Cirque Du Soleil's Human Resource Management Practices

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB103
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1985-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Cirque Du Soleil
Industry : Circus Entertainment
Countries : Canada

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"For us training is 'creative transformation' and recruiting is 'treasure-hunting.' Even at Cirque, we have to work hard at it. We too could lose our soul, if we didn't have the commitment. We have a 'Creative Synergy' department, whose preoccupation is in doing this." 1

- Lyn Heward, Executive Producer and Senior Advisor, Cirque du Soleil, in August 2007.


In April 2004, Montreal, Canada-based Cirque du Soleil (Cirque)2 had to pay US$ 600,000 to settle an HIV discrimination case against it. A performer with Cirque, Matthew Cusick (Cusick), filed a discrimination complaint against the company in the federal court after he was asked to leave as he was tested HIV+ve. This settlement mandated that the anti-discrimination policies of the company should be revised and all the employees should be provided anti-discrimination training. Talking about the incident, Suzzane Gagnon (Gagnon) Vice President, Human Resources, Cirque, remarked, "It's too bad that it did happen, but I think we have better management practices today."3

Following this settlement, Cirque worked hard to ensure that its reputation remained untarnished by the incident. The HR department was given training on the prevailing discrimination laws and the responsibilities of the employers. All the employees spread across the world were educated about HIV and other diseases by experts in the field.

The case proved to be an eye opener for Cirque, which had always had a reputation of being an undiscriminating, gay-friendly organization. Commenting on the case, Hayley Gorenberg, Cusick's attorney, said, "The case called (Cirque's gay-friendly image) into question for a lot of folks, and justifiably so. But Cirque showed a certain willingness on their part to be fully engaged in making the changes that they need to make."4 As a result of the case, Cirque came up with new HR policies and practices. Cirque, an entertainment company, had shows combining several entertainment elements like traditional circus, ballet, opera, and theater. The company organized both permanent shows and touring shows.

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1] Arupa Tesolin, "Business at the Big Top: Four Rings for Creativity and Innovation," August 08, 2007.

2] Cirque Du Soleil, which means "Circus of the Sun" in French is a privately held entertainment company headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is estimated that the annual revenue of the company is about US$ 600 million.

3] Cindy Waxer, "Cirque du Soleil's Balancing Act,", January 2005.

4] Cindy Waxer, "Cirque du Soleil's Balancing Act,", January 2005.


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