A lot is written about diverse workplace policies – especially in recent times – and much is talked about around diversity.
In my opinion, there are two sides to the diversity ‘coin’ and, when it comes to the contact centre inclusion is as important, if not more so, than diversity itself.
Diversity is perhaps considered the more measurable side of the equation; race, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation – are all data points we can capture on someone’s identity. However, inclusion is more than this.
Inclusion is not about labels or how one wishes to be identified (or not in many cases because of the lack of inclusion) but about how you are treated, how you feel when you are at work, how comfortable you feel in bringing your true self to the workplace.
Inclusion forms our culture and that culture drives how we interact with our customers, our suppliers, our contractors and the external world at large. So, it could be argued that inclusion is more measurable than diversity because it has a direct impact on the individual, the company and employee’s performance.
All CX organisations should have a D&I policy in place. It helps to demonstrate that you are mindful of and thinking about how to improve your diversity demographics across the organisation. I believe that to fully harmonise this a truly great working D&I policy also gives you:
- Greater reciprocity – the working parent or carer who is trying to balance home with having a great career as a call centre manager will be as flexible if not more so if they can move their working day around their other commitments and have a flexible work location – which is of course all possible with AI and cloud contact centre technology.
- More diverse thinking – having a broader group of people from different socio-economic backgrounds, education levels, abilities, race, age and gender etc, naturally gives the organisation different perspectives and approaches, which increases the chances of call centre staff better resonating with a diverse, wider reaching customer base. ‘Group think’ diminishes, constructive conflict is positive to enable improvements. Innovation and creativity heightens plus accountability increases: if your voice is heard and listened to, you are more likely to follow through on your ideas.
- Call centre agents that enjoy their work and their environment will be more engaging with the customer and higher performing.
This is certainly the experience at Olive – a true togetherness where everyone respects and understands the importance of each other’s role, how their job, input and output make a difference to how the company does commercially. This hasn’t come about by referring our people to the ‘policy’ but through leaders being open, honest and authentic and enabling their teams to do the same, and to share ideas or problems to come to better solutions.
While most organisations will either mention or talk about their diverse working environment, not all implement the policy past uploading it onto a communication channel internally or sharing as part of a tender. But there are tangible consequences for not actually implementing your D&I policy across the contact centre: –
- There is a loss of trust in the policy, which affects employee engagement.
- You can take affirmative action to help with your ‘diversity slates’ but the unconscious bias continues. This causes loss of talent as people don’t feel respected, valued or developed because of the organisation’s bias toward their gender, education, disability or race (as examples).
- Diversity of thought is lost. Many times I’ve worked somewhere and know I can’t be the dissenting voice because it will reinforce that I don’t quite fit causing me to be ignored, creating conflict with others or reducing my potential to progress. This leaves people feeling disengaged and creates loss of innovation.
- Your customers will feel that lack of inclusion, whether that is from what you say outwardly or because your company lacks the innovation and creativity that comes from true diversity to lead the way in your sector and deliver excellent customer experience.
To check that your organisation is operating a diverse working culture, ensure to have a blueprint of your business’ DNA based on the characteristics and behaviour of your workforce. This isn’t based on background, heritage or upbringing but dependent on attitude to life, work and ensuring your team are bringing the best person they can be to their role and career.
Openly discuss your diversity and inclusion policies with leaders and employees, and work towards being more inclusive, more diverse and more thoughtful about every aspect of your people’s ‘work lifetime’ with the company so you aspire to be the best place to work.
Employee experience is well documented to positively impact customer experience which is ever more important within a customer centric, call centre environment. So, now is the time to heighten the focus on inclusion of all your people to make the difference to everyone’s experience – customer and employee.