Developing a diverse and inclusive culture not only forms a team that reflects the marketplace, but creates an environment where employees bring their whole selves to work – ultimately yielding more productive employees and more creative teams.
87% of organizations around the globe state that diversity is a priority area for them to focus on. It’s becoming more and more important to develop and implement these initiatives in your CX team.
Diversity in customer experience is about who’s on your team. To be more innovative, you need diversity of thought. To cater to all of your customers’ unique needs, you need to have a plurality of opinions and perspectives. It’s so much more than gender diversity: it includes cultural background, work experience, race, age, and more.
The next step beyond diversity is inclusion, because if you have diversity but not a culture that includes people who are different, then your diversity is meaningless. Without inclusion, people end up leaving your team because no one is listening to them and they don’t get the respect they deserve.
Diversity makes good business sense, but it must be paired with an inclusive culture. When you’re looking for the best talent for your CX team, you need to recognize that talent comes in all different shapes and sizes. Being equitable means creating an environment that enables every individual to flourish according to their own different talents and abilities.
No matter what industry you operate in, your customers are likely to be a diverse mix of people with a mix of religion, race, social status, ableness, and other characteristics.
The more diverse your customer experience team is, the better your employees will be at communicating, having empathy, and understanding the buyer. Diverse talent means you can more easily reach new markets and customer bases that you might not otherwise understand.
To win in a diverse market, your customer experience team needs to be able to empathize with the customers they’re trying to help. If they’re able to get on the same page as customers with values and culture, the easier they’ll be able to connect with them on a human level.
The better the employee experience, the better the customer experience. This includes regular interactions with those who look, think and sound different from the majority demographic.
The end result is novel and unexpected ways of working and a work dynamic that eliminates unconscious bias to help employees develop into the best version of themselves. This creates a virtuous circle which ends up attracting even more diverse talent to the company.
One study showed that companies with more diverse management teams had 19% higher innovation revenues than those with below-average diversity scores.
Different minds are capable of coming up with new and more creative solutions to problems – diverse teams are less likely to fall victim to groupthink. Many of the problems of large corporations stem from their inability to think, act and solve problems differently from the way things have been done in the past.
Companies must hire people from different personal and professional backgrounds in order to move past this paralysis, so they can find new solutions, create new lines of revenue, cut costs and increase profitability.
Diversity in customer experience has distinct financial benefits. Studies show that companies who embed diversity and inclusion into their culture have an advantage over those who don’t.
Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform their competitors by 21% in profitability, and are 27% more likely to have superior value creation. The most ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform the least ethnically diverse.
When it comes to creating diversity in customer experience, good intentions are a start but implementation and accountability matter more. Organizations need to actively work to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in the customer experience in order to see results.
Just like any other metric, measurement can be a good first step. Understanding not only how diverse your team currently is, but also how that diversity impacts their work experience, is critical to attracting and retaining great talent.
For example, Help Scout and Slack have both completed employee diversity surveys and then compared their results to the US average.
Buffer started analyzing their gender pay gap in 2017 and made changes over time to reduce their pay gap from 15.1% at the highest to 5.5% in 2021.
You can also measure your diversity efforts by looking at the length of employment or the rate of promotion of employees of different race, gender, and other protected classes. If you are hiring diversely, but not promoting and rewarding people equally, you’re left with a leaky funnel. Your team might start off diverse in entry level positions, but you’ll never have a fully representative company.
Acquiring diverse talent means that you have to actively pay attention to this in all phases of recruitment, to make sure you don’t succumb to unconscious bias and attract only a small group of people, similar to the people you already employ.
One way to ensure diversity is to interview every candidate with at least three team members who represent different backgrounds and viewpoints. You might also want to review resumes “blindly,” with names and identifying information removed so you can concentrate solely on their experience and qualifications.
Finally, make sure your website reflects the fact you have a diverse team – new recruits are likely to research your company beforehand and they might be put off by photographs of the leadership team depicting all white males, for example.
If you want to hire a more diverse group of people then you need to widen the candidate pool. To achieve diversity in your CX team, be open to both traditional and non-traditional methods of recruiting. To start with, word-of-mouth recommendations are likely to mean that you’re only hiring people who are like your existing employees, so this isn’t going to help with diversity.
Be open to the fact that some of the best CX professionals may not have a college degree. Work with organizations that focus on industry-specific diversity, such as Black Women in Science & Engineering which supports black women to enter corporate or government STEM related jobs.
Hire people across different levels, from service to management. You might have some particularly observant customer service reps that can share insight into your customers, or someone who has been a project lead for a new website.
There are many individuals across your organization who might be a good fit for the CX team, so consider hiring in-house if you have open positions.
The responsibility for instigating change should not be down to HR – it starts with business leaders who should represent the values of diversity and inclusion. Accountability is a key factor when establishing a diverse culture and should be one of the top agenda items of the leadership team.
Create opportunities for your CX employees to learn more about each other as people, rather than staying at the surface level of coworkers. This is a great way to build a sense of trust and community in your team, and encourage employees to bring their whole self to work. It’s no good having diverse perspectives if you don’t actively encourage your team to share their thoughts and feelings.
The benefits of creating a diverse work environment for your customer experience team go well beyond just trying to meet quotas. Having the right figures to show your company is diverse is one thing, but it’s more about cultivating an environment of inclusion to help your employees be their best selves. Not only will they be able to connect with a diverse customer base more easily, they will solve problems in a more creative way.