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Building Contact Center Love: How to Attract a Diverse Workforce in 3 Steps

February 16, 2023

In 1976, the same year the U.S. celebrated its first official Black History Month, only 4% of managers were persons of color. By 2020, a McKinsey diversity study showed that, across most companies, that average is now at 7%; only a 3% difference in 47 years! Yes, that’s just one statistic. Though we’ve made progress on diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace, there’s still a long way to go. The good news is that more companies recognize the importance of D&I. The most diverse companies are generally more innovative, competitive and are 36% more profitable. Despite this, many still do not have enough diversity in their workforce. How can your organization change that?  

Here are three steps every company should take. 

Step One – Representation  

North America’s population is diverse. Currently, there are close to 44 million people in the U.S. who were born in another country, and Millennials and Gen Z are already the most racially diverse generations, with more than 40% identifying as persons of color. People want to see that diversity reflected in their workplace. However, when McKinsey’s report on D&I was released in 2020, employee surveys showed that only 52% felt positively about their company’s diversity, and a similar amount believed that their company could do more to make their workplace a more equitable environment. 

Show Don’t Tell 

It’s not enough to just tell people that your company is diverse and inclusive. Almost every organization has a D&I policy or statement. But you must prove it to potential job seekers. Use inclusive language in your applications and make sure there’s diversity within your recruitment team. It's also helpful to highlight the diversity of your employees on social media. But these should be real employees, sharing their genuine experiences at the company, as we did with our recent ‘i am itel’ campaign. Then, you need to back that up by showing new hires that you’re an organization that practices what they preach.  

When employees don’t see equal representation in their executive team, they don’t see a future where they could be included among those at the top. It’s discouraging, and it certainly won’t compel them to stay. There should be diversity throughout all levels of the company. It’s important to identify and eliminate any barriers or potential biases that could prevent marginalized groups from succeeding. But you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. One thing we do at itel is offer free workshops on Unconscious Bias and how to be more aware of one’s own attitudes and beliefs.   

Step Two - Communication 

Cognitive diversity means diversity of values, thoughts, and personalities. Innovation thrives when employees from all diverse backgrounds are given the chance to share their ideas, skills, and perspectives. In fact, cognitive diversity can enhance team innovation by up to 20%. It drives better, faster decision making. Diverse teams can also identify unmet market needs and can help your organization to better understand diverse customer segments. Research shows that when at least one team member shares the same ethnicity as a client, that team is twice as likely to understand that client’s needs.  

Supply Safe Spaces for Voices to Be Heard 

It’s not only important to hire diverse talent, but each employee also needs to know that their voice is valuable and will be heard. They need to feel safe within the workplace, safe to share new ideas and opinions. It requires a culture of openness, and this can be achieved in several ways. Active listening during performance reviews allows managers to pick up on employee cues and to invite further discussions, while encouraging different viewpoints in meetings can give team members a safe space in which to offer innovative ideas.  

To have a truly open and inclusive culture also means tackling any microaggressions or discriminatory behaviors. There should be a zero-tolerance policy for workplace bullying or harassment. If employees feel discriminated against, they should feel they can turn to management or their HR team for support. At our organization, for instance, we don’t believe in rigid hierarchies. We have an open-door policy, where managers are freely accessible, and any team member can approach them if they have a concern. While workspaces are purposefully designed to offer many casual, comfortable and “safe” meeting spaces outside the production floor. 

Step Three - Belonging 

Many people forget about ‘inclusion’ and that’s what affects performance and retention more than anything else. A report by Better Up on The Value of Belonging at Work found that only a single incident of micro exclusion in the workplace can result in a 25% decline in an individual’s performance. But when an individual feels included and valued, sick days decrease by 75% and retention increases by 50%. When people feel they can be who they are at work, they are likely to feel more engaged and motivated, and have a stronger desire to stay with the company.  

Celebrate Employees’ Diversity 

It’s challenging to build an inclusive culture where everyone feels a sense of belonging. According to McKinsey’s research, only 29% of employees feel positive about their workplace’s inclusion efforts. To create belonging, it’s important to create opportunities for cultural exchange between employees, to bring awareness to different religious holidays, celebrations, and cultural beliefs, particularly of minority groups. This provides recognition, education, and can dispel harmful stereotypes. It also encourages employees to mingle and socialize, which increases their sense of belonging.  

Conclusion

Now that you have the blueprint for success, you're ready to attract and retain a diverse workforce. The important thing is to never become complacent about D&I. Diversity is not an end-goal, but something which must be worked at continuously. Organizations should constantly assess whether they are inclusive, equitable, and diverse enough, and should always look for new ways to encourage diverse applicants and to ensure they have equal representation, and opportunities, in the workplace.

At, itel we celebrate uniqueness. Interested in becoming part of the team? Apply here.

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