Guest writer, Jeffrey Puritt, posted a blog on csrwire.com called Impact Sourcing: Outsourcing for Social Good? This blog describes the positive effects of outsourcing an offshore call center and the potential of new job creation using BPO. The blog summary is below:
Though its advent still seems quite recent, the outsourcing industry is going through a noteworthy maturation process. For evidence, one can start by looking at India. Best-known as the largest outsourcing destination for the Fortune 500, India’s outsourcing dominance is now being slowly eroded by other regions with young, educated, lower-cost workforces like the Philippines, as well as locations offering multilingual talent like Latin America and Eastern Europe.
More country leaders are realizing the positive aspects that outsourcing can bring to their people and their emerging economies.
For example, though poverty is still a major problem in India, wage increases from the booming outsourcing industry of the late 1990s and early 2000s have helped create a large and growing middle class. The same is happening in the Philippines now, with more young people benefiting from stable, in-demand jobs.
But even as the industry enters into the equivalent of middle age, outsourcing still suffers from a long-standing image problem. As I write this, there is a bill on the floor of the US Congress to explicitly discourage outsourcing in the call center space. Introduced by Congressman Tim Bishop, the “US Call Center and Consumer Protection Act of 2013,” would bar corporations that send US call center jobs overseas from receiving federal grants and loans.
There is another side to this discussion. What rarely comes up in the outsourcing discourse is that there is a growing segment of the industry that is capable of, and focused on, delivering positive social outcomes, particularly in the developing world.
Business as a Poverty Alleviation Tool
Some outsourcers will struggle to fully embrace the benefits of engaging in socially responsible business. For them, the status quo of cost-cutting and margin management persists, and they’ll continue to seek lower costs at all costs. But over time, I believe they too will evolve as local employees, communities and the clients of BPO services insist upon partnerships that combine bottom-line results with meaningful social change.
BPOs aren’t compromising their own profitability by contributing to developing-world communities. Rather, they’re taking the long view and understanding that the more investment they put into their community, the more value it will cultivate.
It’s an investment that pays off. According to the TELUS International white paper, when a business helps improve the lives of its workers and their communities, it enables the business to improve its value for customers far beyond cost savings. Investing in people and communities actually improves the quality of the firm’s products and the effectiveness of its services as their employees reward their employers with a higher degree of loyalty, engagement and productivity.
Our challenge, however, lies not just in producing sustainable results, but in evolving the public perception of the outsourcing industry, particularly here at home in North America. That means spreading the word, and working with all willing partners to continue to create real, measurable change. Domestic employment opportunities are a real concern; and this issue warrants real discussion and meaningful, progressive solutions. But in my view, putting the outsourcing genie back in the bottle and pretending that we don’t all live and work in a global village, however, is not the answer.
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