This case combines a strategy issue (merger) encompassing the disciplines of organizational behavior and human resource management. Issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) are intertwined in the case, ranging from gender discrimination to sociocultural and hierarchical social class discrimination. The case provides a glimpse into one context (Peru), using a realistic fictional situation, as an example relatable across cultures and a variety of industry and organizational settings.
In less than two years, Sweet Mountain Bakery (SMB) lost substantial market share in Peru’s cookie market. Top management was shocked to find the main reason was the high-growth performance of a relatively small firm in the country’s Andes Mountains area, All You Knead (AYK). The competition became so fierce that employees of SMB and AYK regarded each other as rivals to defeat. In late 2022, after several aggressive yet ineffective competitive moves, SMB solved the situation with a buyout of AYK.
Unanticipated in this merger was a set of serious DEIB challenges that emerged post-acquisition. Negativity between the two groups of employees undermined company efforts to attain synergy and efficiency and increase productivity. Students put themselves in the shoes of Victoria Huaman, SMB’s new human resources vice president. She is the only woman and the only previous AYK manager among the direct reports to the CEO. Her task is to prepare a report addressing not only DEI issues but also the issue of belonging.