CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 11, 2019
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7min2068

In the world of customer contact, the nurturing of a diverse and inclusive culture not only creates a team that reflects the market it is serving, but it generates an environment where people can bring their whole selves to work and unlock their full potential, which ultimately yields productive employees and stronger, more creative teams.

In a recent interview with Helen Gillett, Managing Director of Affinity for Business, and Petra Mengelt, Head of B2B Business Relations at Mash Group Plc, we explored the role of D&I in the world of customer contact and demonstrate how your biggest asset – your people – can set your business apart from the competition.

Here, we explore some of the key takeaways from the interviews.

Why diversity and inclusion can benefit customer contact

For many years, companies have thought of diversity and inclusion as affirmative action or box-checking, but it is everything but that. Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is not an HR issue. Instead, it is about diverse thinking, perspectives, experiences, work styles, and cultural backgrounds, as opposed to counting heads.

Statistics show that organisations that embed D&I in their culture have a distinct advantage to their competitors. Research by McKinsey & Company shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 21 percent more likely to outperform in profitability and 27 percent more likely to have superior value creation. Additionally, the most ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform the least ethnically diverse. Meanwhile, leading consultant John Bersin also shares that diverse & inclusive companies have 2.3x higher cash flow per employee than homogenous companies.

From a customer contact perspective, an environment of diverse cultures combined with individuals of different ages, genders, abilities, and sexualities creates a plethoric pool of opinions, skills, and ways of approaching challenges that work to benefit both the business and its customers. In a setting where unique challenges arise frequently, it is only favourable to have a diverse team that can share ideas and create best practices through collaboration.

How to create a culture of diversity & inclusion in your organisation

When it comes to creating a culture of inclusion, good intentions are a start, but implementation and accountability matter more. It is vital that organisations seek to cultivate a culture of D&I and make it a core part of their DNA. Here, we share three actionable steps to making a culture of D&I a reality in your customer contact centre.

1. Start from the top

Responsibility for affecting change should not be driven by HR. Instead, it starts with business leaders. Accountability is an essential factor in establishing a culture of D&I. When executive leadership incorporate talent as an active agenda item, that’s when it becomes intrinsic in the culture of the company.

2. Communicate to educate

Creating opportunities for employees to learn more about one another as people, rather than just colleagues, is a great way to build a sense of trust and community in your team. Petra encourages a culture of always asking questions to aid this, and also to dispel any negativity that may stem from misunderstandings.

“It’s important to never ever leave anything that stems from cultural difference hanging or unresolved, otherwise there is always a risk of encouraging negative stereotypes. I am always asking questions such as ‘can you explain what you mean?’ to create clarity,” she says.

3. Lead by example

It’s a well-known mantra that people don’t leave companies; they leave leaders. In order for a culture of D&I to thrive, employees must feel as if they are being coached by a leader who truly has their best interests in mind.

As demonstrated by Helen’s own comments on being honest about her journey, an effective way to do so is by leading by example. If a leader can bring their authentic self to work, their employees will feel confident enough to do the same. This can be especially important when discussing inclusion and mental health, as Helen shares: “Having leaders tell their stories lets people know that mental ill-health can happen to anyone and it’s not anything to be ashamed of – it’s ok not to be ok.”

Click the image below to learn more about how a culture of D&I can improve your customer contact experience.


Alf RehnAlf RehnJuly 10, 2019
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6min1328

The following article has been written for CXM by bestselling author and Professor of Innovation, Design and Management at the University of Southern Denmark, Alf Rehn

 

We might call this the tragedy of niceness…

So used are we to thinking of business as a cold, hard space, bereft of emotions and ruled by calculated rationality, that even when issues more aligned with caring and compassion are discussed, they are often presented as marginal concerns.

Consider, for instance, the issue of diversity. A plethora of studies has shown that diversity is a key business driver. Organisations which rate high in diversity, particularly when this includes top management, outperform less diverse companies when it comes to things such as performance and profitability, and in particular when it comes to innovation.

A recent study from the Boston Consulting Group showed that companies with more diverse leadership teams reported almost double the innovation revenues than companies with below-average diversity scores. In today’s highly competitive environment, such figures can literally be the difference between life or death for a company.

That said, diversity is still often discussed as a ‘nice to have’ for an organisation, rather than something of critical and strategic importance. I’ve sometimes referred to this as “the aestheticisation of diversity”, by which I mean that diversity is looked to more for its superficial benefits and less for the manner in which it responds to core business requirements. Coupled with the tendency to frame diversity as an ethical and moral issue, this ends up presenting diversity as a fundamentally nice thing – and this is a problem.

Damaging: Alf Rehn highlights ‘the aestheticisation of diversity’ as a problem for firms

As long as issues such as diversity – and we could easily replace this word with e.g. care, compassion, or civility – are presented as issues that make ethical or aesthetic sense, they will fail to become adopted as core logics in an organisation.

This is not only problematic from the perspective of diversity itself, it actively damages companies. We thus need to push far harder for the point that diversity is done for logical reasons, fully in line with the profit motive companies tend to operate under, if only to ensure that these principles are taken seriously.

In my research into innovation, this has played out in the starkest ways possible. Studies have consistently and for a very long time shown that team and company diversity are some of the most critical deciding factors for creativity and innovation success there are. Further, I have myself seen how organisations that embrace cultural values such as respect and compassion do considerably better when it comes to idea generation and development than organisations that are lacking in these dimensions.

Still, whenever talk turns to the way in which diversity and compassion might be developed in an organisations, CEOs and key executives often treat these as marginal issues. Rather than seeing them as strategic engagements, they are shunted off to HR, or given short shrift by at best being discussed as a possible theme for a workshop some times in the future.

This needs to change, as in an increasingly competitive environment, companies simply cannot afford to lose the cognitive surplus that lies in having diverse and compassionate organisations. Whilst it might sound troubling to some, diversity isn’t only nice, nor is compassion just pleasant. Both deliver where it counts, in creativity, in profit margins, in improved customer relationships.

Squandering such riches isn’t just about being a boor, but about being an incompetent executive. So let the aestheticisation of diversity and compassion take second place to what truly matters – the cold, hard reality that diversity and compassion drives results, generates innovations, and makes companies better. That they’re nice is a lovely added bonus.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 5, 2019
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4min900

Organisations must stop shying away from the inevitable, and instead take active steps towards creating a sustainable, Inclusive Culture, a new book on Employee Experience insists.

For modern businesses, diversity and inclusion are much more than just ‘tick box’ exercises. Organisations without adequate inclusivity and diversity policies can no longer hide, and must face the uncomfortable truth that their policies lack effectiveness.

In her new book Closing the Gap, diversity and inclusion expert Teresa Boughey outlines why society is no longer accepting rhetoric and promises in the place of solid action to build an environment that is both motivating and inspiring not only for employees, but customers too, who all want to feel proud to be associated with the organisation.

Furthermore, every single individual in the workforce should be treated with equal amounts of respect, feel genuinely supported by their managers and should never need to hide who they really are.

Closing the Gap provides business leaders, directors, and HR professionals with clear, practical guidance both for those taking their first steps and those already on their journey; presenting an opportunity to ‘evaluate progress’ and embed inclusive practices into all future strategies. Teresa utilises her “tribe5 Diversity & Inclusion” methodology to provide practical advice to any organisation seeking to transform their office culture.

This methodology guides the reader through taking stock of their current situation and raising awareness of what needs to change, to inspiring and involving all stakeholders, building for the future and embedding positive practices in all strategies.

Within these five steps, Teresa clearly illustrates the importance of many different aspects that impact the diversity and inclusivity of an organisation, including talent management, unconscious biases and male advocacy.

Embracing inclusivity and diversity not only ensures employees are supported and engaged, but also enables any business to stand out from their competitors, whilst crafting a positive brand identity as a welcoming organisation.

Teresa explains that Closing the Gap is the perfect read for any business professional seeking guidance at any point in their inclusivity journey.

“It is never too late for a business to stop and consider the impact of their policies on all members of the workforce and make meaningful changes to ensure all employees, both present and future, feel like an integral part of a positive force for good,” she said.




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