Photo by Jimmy Chang on Unsplash
Retail serves as a ubiquitous touchpoint to modern life. While eCommerce continues to steadily increase in the market share of consumer spending, late 2019 statistics showed that consumers still preferred to spend in person, and indeed spent more money per transaction in person than online. This only underscores the point that the in-store shopping experience is more important than ever as consumers opt to visit retailers again. However, with 50% of consumers reporting discrimination while making a purchase, the retail industry has a long way to go.
Numerous calls have been made to diversify the retail industry in order to better serve the needs, tastes, and political demands of an increasingly diverse population. However, a problem still pervades the retail experience: toxic workplace attitudes. Here, social media screening is emerging as a practical tool in the hiring process to support a healthier workplace culture. By taking a more holistic approach to screening, retail companies may be able to mitigate some of the toxic behavior and unconscious bias that has historically plagued the consumer experience. This accomplishes two objectives. First, a healthier workplace that actively engages in driving out discrimination may begin to attract a more diverse candidate pool. And secondly, a more diverse and intentionally inclusive staff naturally attracts a wider breadth of consumers. Here’s how:
Holistic screening takes a more nuanced approach to the individual
While screening for criminal behavior may be a standard procedure for some positions during the hiring process, social behavior may have just as much to say about what makes a quality employee capable of delivering outstanding service. Depending on the individual, criminal background searches can potentially miss behavioral red flags--the type of problematic behavior that may be far more susceptible to seeping into the workplace than what a general criminal screening looks for.
For example, an automotive dealership recently came under fire for an employee who used a racial slur in a Facebook post to describe a customer.
Similarly, a Charleston restaurant employee was fired for suggesting an act of violence against a city council member on Twitter. These incidents can still be considered business-related behavior as this type of behavior compromises the quality of customer service by poisoning the workplace, potentially frightening away customers, and, when intolerance is involved, disenfranchising minorities on both sides of the counter. To that end, utilizing social media screening as a supplement to criminal searches helps retail companies catch violent, threatening, or intolerant behavior that may violate company policy and/or contribute to harmful customer interactions.
Existing customer service values can help drive the screening process
Retail employees are expected to conform to a standard of professional behavior and embody the values the retail company has chosen to highlight for their modes of service. As retail is heavily dependent on the success of customer-employee interactions, this makes a company’s values crucial to attracting their desired customer and sustaining sales conversions. Diversity and inclusion initiatives rely heavily on a values-driven hiring approach, and values are best demonstrated through a track record of social behavior. Luckily, these can easily be massaged into already-existing organizational values. Enter social media screening, which can function as a practical solution to screen for behavior that goes against an organization’s values. For example, a company’s values often include tolerance and inclusivity, Social Intelligence’s reports focus on a wide range of intolerant and bigoted behaviors. Similarly, for companies concerned with violent behavior, SI Reports have a standard filter to identify violent or threatening activity. These clear, business-related filters can then function as a clear, actionable tool to assist in adjudicating whether or not the candidate is an appropriate fit.
Driving out discrimination can help attract more diverse talent
Diversity means nothing without an inclusive culture. In order to attract and retain a diverse talent pool--and by extension, a diverse clientele--retail companies must create the ideal working conditions for the target talent: in this case, inclusivity.
For diversity, it’s a non-starter that the biggest stressor and reasons to leave is discrimination and intolerance due to an exclusive or homogenous culture. One of the quickest ways to begin chipping away at this seemingly overwhelming obstacle is to screen incoming candidates at all levels for intolerant behavior via social media screening. As retail organizations proceed through a typically fast and natural turnover process, harmful behavior can be organically rooted out by screening all new hires for potentially problematic behavior across multiple categories.
In turn, an organization that is actively taking steps to weed out discrimination within their staff is more likely to extend that same attitude to their customers, creating a healthier and safer environment not only for the wide range of people that come through their doors but for the communities that they serve as well.
What Can Social Intelligence do for retail?
Social Intelligence is proud to have relationships with many companies that are working to root out discrimination in their workplaces. Every day, Social Intelligence serves the specific needs of a range of industries by customizing reports to include online searches for ongoing concerns from intolerance to violence to breaches in HIPAA compliance to potential pedophilia. For retail clients, customer satisfaction is of utmost importance. Social Intelligence is here to help organizations navigate how to optimize their workplaces to better gain and retain customer approval.
About the author
Lindsey is an HR content writer and lifestyle blogger.