Opinion

Hope, Opportunity, Prosperity, Elevation – Impact Sourcing IS Social Consciousness

Hope, Opportunity, Prosperity, Elevation – Impact Sourcing IS Social Consciousness

Although recognition of Impact Sourcing is increasing, businesses and even social organizations do not completely understand what it is and how it can alter lives. There are many myths about Impact Sourcing:

Myths

  • Unemployment paradigm: It is a problem that the government should be focused on and not the corporations
  • It’s just a charity: Impact sourcing is just another high powered word for charity
  • Superiority complex: There is no way a non-degreed person can learn hi-tech tools
  • Gatekeeper’s dilemma: If we let low qualified people in, we won’t attract truly smart employees

Call for action

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in their thesis stated that: “People get left behind when they lack the choices and opportunities to participate in and benefit from development progress. All persons living in extreme poverty can thus be considered ‘left behind’, as can those who endure disadvantages or deprivations that limit their choices and opportunities relative to others in society.”

We, in the United States, are facing several challenges. The pandemic is disrupting businesses, and as a result, we are seeing a never before experienced unemployment. We are also seeing social unrest driven by a lack of opportunity and an imbalance of opportunity with availability. Many feel that they are “left behind” and are pessimistic about their future. Increasing unemployment and dwindling employment opportunities have more severely impacted black Americans. The Economic Policy Institute, in a recent report, reported that there was an increase of almost 11% in unemployment of blacks due to the impact of Covid-19.  They assign this to the fact that, by and large, blacks are in lower-paying service jobs that have been more impacted due to shutdowns of businesses.

In addition to the impact on black communities, there are more unemployed youths – of all colors and ethnicity – impacted by the pandemic.. Most of them are either uneducated or under-educated and therefore are destined to work in lower-paying jobs or be unemployed. An Aspen Institute study estimates that there are some 32 million American youth without a college education, 4.6 million are between 18 and 24 years; the rest are young adults between 25 and 34 years. With the rapid integration of technology in life and industry, they are increasingly left behind. These unemployed youths do not see a future for themselves or their families, and as a result, they become dependent on social services for help, draining resources.

As stated above, there are prevalent myths that further impact these youths. These myths inform decision making by businesses, and result in businesses avoiding hiring and making investments in these young people. As a result, businesses focus on the educated workforce that is mostly city-centric. This creates pockets of higher unemployment, lower wages, and economically struggling families. When you look at the map of the United States, these pockets become evident through lower income which starves those locations from the necessary social infrastructure – healthcare, education, social services.

Impact Sourcing

Businesses have started to think about their social responsibility. In some cases, it is a meaningful business strategy while others view it as a necessary slogan to attach to their marketing programs. Impact Sourcing is a recent term that falls under the umbrella of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Wikipedia® defines impact sourcing as: “Impact sourcing, also known as socially responsible outsourcing refers to an arm of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry that employs people at the base of the pyramid or socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals as principal workers in the business process outsourcing centers to provide high-quality, information-based services to domestic and international clients.”

Impact sourcing encourages businesses to select their service provider based on its commitment to impacting a level of society that needs uplifting. Services are still provided at an economically advantageous rate and therefore, it is not a charity to promote social equalization. In recent times, several service providers have committed to engage disadvantaged communities and set up centers. In some cases, these centers provide jobs with lower and moderate skill requirements such as scanning documents, data entry work, data verification and cleaning, video tagging, and microwork. These services do impact the lives of workers and families but still, they are tied to different kinds of lower-skilled jobs with limited potential for a career and higher wages. Unfortunately, advances in technology will eliminate these types of jobs in the future and therefore, these workers will again be left behind and face poverty and unemployment.

Making an impact

There are a few service providers who have committed to recruit and train under-served people in newer technology, increasing the potential for career growth and mitigating the possibility of these people being left behind. PeopleShores® is one of those providers who have made a commitment to change the lives of people and impact both families and the community. PeopleShores’ mission is to empower under-educated youth with digital skills and technology careers. They Invest in under-educated youth with a comprehensive paid training program and subsequently onboard them as process associates (full-time employment with benefits). The skills provided include Robotics Process Automation, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, Customer Services, and back-office support and enable these employees to deliver high-quality services to corporations in the areas of Digital Transformation, and Technology Enablement.

Addressing the myths

The time has come for providers and customers to join to make impact sourcing a key aspect of their business.  Poverty and a lack of job opportunities cannot be left to government to solve. Government can encourage actions but it has other priorities. Viewing impact sourcing as charity downgrades its impact on society and provides an easy excuse to ignore it. Charity is a one-time action that may have a positive impact on society, but it doesn’t address the underlying problem in the long run. It also ignores the impact jobs and professional careers have on families and society as a whole. BPO service providers need to identify opportunities for making a direct impact on the targeted population and commit to it. Impact sourcing should not be viewed as a marketing slogan, and it should not be a short term job training program but a strategy to create jobs and build careers.  Both customers and providers should recognize the untapped intelligence, talent and motivation in a population that has been left behind.  A well-designed training and mentoring program can successfully teach newer technology and process management and have a long term positive impact. Businesses are looking for talent in these areas and should recognize this resource to fill the need.

 

As Mahatma Gandhi said: “The future depends on what we do in the present.” Time is now to assure that no one is left behind.

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