A place where women can go from ‘shop floor to top floor’

Are contact centres female friendly?

A place where women can go from ‘shop floor to top floor’

11th March 2020

By Leaha James

Traditionally, contact centres have been heavily female orientated. It has been reported that 71% of the global contact centre workforce are women. This has led some to label contact centres as “female friendly workplaces”, with the perception that this type of work is more suited to women than men. 

In less favourable terms, contact centres have been dubbed “female ghettos” comprising of demanding service work, flat career structures, and glass ceilings that limit progression. It’s been suggested that while women occupy the majority of the contact centre positions, men are represented as a higher percentage within team leading or higher management positions. 

Here at Connect Assist, although we have slightly more females within the contact centre, the narrative of women finding it harder to progress through the ranks doesn’t fit. Our management team is 75% female and our leadership team is 40% female.  We have an exceptionally well balanced female voice from the top down.

We are growing quickly, recruitment and progression have been prime focuses for the company, and creating a culture where men and women can thrive throughout the business has been a key element to our success.

Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to progress in this way.  As Head of Contact Services, I have been surprised by what I could achieve within this industry.  

I joined Connect Assist as a Support Advisor after graduating from university. But I freely admit that I never had any intentions of making a career in a contact centre. As the company has grown, however, so have I, with the opportunity of regular and steady progression. 

I think I underestimated how much I’d enjoy working for this company. Everything about it – the goals, the culture, the people – is perfect for me. Plus, I have been given the opportunity to grow and develop, something I know it’s not the same at other companies. Employees here are empowered to come forward and make their career aspirations known, and then we’ll work with them on a plan to make it happen. 

My story from the shop floor to the leadership team isn’t unique at Connect Assist. In fact, the person who I succeeded as Head of Contact Centre Services had a similar journey. 

I initially took on the position as maternity cover, but ended up assuming it permanently. I think there’s always a benefit of coming from the shop floor and applying that perspective and knowledge at management level. 

Inclusive culture

Due to the nature of the service that Connect Assist offers, plus the structure of the business, there is not a “lad culture” in the office, like you can get in some contact centres.

We’re not operating in a sales-driven environment, which means the laddish culture doesn’t pervade at Connect Assist. Our sales team, which is primarily male, doesn’t feel like a boys’ club – they communicate daily with contract managers, the majority of which are female. They have a great relationship that’s void of traditional ‘lad banter’ that’s sadly become a sales stereotype in other industries. I think it’s very important we continue to create an inclusive culture throughout the organisation.

Going forward, I’d like to see more women who are given the chance to prove themselves throughout the business, but keeping our core values and balance in place.  Personally, being able to benefit from this business culture has been a real plus, I’d like to be able to encourage others to follow in my footsteps. 

So, let’s ditch the idea of “female ghetto’s” and look towards the terms “Inclusive workplaces”. I’m excited to see how contact centres progress in the future and how we continue to progress as a business. 

 


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