Diversity and inclusion impact not only a company’s employees but also its customer base. Organizations with diverse leadership can align with the values of their customers, building a more diverse workforce that customers can see themselves in. Companies that embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are better equipped to create positive multicultural interactions with their customers and provide better experiences.
Research has shown that customer satisfaction is declining, making it harder to connect with customers directly, especially in the digital age. In the United States, customer satisfaction rates are at their lowest in nearly two decades, and companies face new difficulties because of this. Consumers now evaluate businesses not just against their competitors but also against the top organizations across all industries.
The High-Tech, High-Touch Approach
Direct client engagement is more challenging than ever due to the development of digital technology. A “High Tech, High Touch” approach that emphasizes human empathy is critical, particularly in industries like health care, where sensitivity is essential. To provide good business outcomes, companies must know their customers, pay attention to cultural differences, and value the voice of the customer. A team with even one member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152% more likely than another team to understand the client. To be good at customer experience, companies must know their customers and pay attention to cultural differences and customers’ voices.
Importance of Neurodiversity
Harvard Business Review found that diverse companies had a 19% higher innovation revenue. Developing a diverse and inclusive culture forms a team that reflects the marketplace and diversity of thought, also known as neurodiversity. This is crucial to understanding customer needs and wants. Companies that embrace neurodiversity are better positioned for success, including access to more talent and diverse perspectives that can help their business become more competitive.
For instance, the disabled community represents $8 trillion a year in disposable income, and organizations that employ disabled workers can also gain insight into the services and products that fit the needs of a customer base with similar disabilities. A plurality of opinions is necessary to cater to all unique customer needs, including gender diversity, cultural background, work experience, race, age, and more.
Although the benefits of diversity are evident, many companies have been slow to integrate diversity initiatives into their best practices. In the United States, only 4% of organizations are succeeding in key dimensions of DEI programming. This resistance can be the result of ignorance of what inclusion in the workplace entails and how it enhances all parts of operations, especially business outcomes. In fact, company staff will be more adept at communicating with customers if the customer experience team is more varied.
Diverse companies also enjoy the benefits of having more actively engaged employees. A study by Deloitte University found that 83% of millennials are actively engaged when they feel they are working for a company that fosters an inclusive culture. This drops to 60% if they feel the company does not support an inclusive culture. When employees feel more connected, they tend to work harder and smarter, producing higher-quality work.
The Way Forward
To create a safe space for diverse employees, businesses need to incorporate workplace strategies that maintain a pipeline of talent, such as hybrid working environments, mentoring schemes, and male allies, all of which focus on employee well-being. Work-from-home (WFH) platforms have been pioneering diversity by providing geographically dispersed yet socially connected teams, delivering consistent and seamless services through a singular, agile platform. By offering an effective WFH environment, employees will feel more empowered and supported, irrespective of their gender, location, caste, color, and preferences.
Companies that commit to diversity are measurably more successful, and fostering diversity in the workplace is proven to attract top talent. If businesses want to improve their outcomes, they need to go to the source: their employees.
Alan Winters is Chief People Officer and Chief Diversity Officer at Teleperformance Group.