How to Drive DEI Changes Across the Contact Centre

DEI, Diversity equity and inclusion. Concept words DEI diversity equity and inclusion on yellow background.

Quick Overview

Driving the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) agenda is a hot topic for contact centres right now, but it’s a challenge to get it right and make genuine strides forward. That’s why we’ve spoken to The AA about their recent successes in this area, including how to:

  1. Create Different Ways for People to Get Involved
  2. Share Personal Stories and Experiences
  3. Engage the Senior Leadership Team

In this article, we share positive tips and advice for improving Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in your contact centre.

Stride Towards a More Inclusive Workplace

Here are 12 ways to drive Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) changes across the contact centre:

1. Create Different Ways for People to Get Involved

The AA have set up networks to focus on driving positive changes in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), with various opportunities for people to volunteer and get involved.

Roles vary from ‘allies’ showing their support and ‘members’ attending regular meetings and committing to act, right through to ‘network chairs’ who facilitate the monthly meetings, as well as communicate progress and initiatives to the HR and senior management team in line with the company’s strategic direction.

Illustration of heads and speech bubbles - sharing stories and communicating

2. Share Personal Stories and Experiences

The networks also act as a platform for people to share their first-hand experiences and challenges around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) via podcasts and personal posts over the intranet and a dedicated Yammer feed.

This helps to drive purpose and passion for the project, as well as create awareness of the work the networks are doing.

3. Engage the Senior Leadership Team

Each network has a senior leadership team (SLT) sponsor, who commits to supporting the network for one year at a time.

This helps to strengthen the networks with the insights of an experienced business leader, as well as get buy-in and support across the wider company – including ideas on how to engage the outdoor patrols.

4. Focus on Short- and Long-Term Goals

The networks stay motivated by making short-term differences as well as long-term changes. This helps then to see some quick wins, as well as focus on a brighter, more inclusive future.

For example, the longer-term focus for the networks is to make sure that everyone can belong and matter at The AA, by representing customers and communities, enabling debate and innovation to encourage different thoughts and ideas, attracting and retaining the best talent, and more!

Short-term decision making can be detrimental to your business. To find out more, read our article: Short-Term Decisions vs. Long-Term Consequences

5. Pick Key Focus Areas to Work On

Instead of trying to tackle diversity as one big project, The AA have five network groups in place which focus on:

  • Gender
  • Supporting carers
  • Race
  • Disability
  • LGBTQ+

This approach helps to make sure that each area gets the time and attention it deserves, as well as attracting advocates to each cause.

6. Listen and Be Open-Minded

It makes a big difference if everyone involved truly listens and is open-minded when thinking about the challenges to address.

It makes a big difference if everyone involved truly listens and is open-minded when thinking about the challenges to address.

This creates opportunities for people to come forward and talk about the challenges in their own teams (for example, gender imbalance) and how they might collectively be able to address them.

7. Collaborate Across the Focus Groups to Share Ideas

Don’t work in isolation!

Whilst there are separate networks addressing the different elements of the DEI agenda, it’s equally important that collaboration happens too. That’s why the network chairs also come together once a month to share best-practice ideas and challenges.

8. Be Proud of the Progress You’re Making

Addressing matters of DEI is a marathon – not a sprint! That’s why it’s important to celebrate the progress and the journey milestones along the way.

Here are some of the success stories from The AA so far:

  • Implementing a buddy system to help support employees taking family leave (maternity, paternity, or adoption leave) as they return to the business.
  • Celebrating International Women’s Day, International Men’s Day, and more.
  • Meeting the Race at Work Charter principles and becoming a recognized listed signatory, committed to improving equality of opportunity in the workplace.
  • Putting a ‘My Great First Year’ programme in place to support new starters in the company and get buy-in for the DEI agenda off to the best possible start.

9. Don’t Set Fixed Goals and Targets

One way to drive DEI changes across the contact centre is to be careful not to set strict goals and targets.

As a voluntary group committed to making progress, your focus should be on the journey and overall direction – not adhering to SMART goals and objectives that can demotivate people if they aren’t reached on time.

10. Update Your Recruitment Adverts

Don’t forget to promote all your great progress externally too – particularly in your recruitment adverts where applicants will be keen to know what you’re doing in this area, whether (or not) you have signed the Race at Work Charter, and so on.

To find out how to adapt to neurodivergent people and widen your talent pool, read our article: An Introduction to… Championing Neurodiversity in the Contact Centre

11. Align Efforts With HR

To make genuine progress in DEI, you need to align with the HR team and have regular progress meetings with them – as they are the experts in this area.

As a general rule of thumb, the networks come up with ideas and drive progress, but the HR team ultimately takes responsibility for supporting and executing the ideas from a centralized point in the business.

12. Open Doors for More Diverse Candidates With Flexible Ways of Working

If you’re able to, consider offering a range of different ways of working, e.g. hybrid, remote, as well as in-office.

The AA have found that a flexible recruitment model, which includes hybrid, in-office, field-based and remote working, has helped to widen their recruitment pool and attract people from all walks of life. All helping to support their journey towards a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

If you are looking for more great insights into how to better support staff in the contact centre, read these articles next:

Author: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 16th Aug 2023
Read more about - Call Centre Life, , ,

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