ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY

This document presents a discussion about the Allstate goal setting process. With goals that are vague or poorly thought out, it is easy to work hard to achieve an outcome that you dislike once you get it. Or you might succeed, but not notice that you did. Plenty of workaholics have that problem.

Societies make these mistakes too. Traffic jams make cars slower than the trolleys they replaced. Citizens overthrow oppressive governments, only to install worse ones. Automation reduces toil but throws millions out of work.

On the other hand, some people and groups do a great job of wanting things worth having, and getting what they want in ways that really work. This isn’t magic. These people are doing something different that helps them succeed. You too can learn to set goals in ways that work.

Allstate Goal Setting Process

The Allstate Corporation is the second-largest personal lines insurer in the United States (behind State Farm) and the largest that is publicly held. The company also has personal lines insurance operations in Canada. Allstate was founded in 1931 as part of Sears, Roebuck and Co., and was spun off in 1993. The company has its headquarters in Northfield Township, Illinois, near Northbrook. Its current advertising campaign, in use since 2004, asks, “Are you in good hands?”

Allstate has developed a four stage program for personal development. These stages are:

Step One. – Succession Programming: Many candidates are identified and developed for each key position. This system enables to track more than 36,000 employees, ensuring that the company’s future will be diverse at all levels.

Step Two. – Development: All employees receive an assessment of their current job skills and a road map for developing the critical skills necessary for advancement. Options include education, coaching and mentoring and classroom training.

Step Three. – Measurement: Twice a year the company makes a survey amongst all the employees using the Diversity Index and the QLMS (Quarterly Leadership Measurement System).

Step Four. – Accountability and Reward: To link compensation to the company’s diversity goals, 25 percent of each manager’s merit pay is based on the Diversity Index and the QLMS.

Allstate’s Competitive Advantage

In Allstate, the keyword is “Diversity”. Allstate was the only Illinois based company to make it to the Top 10 list for African Americans and one of two Illinois based companies to make it to the Top 10 list for Recruitment and Retention. Allstate was one of four Illinois based companies to make it to the Top 50 list.

Women make up 60.4% and minorities 28.6% of Allstate’s 40,000-employee workforce. Of notable significance to Diversity Inc. magazine was Allstate’s ability to recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

At Allstate, diversity is a business strategy to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace and workplace, By leveraging differences, Allstate would be are able to attract and retain the best talent, drive high performance, provide tailored service to a diverse customer base and strengthen our corporate brand in the marketplace and labor market.

Also, Allstate demonstrates their commitment to diversity in several ways such as diversity training is mandatory for all employees. The employee perceptions on diversity and the work environment are measured through an annual employee survey. Allstate’s CEO regularly communicates the importance of diversity through Allstate publications, videos and employee meetings.

Affirmative action is integrated into employee processes such as succession management, recruitment and leadership development. Senior leadership is held accountable for affirmative action results through performance management. Besides that, Allstate has a strong recruitment program for minorities working closely with higher education institutions that have a diverse student enrollment. Allstate executives also take active roles on the boards of some of these institutions.

Adoption assistance, flexible hours, the ability to work at home and/or telecommute, on-site child care and dependent care benefits are some of the work life programs that help Allstate to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. In addition, Allstate’s diverse workforce helps it to better serve and attract its diverse customer base. Allstate is one of the first property & casualty insurance companies to aggressively seek growth in the emerging markets.

There are now more than 3200 Allstate agencies that speak languages other than English (a total of 62 different languages), over 300 point of sale collateral materials that are culturally relevant to African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic consumers, customer service lines for Spanish-speaking customers, product information in Spanish on www.allstate.com/spanish/ and an in-language website for Chinese consumers at www.chinese.allstate.com.

Recommendations for Allstate Reward System

Unfortunately, not everything is working out at Allstate, In July 2008, the American Association for Justice ranked Allstate No. 1 among nation’s worst insurers. This ranking was given because: “While Allstate publicly touts its ‘good hands’ approach, it has instead privately instructed its agents to employ a ‘boxing gloves’ strategy against its policyholders,” said American Association for Justice CEO Jon Haber. So, the first task is improving the customer service.

Also, this company is well known to be focused on profits instead of service. For many insurance experts, Allstate dodges and weaves to avoid paying claims to increase its profits. Another common practice for Allstate is offering low-ball claims so that desperate customers in dire straits would be more likely to accept a settlement offer while Allstate continued to make a profit and collect interest on the insurance payment. Allstate would offer its “good hands” in the way of a low-ball claim and, if the customer did not accept, to get out “boxing gloves.

How my motivation would be influenced by Diversity Index and QLMS

A diversity index is a statistic which is intended to measure the local members of a set consisting of various types of objects. Diversity indices can be used in many fields of study to assess the diversity of any population in which each member belongs to a unique group, type or species.

For instance, it is used in ecology to measure biodiversity in an ecosystem, in demography to measure the distribution of population of various demographic groups, in economics to measure the distribution over sectors of economic activity in a region, and in information science to describe the complexity of a set of information.

Allstate’s annual Quality Leadership Measurement Survey (QLMS) is a detailed survey that drills down to the unit level with specific measures as to how the individual manager is performing on leadership aspects of the job, including diversity execution. Questions range from whether people are treated with “dignity and respect” and if individuals are allowed to advance “regardless of race or gender” in that manager’s unit. All levels of managers are held accountable for diversity through the QLMS and organizational success factors, which is part of their annual performance review that determines pay decisions.

Conclusions

When it comes to creating accountability for diversity and inclusion, experts suggests:

–          Keep the process clear, simple and understandable. Make sure that the idea of scorecards and accountability is aligned with the culture of your organization, like a manager said. “If you don’t have metrics and scorecards for other things you can’t just have them for diversity.”

–          Think carefully about the behaviors that you want. An X company first focused heavily on outcome or “quota” metrics such as recruiting, retention and promotion, when in retrospect, another financial manager said: “We should have focused more on the qualitative measures because those are the behavior changers.”

–          Remember that measures are fine, to a point. “We have certainly learned over time that you can have too many measures,” said a CEO. “Although as a financial services company results are everything, and we measure everything, having too many can be overwhelming.”

References

–          http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/Diversity/Articles/Pages/MoreThanNumbers.aspx

–          http://www.managingwholes.com/good-goals.htm

–          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allstate

–          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diversity_index

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How personal can ethics get?

This document presents a discussion about an ethical dilemma in a fragrance company. Ethical dilemmas, also known as moral dilemmas, have been a problem for ethical theorists as far back as Plato. An ethical dilemma is a situation wherein moral precepts or ethical obligations conflict in such a way that any possible resolution to the dilemma is morally intolerable. In other words, an ethical dilemma is any situation in which guiding moral principles cannot determine which course of action is right or wrong.

Business ethics can be both a normative and a descriptive discipline. As a corporate practice and a career specialization, the field is primarily normative. In academia descriptive approaches are also taken. The range and quantity of business ethical issues reflects the degree to which business is perceived to be at odds with non-economic social values. Historically, interest in business ethics accelerated dramatically during the 1980s and 1990s, both within major corporations and within academia.

For example, today most major corporate websites lay emphasis on commitment to promoting non-economic social values under a variety of headings such as ethics codes and social responsibility charters. In some cases, corporations have redefined their core values in the light of business ethical considerations. And the discussion on ethics in business is necessary because business can become unethical, and there are plenty of evidences today on unethical corporate practices

How personal differences and preference can impact organizational ethics

In some circumstances, some people have power over other people. For example, a therapist has more power than a patient. In a situation in which people are not equal in terms of their power, it may be important not to treat people as if they were morally equal.

Ordinarily, while it might be acceptable for someone who happens to be a therapist to ask another person for a date, it would not be acceptable for a therapist to ask a patient for a date (because there would be unusual pressure on the patient to accept due to the patient’s status in therapy). That shows the difference between personal ethics and professional ethics.

Ethics have nothing to do with being nice. Ethics is motivation based on ideas of right or wrong. The “right conduct” has nothing to do with being friendly. It is very possible to be an ethical ignorant. Or be a very nice person with no sense of personal or professional ethics.

But let’s explain the definition of ethics and what ethics are to us. Business ethics can be defined as written and unwritten codes of principles and values that govern decisions and actions within a company. In the business world, the organization’s culture sets standards for determining the difference between good and bad decision making and behavior.

In the most basic terms, a definition for business ethics boils down to knowing the difference between right and wrong and choosing to do what is right. The phrase ‘business ethics’ can be used to describe the actions of individuals within an organization, as well as the organization as a whole.

People live in environments that affect them in many ways. They have their own religion, their own point of view toward an issue. What we should concern is not at the boundary but the way that a person interacts with environment.  For example, for catholic people, when your company forces the staff to work in Christmas day, what are they supposed to do? Work or go to the church?

Another example, let’s say that your company harms the environment. As a manager, would you accuse the company? Or keep your work and continue receive salary. There are a lot of situations when your personal preferences are confronted with corporate policies.

How organizational policies and procedures can impact ethics

Most of an individual’s ethical development occurs before entering an organization. The influence of family, church, community, and school will determine individual values. The organization, to a large extent, is dealing with individuals whose value base has been established. This might imply that ethical organizations are those fortunate enough to bring in ethical individuals, while unethical organizations brought in unethical people.

But it is not that simple. While the internalized values of individuals are important, the organization has a major impact on the behavior of its members, and can have a positive or negative influence on their values. One example of the development of ethical individuals is the service academies. In their admissions processes, the academies attempt to get individuals of good character with the values integral to the military profession.

However, the academies also recognize that their core values may be different than those prevalent in society, and they devote considerable effort to the development and internalization of their core values. As is evident from periodic breaches of integrity at the academies, e.g., cheating scandals, these attempts to instill core values do not always succeed.

There are three qualities individuals must possess to make ethical decisions. The first is the ability to recognize ethical issues and to reason through the ethical consequences of decisions. The ability to see second and third order effects, one of the elements of strategic thinking, is very important. The second is the ability to look at alternative points of view, deciding what is right in a particular set of circumstances. This is similar to the ability to reframe.

The third one is the ability to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty; making a decision on the best information available. As important as these individual characteristics are, the influence of the organization is equally important. The ethical standards that one observes in the organization will have a significant effect on individual behavior.

The organization has its greatest impact in the standards it establishes for ethical and unethical conduct in its formal reward systems. Informal norms also have a strong influence on individuals’ behavior as do the actions of the leaders of the organization. Strategic leaders must understand that their actions, more than words alone, will determine the operating values in the organization.

Ethical dilemmas Valerie is facing

The position as a marketing manager is a link between the Board of Directors and the operations area. Valerie is facing the dilemma of blow the whistle and tells the CEO everything about Waters, or keeps the status quo, just the way it is.

Basically, Valerie is supposed to report this situation to the company’s CEO.  However, she is undecided because she does not have the same rights as any U.S. citizen. Valerie is just an alien with authorization to work and reside in the U.S. In the worst-case scenario, she would loss her work authorization and she will be asked to leave the country.

But that would not be the only one consequence of this annoying issue. She is attending school and she is enrolled in a Master of Science program. If she decides to go ahead, denounce this situation and become a martyr, she will have to quit school. Therefore, she would not be able to complete her career and she must go back to her country.

Lionel Waters is taking advantage of this situation and looks like he does not have any regrets about the kickbacks he is receiving, or the financial damage he is causing to the company. He designed a system to perpetuate these actions, without anyone who confront him. Blowing the whistle is not an easy decision for Valerie.

Suggestions for Valerie

Possibly one of the best suggestions for Valerie would be trying to break this sort of fragrances monopoly created by Lionel Waters. This is not going to be an easy job but it would help to give this company a different address. However, we are not completely sure about the liberty of action Valerie might have to do this.

Besides that, looks like no one in Wisson has been brave enough to confront Waters about his unprofessional behavior and about being completely indifferent about new projects and new fragrances. All the teams have become lackluster and Waters has showed an unethical behavior more than one time. If she reports to the CEO, Valerie might suggest a performance evaluation of Lionel Waters.

Now, before Valerie is going to take any chances, she should be aware about all the risks. No one besides her is knowledgeable about all these greedy attitudes from Mr. Waters. A marketing manager is usually hired to provide a new sales approach, develop new products, improve the brands, and if possible, to boost the revenue. How about someone from Human Resources doing this kind of job?

Conclusions

After reviewing the case, I would think: Blowing the whistle? This is not Valerie’s job. She is not Lionel Waters’ supervisor. That supervisor should confront him and make a formal demand for him to stop doing kickbacks or ultimately fired him. But also, not only Valerie but anyone in the company should be entitled to blow the whistle and stop this annoying situation. I am not suggesting for her to be cynical but there is a very difficult road for her if she tells anyone about it.


References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_ethics

http://business-ethics.com/

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-business-ethics.htm

http://www.businessethics.ca/

http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/business/