Hy Dairies Case Study
Syd Gilman read the latest sales figures with a great deal of satisfaction. The vice-president of marketing at Hy Dairies Ltd., a large Canadian 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 increased 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 nonwhite women 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 the annual performance reviews. He now had an excellent opportunity to reward her by offering her the recently vacated position of marketing 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 earlier.
Rochelle Beauport had also seen the latest sales figures on Hy’s gourmet ice cream and was expecting Gilman’s call to set up a meeting that morning. Gilman began the conversation by briefly mentioning the favourable 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, thought Beauport. 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 naturally assumed was her positive response to hearing of this wonderful career opportunity. He, too, had been delighted 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 nonwhite people 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 them 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 coordinator job would be good for her was just a nice way of saying 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. Apply your knowledge of stereotyping and self-concept to explain what went wrong here.
2. What other perceptual error is apparent in this case study?
3. What can organizations do to minimize misperceptions in these types of situations?