In a career spanning more than two-and-a-half decades, Dave Palmer has worked extensively within the contact center / outsourcing industry. Starting off as an agent for AOL in 1994, he has come a long way to acquire his current position as the president of Everise. During this time, he has sharpened his skills and expanded his knowledge in vendor and program management, strategic planning, business development, customer experience, process improvement, customer relationship management, and business process outsourcing.
Through all his professional outings, Dave has always worked as a senior executive with the responsibility of managing a very large workforce of employees globally. Being from an industry with a high percentage of women in the workforce, he says he is often left shocked and disappointed by the gender pay gap in the corporate world. In this chat with Women Icons Network, he speaks about the ways to make the workplace more friendly for female employees, role of male colleagues in supporting gender equality and several other aspects of an inclusive work environment.
Gender Disparity @ Workplace
Gender disparity, Dave feels, isn’t just an issue specific to any one industry. Though he realises he shouldn’t be surprised by this, he is still shocked and disappointed every time he hears about situations where there are gender-based gaps in compensation and opportunities. He believes it is the moral obligation of business leaders and organisations to ensure there is equality in both areas.
“It is critical to establish corporate frameworks that root out systemic inequity. This is equally true in diversity and companies that don’t embrace this will ultimately suffer. A good and effective leader should have gender equality as a priority in their strategic planning agenda,” he says. Another important aspect of employee retention, according to him, is the organization’s performance in terms of shouldering its social responsibility.
He insists that understanding the state of a business in terms of demographics is an important first step in determining whether and what changes are needed to support the workforce from a diversity and inclusion standpoint. He believes establishing clear expectations, educating the workforce, establishing the right frameworks to support Diversity (in all its forms) & Inclusion, and reinforcement by the top leadership in adhering to those principles is critical for any organization that states they have a Diversity & Inclusion agenda.
Despite the organisational goals, Dave feels, it ultimately comes down to individuals making up the organisation upholding the values held dear under the D&I initiatives. A company’s ability to drive positive employee experiences and growth in this regard is, in part, dependent upon men in leadership roles engaging and rooting out systemic inequality, he feels.
He thinks that men who work with and around women on a day-to-day basis have a responsibility to treat their female counterparts fairly in addition to participating in Gender Diversity and training programs. “Equally important is self-reflection on what they as individuals can do differently to ensure there is an inclusive workplace,” he states.
Though his own industry has more women employees, he suspects there will be a fairly large shift in demographics that are attracted to the contact center space in the near future. He reasons that the global pandemic has opened opportunities from a Work at Home (WAH) perspective, which he feels could be adopted by the industry as a more permanent approach. This makes it more important, in his opinion, for all employees to ensure in a personal capacity that gender equality is upheld in all aspects of professional experience.
Leading by Example
Fortunately for him, Dave has been a part of very progressive organizations who understand the importance of Diversity, Inclusion and Gender Equality. In each professional outing, he had the opportunity to not only participate and support in initiatives across all three areas but actively worked to ensure his direct leadership organization reflects the composition of that company’s workforce.
He led by example in all of these roles by eliminating the notion of gaps in pay by monitoring male vs. female pay ratios by position, being transparent about those findings, and taking the necessary steps to eradicate any negative trends found. This was his way to illustrate his personal as well as organisational commitment to equality. Another initiative that he took as a leader was to ensure any positions for advancement opportunities and candidates who apply, have equal access to those opportunities, irrespective of the gender, race or other leanings of the person.
In the 27 years that he has worked in the contact centre industry, he has come across a range of incidents that run from microaggression to offensive language and even harassment. Any time this happened, he would communicate to everyone involved that his personal tolerance level for such occurrences is zero. After this, depending on the severity of the act, he would act swiftly to correct the inappropriate behavior and reiterate expectations of all employees under his leadership.