SPICEMAKER AIMS TOWARD DIVERSITY McCormick seeks to raise awareness


If any corporation should appreciate the old maxim that variety is the spice of life, it's McCormick & Co., the Hunt Valley-based specialty food and seasoning manufacturer.

So it's fitting that McCormick has begun a diversity management program.

The program is designed to help managers become more sensitive to the vast differences they will encounter as the United States' work force grows more ethnically and culturally diverse.

Indeed, 36 percent of McCormick's 7,600 employees are minorities and 41 percent are women. Federal labor statistics predict that these percentages will increase during the next few decades -- and McCormick officials agree.

"About a year or two ago, we became aware of the changing demographics expected for the '90s and into the year 2000, and we decided we'd better start soon to prepare our organization for the changes to come," says Laura Paschall, McCormick's manager of corporate training and human relations services.

Like many other large companies, McCormick is slowly coming around to implementing a full-blown diversity management program.

To raise awareness to the need for sensitivity in accommodating multiculturalism, McCormick has opted for a videotape developed by Copeland Griggs Production Inc. of San Francisco.

Copeland Griggs has produced a number of videos on the subject of diversity management. McCormick has purchased the initial one -- for less than $1,000 -- which gives managers "a better feel for what cultural diversity is," Ms. Paschall says.

McCormick is trying to raise managers' awareness of the issue before tackling proposals for formal policies, Ms. Paschall says.

While the video makes the rounds at McCormick's Hunt Valley corporate headquarters, Ms. Paschall says it's too early to say what the company's next step will be.

McCormick might bring in consultants and include the issue of diversification management in corporate training programs, she says.

McCormick also has turned to Procter & Gamble, and other major corporations with diversification programs, for background and assistance.

Whatever comes next, McCormick is taking a long-term approach to the issue. The company plans for its program to run for at least five years.

Experts say that until companies understand that diversification management is a bottom-line issue and not a moral or legal one, it won't be taken seriously.

McCormick executives have lent more financial support than expected, Ms. Paschall says. That, she says, is a sign that the company understands the s importance of diversification.

She adds, "The effect on the bottom line is something we've definitely brought out in all of this."

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