Robert Clark was a worried man.
He looked at the letter from Sam Polanyi, president of the Leather Workers’ Union’s local unit
in Maple Leaf Shoes again. Polanyi had warned him of “dire consequences” if the firm did not
proceed slowly on automation in its local plant. The union had urged its members to adopt a
“work slow” tactic beginning next month. Worried by the decline and demise of giant
organizations such as General Motors, Chrysler, and Nortel, Maple Leaf’s workforce was
strongly against any impending automation that could further reduce the workforce number at
a time when the unemployment rates in various parts of Canada were at historical highs. In
three months’ time, the contract negotiations with the same union had to be concluded.
Automation and the newly proposed workweek would surely be important bargaining items.
But what option did the firm have now? The competition from China, Korea, Indonesia, and
Malaysia was devastating. Just in the last six months, the firm had lost two major retail
suppliers in the United States, which had pointed out that Maple Leaf’s shoes were too highpriced for its customers. Meanwhile, there were industry rumours that a major Indian footwear
firm is planning to enter the North American market. When that materializes, Maple Leaf Shoes
will likely face even greater competition at home. India has had a long history of producing
quality footwear and can also take advantage of its cheap labour and emerging high-tech
industries in producing high fashion, cheap dress shoes, and high endurance “cross-trainer”
The recent warning from the local Human Rights Commission (HRC) did not help matters either.
Apparently two female employees, who were denied promotion in the past, had complained to
the Commission. They had argued that the promotion criteria employed by the firm for
supervisory positions worked against women. When the HRC looked at the complaint, it did not
consider their cases to be strong enough to proceed further. However, it had warned the
company about the concentration of women in low-paid jobs and lack of clear job specifications
for supervisory positions. The Commission had urged immediate remedial actions, including an
in-depth look at supervisory competencies and job specifications. The firm was expected to
come out with a remedial plan in the next 12 months.
To top it all, neither Pat Lim nor Jane Reynolds was there in Wilmington to help him. John
McAllister, the firm’s previous human resource manager, had resigned to take up a similar
position in Western Canada. Maple Leaf Shoes had not hired a new manager in his place. Until
now, Pat Lim, General Manager (Marketing) was overall in charge of the human resource
function, although most of the routine decisions were made by Jane Reynolds, who in the past
had served as special assistant to John McAllister. But recently Reynolds had been admitted to
a local hospital for a surgical procedure. Clark has now been informed that Reynolds will not be
returning for some time.
Given all the pressures, Clark decided to immediately fill the human resource manager’s
position. Clark retrieved the job ad the company had used when hiring John McAllister. He
made some minor changes to it and decided to place it in local newspapers as soon as possible.
A copy of the final advertisement that Clark prepared is shown in Exhibit 1.
It was after making arrangements for the newspaper ad that Clark remembered his childhood
friend, Joy Flemming, who ran a temporary-help agency in Toronto. Clark and Flemming were
schoolmates and had kept in touch with each other over the years. Flemming had built up a
successful agency that supplied clerical and office staff on a temporary basis. While Clark knew
that Flemming’s agency primarily supplied clerical workers (and some technical/supervisory
personnel), he was convinced that Flemming’s years of experience in the local industry would
have exposed her to successful human resource professionals elsewhere. He decided to hire Joy
to also conduct a search.
Joy was certain to ask him what kind of a person he was looking for. In Clark’s mind, he needed
a tough individual—someone like John McAllister who could stand up to the unions and take
charge. Clark personally disliked handling employee-related matters; he would like to hire
someone who would consult him on major issues but who was capable of making decisions on
his or her own. There was no formal job description for the HR manager’s position in Maple
Leaf Shoes, although a consultant was currently working on writing a detailed job description.
However, Clark did not value such a document. He was a great believer that these documents
meant little except adding to the paperwork. A good person was what he needed now—a wellrounded, tough, experienced person like John who would run a tight ship.
Oh, how much he missed John, Clark reflected sadly.
Maple Leaf Shoes Limited
A HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGER
Maple Leaf Shoes Limited, the maker of Fluffy Puppy, Cariboo, Madonna, and other brands of highquality footwear, which currently employs over 650 persons, requires a Human Resource Manager for
its head office in Wilmington, Ontario. We are a fast-growing company with plans to expand operations
to several provinces and countries in the near future. Currently, we export to the United States and a
number of European countries.
As the Human Resource Manager, you will be responsible for overseeing all human resource functions
for this large, expanding organization. You will be directly reporting to the President and be part of the
top management team.
We are looking for an aggressive, results-oriented individual who can meet the organization’s challenges
and facilitate our growth plans in the 21st century. This is a senior position and the typical recruit for this
position will have at least 15 years’ experience in a senior management capacity. The salary and benefits
will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.
We are an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and welcome applications from qualified women
and minority candidates.
Apply in confidence to:
Office of the President
Maple Leaf Shoes Limited
1, Crown Royal Lane, Maple Leaf Town
We help you put your best foot forward!
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (20 Marks) *For best outcomes, students should conduct further research
and refer to Legislation & Recruitment Chapters. Ensure that your answers are well supported.
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