- Traditional location selections for corporate sites has contributed to issues of unequal opportunity in society, according to Discover. The financial services company plans to open a new customer care center based in Chatham, a predominantly Black neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, and provide almost 1,000 full-time job opportunities for local talent over the next four years, according to a March 4 announcement.
- Customer care representative positions will offer a starting hourly wage of $17.25. Followed by customer service agent job opportunities, Discover plans to post "nearly 20 leadership job opportunities," in April with "plans to hire a first class of 15 agents who will start in June," according to the company. The positions will be housed in a temporary space as the full facility is scheduled to open by the end of 2021.
- Discover has selected Juatise Gathings to lead the center. Gathings has worked in three of Discover's customer care centers during her nearly 10 years with the company. "Her local roots, experience and expertise make her well suited for the role," Discover said in the announcement. The company is also planning on hiring minority-owned businesses in the renovations and operation of the center, according to the announcement.
Many employees expect employers to make direct, positive impacts in the workforce and in the communities they serve.
The work of diversity, equity and inclusion professionals in 2021 may include increased coordination with corporate social responsibility teams, as the events of 2020, including calls for racial justice, heightened a movement spearheaded by business leaders that seek to make serving communities a priority. "Expanding equity and opportunity across Chicago is possible thanks to the investment and support of corporate partners like Discover," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement.
Discover plans on taking a community approach with its latest endeavor in Chatham. Adjacent to the customer care center, renovation plans will also include up to 5,000 square feet of internal/external use space that will be available for use by community based organizations, the company announced.
"Discover recognizes that traditional corporate site selection has contributed to issues of unequal opportunity in our society, and we want to be part of the solution," Discovery CEO and President Roger Hochschild said in a statement. "We hope our commitment to Chatham will serve as a springboard for further economic development in the area; and we're excited to work with residents and community leaders and add to our award-winning customer service team."
The company aims to hire and train additional classes of 15 agents every three weeks and employ more than 150 agents in 2021 with the goal of filling the almost 1,000 positions over the next four years, according to the announcement. The intent is to have employees in the center start off working in-person, but Discover is prepared to offer a work from home option, if needed, and has "processes in place should the COVID-19 pandemic continue to threaten the health and safety of employees," the company stated.