APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham United FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.
Today she advises a woman on a lack of diversity in the workplace. She also helps a woman who finds her job frustrating but has to stay to pay her bills.
Q) I started a new job three months ago and I’ve since realised that I’m one of only two people of colour in the whole organisation of 75 employees.
I feel strongly about making sure people of all ethnicities are represented and championed in the workplace, but as both my colleague and I are junior, I’m not sure how to establish a diversity network.
Do you have any suggestions?
Nancy, via email
A) I couldn’t agree more that people of all ethnicities should be championed in every workplace, and it’s disappointing to hear that your company doesn’t appear to be making this a priority.
It’s great that you want to drive this change, and you shouldn’t let your position within the company (no matter how junior) stop you. Start by thinking about what you want to achieve.
Speak to friends to see what their employers are doing and what they think is successful.
Consider activities where your company can focus inwards on the education and development of existing staff, such as equality, diversity and inclusion training or lunch-and-learn sessions where inspirational people from diverse backgrounds talk about their routes to success.
Plus think about outward-facing activities, such as how the company can attract and recruit people from a more diverse background. Then organise a meeting with HR and talk them through your proposals.
You won’t be able to do this on your own, so ask them to help you set up a committee where you can work with a team to create timelines for when the network will launch, as well as a calendar of events.
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Q) I’m in my 50s and work in a call centre. I’ve recently moved to the customer complaints department, but I’m getting so frustrated at the company’s policies for dealing with the issues customers raise.
We follow a script and have a list of things we’re not allowed to tell customers – instead of just helping them solve their problems. If they ask to speak to a manager, we’re told to say there is no one around.
I’m starting to dread going to work, but I can’t quit as I need to pay my bills. Please help!
Sue, via email
A) As someone who is often on the phone to a customer service rep reading from a script and not helping with my specific problem, I agree it is incredibly frustrating!
Of course, it doesn’t make sense for a company to let their staff fix problems without specific guidelines, but there also needs to be a degree of common sense.
Speak to your manager and use examples of customer problems you have faced where the script has made it difficult to get to a resolution, and say what your recommendations would have been.
If your manager is willing and able to allow you some flexibility, then this could give you the autonomy to do your job better.
If not, explain that while you are still meeting your targets and enjoy working for the company, you think your skills are better suited to a different role in another department, if possible.
There’s no harm in keeping an eye out for jobs at other companies while you work through this process, too.
Sometimes when you become frustrated with a company and you think they lack integrity, it’s time for a change.
Compiled by: Claire Frost
Karren can not answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.