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Here are Steps for Fostering True Diversity in Your Contact Center

We are at a point in history when social issues are at the forefront of every conversation, in every industry. It’s not a conversation that people can opt out of anymore, and passive support of social justice causes is no longer enough. We’ve seen major companies in all industries like Ben and Jerry’s, Glossier, and Nike make public statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and make significant financial contributions to the cause.

With that said, you don’t need to represent a major brand to make a statement. It’s important for the contact center world to join in on this movement and promote positive change in our own businesses. Many of us represent a multitude of brands, and if we cultivate an inclusive culture within our centers, we can make an impact that spreads far and wide.

Maybe your company has already made a public statement, or you trust that your team is open and inclusive. A public statement is a good start, but there is more to be done. While I am not an expert in inclusivity training, my hope is to give you tangible actions that can be taken from the ground up in your contact centers that can make a difference. For change to come, it will take all of us to do our part.

Implement Programs that will continue for years to come

Offer a place, whether it be a person or system, where people can share their experiences with racism or inequality at any time. It’s important to offer a way for employees to anonymously report discrimination so everyone feels comfortable sharing their experiences without fear of retaliation.

This doesn’t have to be an elaborate system, it could be as simple as an anonymous email address monitored by a member of HR. If you’re providing an email address to employees, they can use a system like TrashMail.com to hide their address from the recipient. You can find other options of sending anonymous emails here.

A safe place where incidents can be reported is only as good as the follow-up. This is not meant to be a place where employees can vent; all reports should be taken seriously and treated with respect and urgency. That doesn’t mean every report is worthy of disciplinary action, but every report is worthy of an investigation. You could also implement voluntary wellness checks for those who have been discriminated against and chose to identify themselves in the report.

To promote more diversity on your management team, you can start a scholarship fund for your minority employees. This is something that can be awarded to your hardworking staff to assist them financially with higher education, and therefore giving them more of an opportunity to move up within your company or the industry in general. Invest in your employees who may not have the means to do this for themselves.

We’ve laid out control policies, but let’s not forget the preventative measures. You can implement training sessions for new hires and/or yearly seminars that focus on racism and unconscious biases. From the start, employees should know your stance on discrimination and the consequences that could follow. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to add this type of training to the current intro process, there are plenty of resources out there that are free to use. For example, Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training provides workshops on their website.

Foster an inclusive work culture

An inclusive work culture starts from the top. We’ve all seen the public statements companies are making, but internal statements can make even more of an impact. Your internal statement can mimic the public messages, but should be directed to your employees. This shows that you want your employees to take this movement towards inclusivity seriously and hold themselves accountable for their actions. You can also take this opportunity to share any new or existing programs you’ve implemented to support those who experience discrimination.

Be sure to read up on the antiracism training before sending it out to your team, and join the virtual conference you wouldn’t have normally attended. It’ll be worth your time whether you feel you’re already doing your part or not!

As leaders, stay informed on current events. Take this opportunity to get involved in the conversation, or at least actively listen. We can’t expect our employees to be informed if we’re not practicing what we preach.

Remember, it’s okay to adapt your values. Our culture is ever changing, and something that was considered the norm 10 years ago may not be acceptable today. In turn, rhetoric and policies we use today may not be socially acceptable 10 years in the future. It’s important to stay up to date with cultural changes, and be willing to adjust your views and actions.
In addition, acknowledge holidays of all cultures that may be applicable to your employees. This doesn’t mean you have to offer days off to everyone every time there is a holiday in any culture, but be respectful of those who celebrate differently than you do. For example, Callzilla is a US company, but we recognize Colombian holidays for our employees in Bogotá.

Diversify your hiring

When you diversify your hiring, you shouldn’t hire people from underrepresented communities with the intent to check a box or count heads. Hiring someone for their skin color who isn’t qualified for the job can be just as harmful to inclusivity. Take the extra time and effort to find qualified candidates and give them an equal opportunity for the position.

You can also diversify your marketing materials to make your company more inviting. Additionally, diversify the demographic to whom you’re marketing. Does your website, newsletter, promotional video, etc., represent all of your staff? If a minority individual looks at your website, would they envision themselves in your business and want to work for you? Something to think about!

This is not a complete list by any means, but hopefully this sparks some ideas that you feel could be implemented in your business. Maybe you’ve already got some of these programs in place, and now is the time to bring that to light and reshare with your team! Either way, let’s leave this with the takeaway that idleness is not an option, and now is the time to take some sort of action to promote inclusion and diversity in the workplace.