrieved from http://www. Okoro, E.A., & Washington, M.C. (2012). Workforce diversity and organizational communication: Analysis of human capital performance and productivity. Journal of Diversity Management, 7(1), 57-61. Retrieved from http:// Pless, N.M., & Maak, T. (2004). Building an inclusive diversity culture: Principles, processes and practices. Journal of Business Ethics, 54(2), 129-147. Retrieved from
Podsiadlowski, A., Groschke, D., Kogler, M., Springer, C., & Van Der Zee, K. (2012). Managing a culturally diverse workforce: Diversity perspectives in organizations. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 37(1), 159-175. Retrieved from culturally%diverse%20workforce.pdf
Quill Lincolnshire Incorporated. (2015). Quill company. Retrieved from content/index/careers/careers-quill/default.cshtml
Taggart, A. (2007). Beyond diversity: Becoming a culturally competent organization. Ivey Business Journal. Retrieved from the-organization/beyond-diversity-becoming-a-culturally-competent- organization#.VL343CvF8lk
V. MaCaffery, personal communication, January 19, 2015
Williams, R., (2001). Some essentials of diversity in the workplace. The Journal of Technology Studies. Retrieved from

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