The 8th of March is International Women’s Day. It’s a focal point in the fight for equality between the sexes and in the movement for women’s rights.
This year, the theme is Choose to Challenge.
At SMTP2GO, our support team and review team consist primarily of female staff members. Over the last few years, we’ve noticed a concerning trend towards our female colleagues. We offer support via live chat, ticket, and phone, and we use our real names and photos, so you know exactly who you’re talking to. Our female colleagues tend to get a lot more harassment and abuse than our male counterparts, and we’ve even been asked at times, if clients could speak to a man.
Just to give you an idea, these are our Customer Support Agents and the amount of time we’ve been with the company.
None of us are newbies, and we all know our stuff. There’s a reason why we’ve stuck around for so long! Although our backgrounds aren’t necessarily in tech, we all come from research backgrounds of one type or another, which ends up being more helpful as technology changes so quickly on a day-to-basis, so we need to be able to find the answers we need, rather than knowing everything.
Charlotte graduated from the University of Arts in London and is an experienced journalist and editor, who has worked with some of the biggest news corporations in the world. She’s been working on online projects since the internet was in its infancy. She’s lived in France and Spain and speaks both languages fluently. She’s also a mum to two incredible daughters.
I’m Louise and I’ve got an International BA in Media Studies, Spanish and English, and although I’m from Ireland, I live in Spain “y hablo español con fluidez”. Alongside working for SMTP2GO, I also run my own business as a dog trainer and behaviorist and I’ve worked in social media marketing as a content creator for some of the world’s most well-known brands. I’m also a mum to my 2-year-old daughter and a foster-home for abandoned kittens and puppies.
Dominique is one of our state-side support agents. She studied English and Creative Writing at Georgia State University and has spent the last seven years providing tech support for companies like Apple and Support.com. She’s our API whizz and a genius.
Teresa has a Masters in International Business Management, also speaks fluent Spanish, and is learning Italian. She has traveled the world and has worked in three different countries. She is a problem-solving extraordinaire.
Jenn’s been with us for nearly two years. She has a background in sales, in the medical technology field. She’s taken a multitude of classes in communications, business, psychology, and multiple sciences, and most recently has started taking nursing courses to help with the shortage of nurses in the current pandemic. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is!
Ok, getting to the point- we’re a bunch of intelligent, educated women, but unfortunately, the greatest challenge that tips the scales towards the ladies is the abuse and offensive language that we often have to deal with. Amongst the team, there is generally an incident about once a week. We use Intercom for sales chats and general queries, so people don’t have to sign it to contact us, and there seems to be a link between anonymity and harassment. We use Zendesk for logged-in support chats and tickets, so people need to identify themselves before contacting us. Even still, people often type before thinking.
When I spoke to Lukas, Rick, and James about the issue, they wholly agreed that none of the three of them receive the number of offensive messages that we do. When I was making this video, I pored through thousands of chats and tickets to find examples. On Intercom, which is generally the worst, we block anyone who uses offensive language, and the chat history gets deleted too, so the examples I have are the milder ones that were available on Zendesk.
Before we go any further, I just want to warn you again, that the following segment contains extremely offensive language.
So, why am I telling you all this? Well, at SMTP2GO, the company puts our well-being first. As soon as we feel uncomfortable with a conversation, we have been given permission to wield the ban-hammer. The customer isn’t always right when it comes to offensive, sexist remarks- and it’s a pleasure to work for a company that stands up for us and who believes in protecting people over profit.
On a lot of support chats, people use fake names and stock pictures. We don’t. We are proud of the work that we do and we want to make sure that our customers can trust us. It’s why we’ve decided to choose to challenge and to highlight the issue, rather than pretending that it doesn’t exist. This isn’t ok, and it needs to stop. Anyone who speaks to a staff member like this will be banned, Yes, we are someone’s daughter, mother, sister… But that’s not what matters. What matters is that we are intelligent. We are strong. We are educated. We are workers. We are women. We choose to challenge.