Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is fundamental to provide a variety of human-focused services worldwide and keep Agents Republic an ideal partner in customer service for globally expanding businesses. But how can you take advantage of remote work and what actions are needed to be more diverse and inclusive?
Agents Republic and its Commitment to Fostering an Inclusive and Diverse Workplace
Agents Republic and its Commitment to Fostering an Inclusive and Diverse Workplace
The future of work is here. Working from home becomes increasingly viewed as a norm instead of a temporary solution, even though it is not for everyone, as there will always be employees who prefer office locations. As home-based working becomes permanent, it is also an opportunity for employers having access to a broader variety of employees and to become more diverse and inclusive than ever before.
As a 100% remote employer since its foundation, Agents Republic has a reputation for being inclusive and diverse. These values are essential to provide its unique services and make the company an ideal partner in customer service for globally expanding companies. But how can you take advantage of remote work and what actions are needed to be more diverse and inclusive? As the company’s Founder and CEO, David L. Papp says: “There’s no secret formula, however you can always do something to improve on a daily basis.”
The Powerhouse to Good Business Practices
The importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the customer service sector is, fortunately, gaining more recognition over the past few years. However, there is always more work to be done. One of the biggest mistakes businesses are making today is believing that speaking out on workplace inequality is enough, however, success will only come when it has naturally become a part of your work culture.
The impact on diversity and inclusivity is no longer up for debate. Having a diverse and inclusive work culture will generate a team that reflects the targeted market and audience, as well as allowing individuals to feel comfortable and thrive in their work environment. This means creating a safe and inclusive workplace for people of all races, gender, disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. This article will outline Agents Republic and their efforts in maintaining a diverse and inclusive organization as well as the work they can do moving forward.
Benefits to a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce
A diverse and inclusive work environment with individuals from different races, genders, sexualities and abilities generates a pool of creative possibilities, skills, opinions and approaches to challenges that will benefit both the company and its customers. Expanding your talent pool exhibits the possibilities for a combination of ideas and practices, which will have a major reflection on the atmosphere of your organization and the productivity of employees. At Agents Republic, the incentive of inclusion and diversity has been a gamechanger for the globalization of the company.
“We are relatively flat and promote the dissemination of new ideas regardless of where the individual is at. It is not uncommon that our agents suggest process improvement ideas which get implemented” says Adam Antal, Director and Co-founder of Agents Republic.
Customers want to be able to relate to the company and desire to become a part of a community that replicates people just like them whether it is racialized individuals, disabled or members of the LGBTQ+ community. A Harvard business review article suggested that diverse and inclusive companies had brought up to 19% higher revenues from innovation and 9% higher profit margins. Every staff member brings a new experience to the customers, how positive that experience depends on a sense of individuality. With more diversity and inclusion, decision-making practices will improve as 60 percent of companies from a recent study have examined that their business decision-making practices have improved since collaborating with a more diverse company.
The Cloud-based Model and its Promise to Diversity & Inclusion
One of the aspects of Agents Republic’s vision is to create a better world by enabling people to work wherever and whenever they want. In doing this, the company aims to incorporate diverse thinking, practices and ideas naturally. As a multilingual global business with thousands of agents in multiple different countries and time zones, staff work from their own homes and choose their own schedule. Managers believe that incorporating this type of work culture, allows staff to work according to their lifestyle and their own needs.
Agents Republic’s mission from the beginning has been to empower businesses on a global level by providing multilingual customer support at scale. Working within a global workforce, agents aid customers from all different countries, genders, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and disabilities, therefore it is vital that everyone involved in the network business is accepted and supported. When asked about the correlation between Agents Republic’s business model and diversity and inclusion, CEO David L. Papp said “We aim to make people’s lives better. We support customers in multiple languages in all timezones every day, while our systems enable people to work wherever and whenever they want. We care about customers and care about each other, anyone has a voice and everyone is supported.”
Respect and honest communication between colleagues, clients and stakeholders has been an important corporate value to the company “We wouldn’t exist without these values. The hundreds of ways we communicate with our diverse bodies and minds, set us up as an ideal partner in customer service for globally expanding companies.” says Papp.
Agents Republic is a globally operating cloud-based customer support service centre, based on a fully decentralized business model. No large cubicle warehouses, no hybrid solutions. The design of this model not only benefits a nearly unlimited reach to a global talent pool for clients but also supports staff who are disabled, elderly or living in an isolated settlement. “We aim to improve inclusion of disadvantaged groups in our hiring process. Some of our best agents are agents with disabilities” Says Antal.
As Agents Republic has a reputation for inclusivity and diversity, we interviewed a former agent living in Perth Western Australia, Grace King. She has a vision impairment and was first introduced to Agents Republic when she volunteered as a research participant for an AI project back in the winter of 2019. She moved on to become an agent and worked on the project with other research participants and was one of the top three agents to get the most participant referrals, many with visual impairment as well. “The process was very accessible, the company was pleased to work with all the people I referred and those that I did, loved the experience as well,” says King “I was listened to, encouraged, supported in my work and in recruiting other people with disabilities, it was never a problem.”
The opportunity to work from home on your schedule allows the opportunity for people with disabilities to work in a comfortable environment. Many in-house contact centers use cubicles that may not be suitable for agents living in rural areas, need wheelchair access or elderly people who cannot travel to and from work. “Our business model enables us to provide valuable opportunities for people living in remote areas (e.g. on hard to approach islands, in the North, etc.) or who live with disabilities as no commute is required since all our agents are working from their professional home offices,” says Antal.
Only Performance Matters, Not Where You Come from
The importance of maintaining an inclusive and diverse workforce is not to measure a person based on external factors such as their appearance, disability or gender but solely on the rate of their work performance. To ensure that staff are hired solely based on their performance skills, Agents Republic’s hiring process seeks to evaluate one’s customer service capabilities rather than their backgrounds. “Agents are recruited through a multilayered process. Best agents are selected based on merit and fit to the client’s business. In the selection process, we use third party personality assessment tools as well to provide additional unbiased datapoint to the process.” Says Antal. This tactic is something the founders feel that they have done differently than many other customer support companies and have benefitted all parties involved within the process. “Anyone can be a part of our “Republic of Agents” with a passion for customer service, regardless of race, gender identity, cultural or religious origin, also regardless of their physical location on Earth.” Says Papp.
Over the past few decades, women in the workforce have become a normality than in previous generations. Agents Republic seeks to normalize employment as well as the promotion of any persons regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. “We have many women leaders already in managerial positions and we hope we can attract more underrepresented talent,” says Antal. “We don’t make difference between genders and ages in remuneration, only performance matters.” According to research conducted by McKinsey & Company, having an equally gendered and diverse team is 21 percent more likely to increase profitability as well as 27 percent more likely to exhibit creative work practices. Taking accountability when these practices are not administered is one of the first steps for business leaders to make a change.
Working With and Embracing those with Disabilities
As Diversity and Inclusion is one of the companies corporate values, we asked King to reflect on her time working at Agents Republic “[Agents Republic] is a model employer, the work was ultra-flexible, I could work anytime I wanted without a set pattern which is great for people with vision impairment, especially for inconsistent sleeping patterns, there was never any pressure.” When comparing Agents Republic to other employers, “I was never questioned why I could not do things like everyone else.” says King “I was told my disability could be an asset to the project and I was then trained to do quality control as well.”
Companies need to recognize the value in every individual, people with disabilities should not be discriminated against but embraced “Visually impaired people may have decreased ability to see, but they are usually more powerful with other senses, such as with hearing. Highly sensitive hearing is an unbeatable sense over the phone, and for certain areas, such as for quality assurance, it is a true superpower.” Says CEO David L. Papp.
People with disabilities are not always given equal employment opportunities, globally, the unemployment rate for disabled people is between 70-90% according to the United Nations. “People with disabilities are a huge untapped market, in the US, only 33% of blind people are employed. With a program like Agents Republic, there are so many opportunities for people that cannot work from an office due to mobility issues and they can get a good and well-paying job” says King.
How to Become More Diverse and Inclusive? – Steps to Take Moving Forward
Agents Republic is determined and committed to ensuring consistency with efforts to be an Inclusive, Diverse and Equitable organization that cares for and supports its employees, clients and customers. As the team says, they can not even imagine running a successful customer service company without these values.
Agents Republic seeks to lead by example in their hiring practices, process innovation and corporate culture in maintaining and improving diversity and inclusion. However, there is always room for improvement and more work to be done at any company. One of the most important things businesses can do is to embed these values in daily life throughout the organisation and commit to do better.
CEO David L. Papp gives his suggestion for other business leaders working to become more diverse and inclusive “There’s no secret formula, however you can always do something to improve on a daily basis. Make sure you interview a wide variety of applicants, your job posts appeal to diverse people and support employees trying themselves in different positions, even though they don’t have the required skill set. If you follow your employee’s passion more than your requirements, you will be surprised in a very positive way.” So as different skills, different backgrounds and different approaches give a greater value to a business. It is a win-win for everyone. “Listen and support each other, talk about it, stay open to variety and actively maintain an inclusive culture. If your corporate culture is based on inclusion, your diversity will be given, it does not need to be a goal.”
As our world becomes hyper-connected and e-commerce blurs the lines between geographical markets, customer support is facing a paradigm shift in the way it has structured its business processes and its approach to technology.