In recent years, a growing body of research has conﬁrmed what many have long known to be true: employing those from all walks of life is better for business. Workers from different backgrounds help bring a fresh perspective to business problems, and society as a whole is better off when ﬁrms are more inclusive.
Firms led by women, for example, tend to be not just more proﬁtable, but also more socially responsible—and they provide better customer experiences.1 Meanwhile, ﬁrms with higher levels of racial diversity may generate more sales revenue than less diverse competitors.2
Diversity also facilitates the recruitment of the best talent. Younger workers are more diverse than their elders, and, at the same time, they regard diversity as an important feature among potential employers.
Yet, even as some business leaders are embracing employees of different backgrounds many others are struggling. Some just issue statements championing the cause of diversity while continuing to conduct business as usual. This white paper explores the components of successful diversity initiatives, and how businesses can beneﬁt from fostering a more open and inclusive atmosphere.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion promise healthier collaboration and more productive workplaces. In 2020, McKinsey published the results of a ﬁve-year survey on diversity that spanned over 1,000 companies in 15 countries. Companies with high levels of gender diversity are 25% more likely to ﬁnancially outperform rivals that lack gender diversity, the report noted. Those that excel in racial diversity are 36% more likely to ﬁnancially outperform diversity laggards.3 Overall, the report concludes, “the most diverse companies are more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on proﬁtability.”
Moreover, workplace demographics are changing. Those born around 2000, known as Generation Z, now comprise 37% of the workforce (a larger share than Millennials, who entered adulthood around that time. And among the Generation Z cohort, 83% of potential employees reported that diversity and inclusion was an important factor when choosing an employer, according to a survey conducted by the job board Monster.4 As a result, employers that do not take diversity and inclusion seriously risk alienating a large and tech-savvy segment of workers.
But, in the face of these trends, many ﬁrms simply invoke slogans about the need for equality in the workplace. They do not act. The result of this, what critics call ‘performative activism’ or simply ‘slacktivism,’ is potential workers from diverse backgrounds are not recruited.5 Meanwhile, those who are already employed often stay silent on issues, thus robbing the company of insights that could propel it to better performance.
Companies cannot accidentally achieve diversity and inclusion. Instead, laying the foundation for diversity and inclusion requires concerted action. Executive leadership must establish its seriousness and craft clear diversity and inclusion goals. As part of these goals, data is needed. Without robust internal data, companies simply lack the information they need to gauge salary trends. Thus, they cannot remedy pay gaps or inequalities in promotion.6
Once this is done, human resources professionals can commit to recruiting the best talent. As an enterprise-wide effort, the corporate culture must be welcoming. In this setting, talented employees from diverse backgrounds will feel comfortable expressing themselves. Monitoring progress toward this end should be the responsibility of a designated Diversity and Inclusion Ofﬁcer.
Despite the many beneﬁts of a diverse and inclusive workplace, for a variety of reasons many enterprises that specialize in customer experience (CX) management have been slow to embrace diversity initiatives. Investment in diversity and inclusion programs is only a mid-level priority for in-house outsourcers, according to the 2022 Ryan Strategic Advisory Front Ofﬁce CX Omnibus Survey of 668 enterprise customer experience decision-makers.
The sad reality is that some ﬁrms are simply indifferent to diversity. Others behave as if attaining a more diverse force is ample progress. In so doing, these ﬁrms neglect the vital role of inclusion programs in fostering collaboration, support, and honest exchange.
For a company to truly realize the beneﬁts of being an inclusive workplace, it must go beyond catchphrases about equality. It must consistently hire women, minorities, and those with physical disabilities. It must possess corporate values that foster open expression.
This is where Philippine-based global outsourcer Inspiro stands out.
In the past 20-plus years, the Philippines has grown into one of the world’s leading BPO destinations. “The BPO and contact center industries in the Philippines lead in DEI efforts,” says Marvin Victoriano, Chief People Ofﬁcer at Inspiro, “and at Inspiro everyone is included.”
Over 62% of companies in the Philippines have programs aimed at recruiting or supporting LGBTQ employees, making it the nation with the highest degree of LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace in Southeast Asia, according to one study by Boston Consulting Group.7 Filipino ﬁrms have similarly high levels of programs aimed at gender and racial inclusion.
Underlying this embrace of those from all backgrounds is the Filipino word malasakit—meaning genuine care and concern. Malasakit infuses many aspects of business life, including contact center services. Among other beneﬁts, this approach bolsters inclusion as a source of strength in Filipino culture.
Inspiro has internalized malasakit over the years. During that time, it has crafted a way of business that embraces diversity. When recruiting, the company focuses on the individual’s potential to excel as an agent, regardless of gender, sexual identity, or prevailing social norms. Workers are embraced for their ideas, because by empowering the voices of agents and employees across the spectrum a mix of viewpoints can be included in decision-making. Respect, another core company value, is also stressed.
Today, women account for 60% of Inspiro’s agents across its sites in the Philippines, Nicaragua, and the United States. LGBTQ members are also a notable share of employees. Victoriano champions the company’s diversity and inclusion programs, helping both to ensure diverse voices are heard and that all employees are paid and promoted fairly based on their talents.
Inevitably, encouraging free expression occasionally leads to constructive feedback. At one point, the company’s dress code had become dated, with regulations for traditional male and female attire. As diverse voices pointed this out, Inspiro changed the dress code.
Such flexibility also manifests itself in work models. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Inspiro realized that work-from-home offered a unique beneﬁt to many of its employees. In particular, moms of young children who were trying to juggle personal responsibilities alongside their careers embraced home working. So, the company has adopted a 100% work-from-home model for its agents in the United States. And, while client demands entail a share of on-site service delivery at Inspiro’s centers in the Philippines, the company prioritizes mothers in determining who gets work-from-home shifts.
Overwhelmingly, the company’s agents and other employees praise the beneﬁts brought by this openness and inclusion. As part of the company’s internal survey, 92% of Inspiro employees report that they know what is expected of them at work; 81% say that their supervisors fairly measure their job performance.8
Today, company culture is vital for long-term commercial success. Consumers are increasingly familiar with the corporate structure of their favorite brands, and they will readily switch to a competitor’s products if they feel a brand does not reflect their values. Employees, too, are ever more sensitive to the reality of a company’s culture, and in today’s hot job market, talent-ed employees know their in-demand skills can readily serve another company if their views or background are not appreciated.
Diversity and inclusion, in other words, matter more than ever. A growing base of research points to far-ranging beneﬁts for employees to hire more women, racial minorities, and those from historically marginalized backgrounds. Proﬁtability is improved, sales increase, and so do customer experiences when a company is more diverse. Moreover, beyond enhancing a set of transactions and deals, true diversity and inclusion can serve to attract the best talent.
Harnessing the full advantages of a diverse workforce requires concerted effort. Corporate culture must foster openness as human resources departments strive to recruit the best talent, regardless of a candidate’s background. A dedicated diversity ofﬁcer should advocate for employees of all backgrounds, while the executive team studies where discrepancies exist among groups of employees—and work to rectify disparities in pay and working conditions when they are found.
Realizing this vision is something that sets Inspiro apart. For over twenty years, the company has internalized the traits of mutual respect and concern for one another’s welfare, traits embedded in the Filipino practice of malasakit. Now, in light of the re-shuffling of business operations brought on by work-from-home service delivery, Inspiro is marshaling its openness and diversity to ever greater effect, embracing its female, minority, and LGBTQ agents. With the result that the customer experience provided by the outsourcer is enriched by diversity—all to the beneﬁt of not just corporate performance, but to the lives of its agents and those interacting with them.
1 “Research: Adding Women to the C-Suite Changes How Companies Think,” Harvard Business Review, 6 April 2021: https://hbr.org/2021/04/research-adding-women-to-the-c-suite-changes-how-companies-think
2 See, for instance, “Diversity Linked to Increased Sales Revenue and Profits; More Customers,” Cedric Harring, American Sociological Review (2009): https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090331091252.htm
3 “How Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matter,” McKinsey & Co. 19 May 2020: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters
4 “What Workforce Diversity Means for Gen Z,” Monster.com: https://hiring.monster.com/resources/workforce-management/diversity-in-the-workplace/workforce-diversity-for-millennials/
5 “The Dangers of Performative Activism and How to Avoid It,” Youth Friendly, 12 Aug 2021: https://www.youthfriendly.com/blog/slacktivism
6 “According to PwC, 80% of enterprises fail to collect data on pay. “Global Diversity and Inclusion Survey,” PwC Global (2021): https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/services/people-organisation/global-diversity-and-inclusion-survey.html
7 See Exhibit 4 in “The Diversity Dividend in Southeast Asia,” Boston Consulting Group, 30 April 2020: https://www.bcg.com/publications/2020/diversity-dividend-in-southeast-asia
8 For more insights from Inspiro’s survey, see “What Our Employees Say,” Inspiro: https://www.inspiro.com/about-us/?tab=culture