B2B organizations are used to segmenting customers and personalizing their messaging, but a new organization called Harmony@Work is offering a way to ensure they are also recognizing differences in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion in how they communicate both internally and externally.
A division of Toronto-based training provider Harmony Movement, Harmony@Work will offer workshops as well as certifications in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) skills. This includes a certification for DEI in customer service, which could address issues of unconscious bias in how organizations respond to questions, complaints or other interactions.
While consumer-oriented organizations see an obvious public relations value in positioning themselves as leaders in DEI, Ilaneet Goren, Harmony@Work’s director of Workplace Learning + Development, noted that B2B firms need to be equally mindful, given their corporate customers are still staffed by a diverse set of human beings.
“People are absolutely commenting on their experiences with various providers,” she told B2B News Network, particularly with the rise of social media channels. “Everything gets out, so to speak.”
Harmony@Work is taking an approach that combines factual information about DEI with subject matter expertise in areas like emotional intelligence to provide corporate clients with “a new menu of things to pull from” when they’re dealing with coworkers or customers who come from different contexts or different types of identity, Goren said.
Harmony@Work will also conduct a initial survey that acts as a learning needs assessment about how an organization works, the technologies or ways it communicates or interacts. Then, the focus turns onto the language they might be using, including terms that might be outdated or inappropriate and could offend or exclude. Even though a lot of DEI training might look at in-person encounters, Goren said the firm has used sample e-mails as a sort of case study to show how a message could be worded differently, or accessibility issues in how someone might need to consume a message.
Paying greater attention to DEI can lead to bottom-line results for organizations, Goren added. Metrics could include the ability of organizations to attract the talent they need, improvements in organizational culture based on engagement survey or, most critically, retaining customers who might leave based on a negative experience. Besides obtaining certifications, organizations to think about how they are going to change processes, among other things.
“Training is a piece of the puzzle — so what’s the rest of your puzzle?” she said.
While DEI might not always seem like a high priority in B2B firms, Goren suggested business leaders think about who is setting those priorities and whether there might be what she called “micro aggressions” causing problems behind the scenes.
“People on the receiving end of sexual harassments or other issues will say, ‘It’s awful, we receive it every day. For them, it’s a priority,” she said, adding that the impact can be more far-reaching that some might realize. “We deal with a lot of HR people, and the staff are their customers. In a sense, each and every one of us has customers. They might just be defined differently.”
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