There will be no discrimination against people who live in Kingston and St Andrew’s inner city communities who desire to seek employment when FLOW opens its new call centre in Jamaica soon, the company’s Managing Director Garfield “Garry” Sinclair has said.

FLOW disclosed last week that its call centre, to be called Customer Centre of Excellence, will be housed in Kingston within the next two years, and will employ over 450 Jamaicans in the facility described by company officials as state-of-the-art.

But the age-old concern by the people of the inner-city, that they are often discriminated against because of their addresses when they apply for certain jobs, resurfaced last week during an informal discussion with the Jamaica Observer.

“You think me coulda get a job a di new call centre, based upon where me live?” one young man posed to this journalist. That question was relayed to Sinclair, who was adamant that despite the fact that minimum educational requirements were not yet determined, where one lives would not be a factor when it comes to choosing employees.

“It’s safe to say that we intend to ensure that no discriminatory practices are employed in order to arrive at the final complement of staff of our contact centre,” Sinclair told the Sunday Observer in an interview last Thursday.

“We made the conscious decision to come to Kingston, recognising that it was going to provide jobs to Kingston and that there is a deficit of job opportunities, in particular in the communities for sure; and so the fact that we come here intending to add over 400 jobs should suggest an inclination to ensure that we stop the gaps, or create the opportunities where they are most needed. That would be most gratifying to us.

“So there will be no discrimination and people can apply from anywhere, not just from Kingston. The bottom line is if you can’t show up for work, you are not going to keep the job. If someone is applying from MoBay, for example, the question is going to be asked, how do you plan to do it? But the advertisement is not going to say only people from Kingston should apply.

“We are going to come out with a set of published requirements …the kinds of capabilities that we are going to look for are people with a passion for customer service, educated to minimum required levels I don’t want to say whether you need a first degree or a community college degree, or a certain number of subjects at high school … that hasn’t been determined yet. But you can imagine that you will need a level of education that will be commensurate with the kind of resource you want interacting with your customers that will enable them to develop a passion for serving customers. They will have to be independent thinkers, capable of assuming the responsibility for making decisions within established parameters, in order to delight customers,” Sinclair said.

He told the Sunday Observer that during the interview process, to be done by people from within and outside of FLOW, the typical straight-jacketed approach of focusing solely on academic qualification in making a final decision would be slackened.

“I will not be a part of the selection process, but I would imagine that there will be an eye on spotting talent and the experienced interviewers are going to be able to look past purely academic credentials in identifying the resources that we need to staff the business. Someone should be able to get a shot based on drive, initiative, passion, and quality of their interview, regardless of his educational qualification. There are a number of issues that you look at before deciding that someone is qualified, and academic qualification is merely one of them. Whether not having the academic qualifications required will preclude you from being considered at all, I doubt it. Hopefully the people who are going to do it will be experienced enough to get the best people,” he said.

Regarding the call centre, Sinclair said that the Central Sorting Office in Central Kingston has been identified as the possible location. The project, once implemented, will involve a 24-hour operation with multiple shifts.

“Not only will it be a state-of-the-art facility in the technology that we are going to employ to interact with customers, but with the environment that we are going to create for the contact centre employees themselves, it’s going to be home away from home for them. No detail is going to be overlooked in ensuring that the environment that they have to work in is going to be comfortable, friendly, and inculcate a passion for customers.

“We will have a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) system which will see us partnering with a provider, which we have not settled on yet, in order to get up and running as quickly as possible right off the bat, initially under our close supervision, and then turn it over to us to run as our in-house operation,” Sinclair said.

The centre will have, among other things, instant messaging capability, live chat, live service agents, virtual chat, Email, mobile app, and other tech-enabled support systems, in addition to social media interaction through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

“It’s the furtherance of our overall commitment to the BPO sector in general, as evidenced by the establishment of an incubator in the MoBay Freezone,” Sinclair said.

The company is spending US$60 million (about J$7 billion) on improving its Jamaica product this fiscal year. This will include building a mobile 4G network, expanding capacity and coverage, and retrofitting retail stores.