As the global marketplace evolves, companies are increasingly embracing outsourcing and offshoring as key strategies to meet the rising demands of consumers. In 2022 alone, the global business process outsourcing market skyrocketed to US$262 billion, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.
In a time when adaptability is paramount, outsourcing strategies provide businesses with the flexibility to scale up or down in response to their evolving needs. But this surge is driven by more than just the pursuit of efficiency and savings; it represents a larger shift towards the use of diverse global talent pools.
By assembling multifaceted teams that bring a range of skills and perspectives to the table, businesses are not only optimizing costs but also fostering environments rich in creativity and innovation.
Despite its numerous advantages, the outsourcing boom is not without its challenges. In particular, the ethical implications loom large, as the pursuit of cost efficiency often comes at a human cost. Countries such as the Philippines have been at the forefront of this conversation, where the quest for aggressive savings has led to inadequate wages and less-than-ideal working conditions for local talent.
Companies like Scale AI have come under fire for reportedly paying overseas workers as little as 30 cents for four hours of work, where the minimum wage in the Philippines ranges from US$6 to US$10 a day. These issues not only pose significant moral questions, but also challenge businesses to consider their influence on global communities.
As organizations continue to expand their international footprint, they must be conscious of their efforts to contribute positively to the economies they engage with.
In the face of the ethical quandaries presented by traditional outsourcing, a new paradigm is taking shape: outsourcing for good. This forward-thinking approach seeks to balance cost-efficiency with fair labor practices, ensuring that workers in offshoring locations are not only earning living wages but also given the resources to thrive.
It calls for businesses to be intentional in aligning their outsourcing endeavors with their core values and commitment to social responsibility.
In the spirit of this shift, several companies are pioneering a more ethical approach to outsourcing. My own company, Talanta, is committed to championing creative talent across Africa while fostering a work culture that not only offers long-term job stability but also drives sustainable societal change.
SupportNinja invests in continued education and wellness for their team members and dedicates resources to support a local orphanage in the Philippines. And certified B Corp Boldr provides communities in the Philippines, Mexico, South Africa and Canada with digital skills training and meaningful career opportunities.
With these considerations in mind, here are a few tips to ensure your outsourcing strategy is not only cost-effective but also aligns with your company’s values:
1. Cultivate conscious collaborations: At the heart of ethical outsourcing is the careful selection of partnerships that reflect your company’s moral and ethical standards. Seek out partners who are not just service providers, but champions of social responsibility, fair labor, environmental impact and the betterment of local communities. From the outset, clearly communicate your ethical standards and maintain an open dialogue to ensure these core values are not just understood but actively upheld by all parties, laying the foundation for a partnership rooted in integrity.
2. Ensure alignment of work quality: When selecting an outsourcing partner, draw from your experience in hiring internal staff. Evaluate if the provider possesses the talents, attitude and dedication that mirror the standards of your own team. Make sure they are committed to your work ethic, share your corporate values and have a proven track record of professionalism and performance. Don’t hesitate to request references or testimonials to validate their reputation as well as their ability to align with your business goals and deliver quality work consistently.
3. Invest in community development: Prioritize transformation over mere transaction and truly invest in the local ecosystem. For example, Talanta, as a brand within Imani Collective, helps to financially support our holistic approach to empowering local communities in Mombasa. This includes access to free in-house childcare, paid maternity leave, literacy classes and more. These comprehensive support systems will not only empower your workforce but also nurture the broader community, creating a virtuous cycle of growth.
4. Prioritize operational compatibility: Your outsourced team may operate across different time zones, so it’s essential to confirm their flexibility and ability to address urgent issues and meet deadlines. Establish clear expectations regarding availability and working hours to ensure seamless integration with your operational flow.
5. Encourage consumer engagement: Keep your customers in the loop when it comes to your outsourcing efforts. This not only empowers and educates them on the impact of their purchases, but also invites them into a partnership of accountability, reinforcing your commitment to living out your values in the public eye.
The journey toward responsible outsourcing presents us with an opportunity to redefine global labor standards, to innovate with compassion and to build a legacy that transcends profit. As business leaders, we have the power to shape an industry that upholds fair practices and contributes to a more equitable world for all.
So, as you venture forward, remember that each decision you make can ripple across oceans and borders.
Contributor Collective Member
Jenny Nuccio is the Founder and CEO of Imani Collective, which combines the dual power of a social enterprise together with a nonprofit organization to break the cycle of generational poverty in Kenya. Originally from Texas, she and her family have called Kenya home for the past 10 years. Jenny recently authored a book, ‘Let It Be Wild’, which recounts the exhilarating highs and lows of her journey thus far – from an entrepreneurial venture in elementary school to backpacking adventures in Peru, and at last finding her ‘why’ in Kenya. Her hope is that her story will inspire others to chase even their wildest dreams. For more information, go to https://www.imanicollective.com/