Category: ESG and Sustainability

The Ukraine-Russia War is Impacting Global Sustainability Initiatives and Derailing Progress in Meeting SDG Goals

The Ukraine-Russia War has hindered the progress of nations and businesses toward achieving global sustainability goals. Along with its humanitarian and economic consequences, the crisis has altered investment in energy, defense, and autocratic states. Can the enthusiasm the world felt just seven years ago about reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) be recaptured, and what does the future hold for sustainability enablement service providers? Read on to find out.

The optimism around achieving SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, has waned since its adoption by the United Nations in 2015 with the promise of improving people’s lives and preserving natural resources.

Global sustainability initiatives have been impacted by the Ukraine-Russia War, the pandemic, and supply chain issues. According to the UN, income for about 60% of the global workforce declined during the pandemic. Supply chain issues further exacerbated the economic contraction and humanitarian losses by inflating food and fuel prices.

The war is impacting progress in accomplishing SDGs, directly through its humanitarian and economic consequences, and indirectly through its effect on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investments.

The following three major challenges have emerged due to changing perceptions about ESG investments in light of this crisis:

  • The war has ramifications on global energy transition

The Ukraine-Russia war has slowed down the global energy transition to renewables in two ways:

Increased metal and gas prices slowing renewable technology investment – The region is a leading supplier of “energy transition metals” like nickel, palladium, copper, and lithium. Russia accounts for 7% of the world’s mined nickel and 33% of the world’s mined palladium, which are used in electric vehicle batteries and to reduce automobile emissions, respectively. Ukraine is the largest supplier of noble gases like krypton, which is used in renewable technologies. The war has reduced the already sluggish rate of renewable technology investment by increasing the prices of these metals and gases.

Ramped up coal production and fossil fuel investment – Russia accounts for 17% of the world’s natural gas supply, which is perceived as a transition fuel globally. Before countries develop sustained sources of renewable energy, natural gas is replacing fossil fuels due to its lower carbon emissions. The issue is more pronounced in Europe, as about 80% of Russia’s natural gas is exported to Europe, fulfilling about 40% of Europe’s gas demand. The war has inflated gas prices. Although the US has agreed to supply more gas to the region, this raises the question of sustained gas supply and puts pressure on European governments to accelerate their net-zero strategies. The market is optimistic that Europe will transition to clean energy faster than expected because it needs to become energy self-reliant.

Slow investment in renewable energy has further dipped since 2018. While renewable energy requires patient and risk-tolerant investors, fossil-fuel investment generates considerable returns quickly due to the massive existing hydrocarbon infrastructure. In the war’s wake, fossil fuels are seeing an investment frenzy, with Canada, the US, Norway, Italy, and Japan increasing production. Many countries across Europe again are ramping up coal production to avoid depending on Russian gas. In the short run, it seems that the world has taken steps back on global warming

  • Investment in defense is being reclassified as sustainable

Before the war, steering away from investing in arms and ammunition was considered prudent and ESG conforming. However, the war has brought back fears of traditional warfare. Now, many nations have started taking a U-turn from this narrative by categorizing defense investment as sustainable for national security and global alliances. Many global defense suppliers’ share prices spiked upward the first day Russia invaded Ukraine.

Many European nations, including Germany, Poland, and Sweden, have announced increases in their defense budgets. SEB Investment Management, a leading asset-management firm in the Nordics, has revised its sustainability policy to allow some of its equities and corporate bonds to be invested in the defense sector. With skepticism associated with traditional warfare restored, investors and governments are bound to pump more money into arms and other defense products.

  • Investors are steering away from autocratic states

Investors are facing heightened reputational risks for associating with authoritarian regimes. The boundary between investing in government bonds of an autocratic state and investing in companies conducting business in/with the autocratic states is now blurred for investors. Western investors are striking Russia off their investment list, especially if the investment is ESG-compliant. This can dampen investments in other autocratic states and the businesses associated with them.

How does the war impact sustainability enablement service providers?

The war has temporarily derailed the uptake of renewable energy investments. To start, this will impact enterprises’ Scope 2 emissions reduction goals. Scope 2 emissions are generated from purchased electricity, and reducing these emissions requires enterprises to turn towards renewable electricity sources.

The sustainability enablement technology industry also will experience a short-term supply crunch of semiconductor chips, which is an important input in producing sustainability technologies.

To deal with these choppy waters, organizations will need help from consulting and technology providers to shift their sustainability mix to access net-zero strategies to still achieve their committed targets for global sustainability initiatives.

Moreover, as the sustainability ecosystem matures, forward-looking investments in scaling undertakings such as enhancing trust in data and reporting (avoiding greenwashing claims), scaling operations to accelerate net-zero targets, and creating persistent governance systems will continue to create momentum.

To further discuss global sustainability initiatives, contact [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

You can read more about the impacts of Russia’s military action in Ukraine on services jobs and global sourcing in our blog, “Will Ukraine’s Invasion Have a Domino Effect on Other Geopolitical Equations?”

 

Consider Your Competitive Positioning in Your ESG Initiatives | Blog

Regulatory agencies are driving companies in the US and the EU to make commitments to comply with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria for corporate behavior and financial performance. Focusing on ESG initiatives and investments is growing in importance and starting to significantly influence the marketplace, particularly for services and products. Two trends are noticeable now.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

The Impact of Climate Change on International Business Strategies – Why Corporations Should Pay Attention | Blog

Acknowledging the reality of the current climate crisis, forward-looking corporations are adopting business strategies to make their organizations more resilient to its far-reaching consequences. Climate change can directly impact employee well-being, service delivery location decisions, and other critical business operations. Read on to gain a better understanding of its short- and long-term impacts and what to consider.     

“Jakarta is sinking,” screamed headlines as Indonesia announced moving its capital 2,000 kilometers northeast to Nusantara, on the island of Borneo. The move that could cost Indonesia upwards of $30 billion is driven by concerns of Jakarta’s submergence by 2050. Jakarta could be the first of many cities to be adversely impacted by climate change.

The debate on climate change has moved from whether it is real to when will it impact us. Climate change has become inescapable. The discussion on climate change featured primarily in social media, conferences, academia, and educational institutes have moved to boardrooms. Corporates are increasingly concerned about the short- and long-term impact climate change can have on their businesses.

Facing pressure from employees, customers, and investors to act on climate change, corporations are increasingly forced to acknowledge climate change’s economic, physical, and operational impact on their business and human capital.

Weather warnings

Hotter summers, colder winters, and an increasing frequency of extreme weather events like storms, hurricanes, and floods are all signs of the climate crisis. According to multiple studies, the earth’s surface temperature has seen the highest increase in the last 40 years, with 10 of the warmest years occurring post-2005. Scientists worldwide have reported record ice cap melting and glacier retreats.

The exponential increase in extreme weather events and natural disasters should be a more pressing concern. In 2020 and 2021, the world has seen a spike in natural disasters in the last few years, with a five-fold increase over 50 years. Climate change has led to warmer temperatures, leading to more frequent heatwaves and droughts. Sea levels have been rising steadily, coupled with frequent coastal region flooding.

Corporations taking notice

Corporations are now acknowledging that climate change can have a significant impact on business functions. Extreme weather events in recent years have disrupted business operations and resulted in the loss of human life, physical assets, and infrastructure.

Companies are trying to think beyond the short-term consequences already being felt and understand the long-term effects of climate change on international business strategies. In addition to business disruptions, climate change can have implications on employees’ mental and physical well-being and, in extreme cases, loss of life. In most companies, especially the global services industry, human capital is the most critical asset. Climate change can significantly impact business operations due to lower productivity, loss of work hours, and possible higher attrition rates.

As companies acknowledge climate change’s direct and indirect business impacts, the more forward-thinking companies have started adopting plans to make themselves more resilient to climate change and its consequences. Although this is just the beginning, a lot more needs to be done in terms of workforce and location strategies.

Location strategies need to consider climate change

Most companies are still more focused on the short-term, like building climate-resilient buildings and reinforcing existing infrastructure to make it more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Location strategy is a long-term decision with significant investment and sunk costs. Once a company decides to start delivery operations from a particular location, it is an irreversible long-term decision due to the high capital and labor investment.

Companies will have to consider the impact of climate change on future location strategy decision making, which traditionally includes talent, cost arbitrage, and conventional operating and business environment parameters. Climate change impacts different regions, locations, and geographies differently. Although two locations might be neighboring coastal cities, the impact of climate change could differ depending on the landscape.

Hence, it is paramount for companies to understand the effects of climate change on the particular location they are accessing and the degree of its impact. The holistic, long-term assessment should consider historical and predicted climate patterns, government mitigation measures and their effectiveness, and geographic factors.

In our recent viewpoint, Impact of Climate Change on Delivery Location Sustainability, we cover climate change’s impact on significant delivery locations around the world, across multiple parameters including rising temperatures, heatwaves, floods, hurricanes, storms, and rising sea levels with qualitative insights on select sites. The report provides a high-level view on short-term and long-term risk management measures to mitigate the effects of climate change on companies and employees.

To discuss further, please reach out to [email protected] or [email protected].

Also, don’t miss our webinar, 5 Success-driving Actions: How to Unlock Untapped, Affordable Talent, exploring key talent strategies in various geographies.

Real Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) in Your Supply Chain: Advancing Gender DEIB with Impact Sourcing for the Workforce of Tomorrow | Blog

Organizations that have a diversified workforce and prioritize providing opportunities to all will ultimately contribute to building a stable global economy. While gender equity and inclusion have improved over the last decades, many challenges remain, including discrimination/bias, underrepresentation in leadership levels, and lack of access to education and employment opportunities. Impact sourcing is a business imperative that will not only help companies reach new talent pools but also offer opportunities to marginalized communities and populations, especially women.

Empowering women through impact sourcing

Impact sourcing is a business practice in which companies intentionally prioritize service providers that hire and provide career development opportunities to people who otherwise have limited prospects for employment.

Companies are implementing impact sourcing models to elevate excluded groups and improve gender equality through opportunities such as training and employment in various regions, especially where educational and career opportunities are not readily available to all. By including impact sourcing initiatives, organizations can begin to embed gender-responsive and ethical procurement practices into their business models, and, ultimately, affect social-economic improvements, such as decreased poverty and increased employment rates.

A response by the approximately US$215 billion1 global services industry to address social exclusion, impact sourcing is not a new concept but can make a significant impact. Considering that third-party services is one of the largest corporate sourcing/procurement spend categories, with companies often spending 5% of revenue on services partners, the practice has the potential to not just open up new talent pools, but also provide equal opportunities.

The gender gap in global services

According to S&P Global data, the percentage of women in the total workforce in developed and emerging markets has averaged around 35% over the past five years and has been exacerbated by the global pandemic. The proportion of women decreases progressively up the corporate ladder. However, in developed markets, the percentage of women in senior management is even lower than the number of women within boards of directors.

By investing in impact sourcing, companies can combat unequal treatment of women in the workforce with specific impact sourcing strategy goals. For instance, they can focus on closing the gender gap at the base of the issue rather than reporting on diversity indicators at the top, such as the number of women on boards or the percentage of women’s ownership. This is part of a growing movement to broaden supplier diversity to gender-responsive procurement, spearheaded by UN Women[1].

How impact sourcing aligns with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Impact sourcing is one of the most credible and powerful ways to accomplish some of the 17 UN SDGs. As a result, it bolsters gender-responsive procurement, which is defined as the selection of services, goods, and civil works that consider their impact on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Impact sourcing naturally aligns with UN SDGs in the following ways:

Picture1 1 Goal 1 – No Poverty: Impact sourcing helps provide employment opportunities to marginalized groups, contributing to reduced income distribution gaps and eradicating poverty
Picture2 Goal 4 – Quality Education: The innovation in impact sourcing includes training, accommodation, recognition of unique talents, and career counseling for youth who may not have access to higher education
Picture3 Goal 5 – Gender Equality: Putting women at the center of economies will fundamentally drive more sustainable outcomes since individuals who identify as women are increasingly becoming part of the core workforce. Organizations can become more inclusive towards women by having a rigorous impact sourcing strategy
Picture4 Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth: Employment is at the core of impact sourcing, helping organizations offer good jobs to marginalized individuals
Picture5 Goal 10 – Reduced Inequalities: Growing inequality is one of the biggest roadblocks in achieving social progress and global stability. Impact sourcing can contribute towards inclusion and equal opportunities within and among countries

With lower attrition rates and higher corresponding levels of employee engagement, which results in lower costs and higher productivity over time, impact sourcing also provides a diversified talent pool to companies.

Impact sourcing encourages companies to help underserved populations, like women, move out of poverty and transform their lives and provide for their families. Corporations can engage in inclusive hiring practices that promote equal opportunity, diversity, skill development, and equal treatment for women. A responsible hiring mechanism by organizations can effectively contribute towards increasing employment opportunities and career development for this socially impacted and vulnerable segment of society, creating meaningful change in the world and taking an impactful step in the fulfillment of the UN SDGs.

Additionally, as the LGBTQ+ community enters the workforce, organizations may expand the definition of “gender” to become more inclusive in their impact sourcing decisions.

Impact sourcing use cases with gender-specific goals

Televerde

Established as a US-based for-profit sales and marketing organization in 1994, Televerde provides on-the-job training to more than 200,000 current and formerly incarcerated women in the US. As a purpose-driven company, Televerde helps these women reintegrate back into their communities.

Televerde has a global workforce of more than 600 employees, 70 percent of whom sit behind prison walls, and about 60 percent of its staff is comprised of incarcerated women. In addition to being paid fair market hourly wages, they receive training for the required skills and can also achieve certifications in sales and marketing, while earning college credits for completing company-sponsored training programs.

Not only does the Televerde business model help these women, but it has enabled the company to generate more than US$8 billion in revenue for its clients.

In 2020, Televerde formed its non-profit unit Televerde Foundation to further empower incarcerated women and serve as a driving force to fulfill Televerde’s mission to change the lives of 10,000 disempowered people by 2030.

iMerit

A global impact sourcing specialist, iMerit was founded in 2012 in rural India to bring a diverse talent pool from underserved backgrounds into the digital workforce. Today, 52 percent of its workforce is female, and, interestingly, the company was founded by Radha Basu, a technology pioneer who rose through the ranks when very few women did. By embedding purpose objectives into its business model, the for-profit impact sourcing firm has raised US$23.5 million in funding since July 2021.

Today, iMerit employs more than 4,000 data enrichment and annotation experts in Bhutan, India, and the US. It launched one of its first all-women centers in Metiabruz, West Bengal, a region where women have traditionally lacked professional career opportunities.

Sama

A for-profit training-data company, Sama focuses on annotating data for artificial intelligence algorithms. As one of the pioneers in the impact sourcing space, it aims to reduce poverty, empower women, and mitigate climate change. The company combines its technology platform and worker training programs to increase economic opportunity for those in underserved communities.

Sama, a certified B Corporation, operates global delivery centers in Kenya and Uganda and was named one of the “Best for the World” for workers in 2021.

By 2019, Sama had helped over 50,000 people move out of poverty. Its impact was particularly strong for women during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Sama was able to create a remote working model, allowing them to continue working despite lockdown orders.

FiveS Digital

An India-based certified woman-owned business and impact sourcing company, FiveS Digital has a workforce of over 1,500 employees at seven delivery centers in India, with a presence in Europe and North America. It started as a pure-play BPO company in 2009 and has entered the digital technology services domain over the years.

FiveS Digital collaborates with several non-profit organizations and supports young professionals’ upskilling needs, especially women from Tier-2 or Tier-3 cities and rural areas. With diversity and inclusivity as one of its key focus areas, it invests in opportunities and leadership roles for women. As a result of its continued commitment and focus, it was recently certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the largest third-party certifier of women-owned and operated businesses.

Organizations are choosing suppliers that aim to help disadvantaged groups

An increasingly used type of gender-responsive procurement, impact sourcing helps organizations discover initiatives to improve gender inclusion at all levels by partnering with leading impact sourcing specialists like FiveS, Sama, iMerit, and Televerde, as well as mainstream providers.

Enterprises can make a difference by partnering with service providers that employ groups experiencing exclusion, whether as an HR practice or by subcontracting to impact sourcing specialists. As businesses increasingly reach into untapped geographies for hidden talent, they will help build a stable global economy and promote inclusivity – a true win-win scenario.

Discover more about the benefits of inclusivity in the LinkedIn Live event, Why Inclusivity is Essential in Building Your Tech Talent Workforce.

[1] https://www.unwomen.org/en/about-us/procurement/gender-responsive-procurement

How ESG Fits into the Business Services Industry, with Everest Group | Podcast

In this episode of the Sourcing Industry Landscape Podcast, Rita N. Soni, Principal Analyst for Impact Sourcing and Sustainability at Everest Group, partners with SIG to give an in-depth view of Everest Group’s “purpose framework” and her focus area – impact sourcing. Tune in to hear more about how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) fits into the business services industry and what your company can do to incorporate and live by these goals.

Tune in on SIG’s website

Joining the Environmental, Social, and Governance Movement: Now’s the Time | Blog

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives seem to be on the minds of nearly every organization. Today’s environmental and social challenges are immense. How can we aid in improving the lives of all individuals and our planet so the generations after us can thrive, all while creating growth in the economy for the present? We won’t answer these questions overnight, but it’s easier than imagined for organizations to dive in and start setting up ESG goals. To learn why and how to get involved in this growing movement, read on.

Where environmental, social, and governance meet

The three facets, E S and G, do not necessarily go hand in hand; however, initiating one often affects another. Ultimately, all three move organizations in the same direction – bringing about change for the greater good.

When broken down, environmental, social, and governance elements have very separate definitions, yet they still intertwine and bolster each other. The E and the S, environmental and social, target inclusion, conservation, diversity, sustainability, labor practices, carbon mitigation, etc., and serve as those larger goals that organizations aim to reach. The G, governance, is where these goals and initiatives get hashed out, planned, and budgeted for, and where the reporting, tracking, and monitoring are performed. If an organization has strong governance systems, its environmental and social priorities may be structured with a very distinct idea of what the objectives, strategy, and results will be.

Putting governance systems in order garners greater environmental and social benefits

When an organization wants to be environmentally sustainable and/or socially responsible, it may incur upfront costs that impact profitability. But with forward-looking strategies, such as a cost-benefit analysis, organizations can plan and budget, so the benefits outweigh the costs. The long-term payoffs can include improving diversity and current workplace labor practices by meeting ESG mandates or making a cost difference for the business.

Achieving stronger and more impactful environmental and social results means that governance is staying ahead of the pace of change, whether regulatory, risk-related, or business opportunities. Organizations need to keep their eye on what’s coming to be ahead of the curve.

For example, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has recently proposed new transparency rules for organizations to incorporate diversity throughout the business as well as the board. They must also disclose whether they have reached certain diversity targets. Similarly, a recent regulation change in the US arrived when the Securities and Exchange Commission approved a proposal, the Board Diversity Rule, by Nasdaq requiring organizations to report on the diversity within their board. The purpose of the Board Diversity Rule is to promote greater diversity among the boards of directors of Nasdaq-listed companies and provide stakeholders with consistent board diversity disclosure.

Mitigating climate change risk is another area organizations are focusing on in business continuity plans. One method is having an alternative delivery strategy where work can easily be transferred from an area impacted by natural disasters to another site. This model of having smaller centers in more locations can benefit workers in rural communities by reducing migration from villages to cities and have a positive environment impact by lowering carbon emissions from vehicles with less commuting.

Governance systems that can stay current or ahead of these kinds of changes can better prepare and strategize for changes that could affect their organization in the future and make adjustments now rather than later, mitigating future roadblocks.

Why it’s easier than ever for organizations to find a business case for ESG

Most companies can easily present a business case for the vast majority of ESG initiatives. In addition to keeping pace with regulatory changes, organizations can also realize many benefits by carrying out environmental and social programs. Here are some examples of how different industries are making a difference:

Global Services 

Currently, with the “Great Resignation” and talent shortage, many organizations are turning to impact sourcing as a solution to provide an affordable, untapped talent pool. Impact sourcing can bring an organization qualified workers with skill sets aligned to match client needs, engaged employees providing lower attrition rates, and opportunities to fulfill corporate social responsibility and diversity objectives. At a bare minimum level, organizations need to begin designing talent strategies that incorporate diversity and pay equity into their workplace ecosystem if they want to attract and retain talent.

Healthcare

Another business case that is catching steam in the healthcare world is decentralized clinical trials (DCT)s, where data is collected from a patient through sensors or remote monitoring devices, eliminating the need to visit a medical site. A huge benefit from DCTs is the reduction of trial costs and timelines, attracting a more diverse patient population. DCTs are also easily accessible to patients who have mobility issues, and can reach a global audience, increasing inclusivity and diversity.

Technology

The tech industry also is doing its part to help by exploring ways to mitigate the impact software development is having on our carbon footprint. All major tech companies have made ambitious commitments to be carbon neutral or negative as the world attempts to confront the critical climate change dilemma and are competitively differentiating themselves through green computing strategies. This feat can be achieved through high-performance coding standards, self-adaptable solutions, and code reusability. Even blockchain protocols are joining the green IT bandwagon by exploring different mining models. Learn more on this topic in our recent green software development blog.

It’s never too late to get involved

Going forward, to start making a real impact, more organizations need to address challenges and set goals to better our societies and the environment. If we want to see change, now’s the time to dive in.

To learn more about ESG and how to get involved, watch our webinars, ESG in Services: What Sourcing Teams Must Know to Do More and Digital for Good: Shape Your Sustainability Journey.

For more information on how to implement ESG initiatives, reach out to [email protected].

 

Diversity is Gaining Ground in BPS – Why Your Organization Should Care | Blog

While not new concepts to the services industry, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of boardroom discussions on diverse hiring practices, especially with the ongoing talent shortage. Having a diverse workforce can provide numerous benefits, making it the way forward for the Business Process Services (BPS) industry. To learn more about why your organization should pay attention to supplier diversity, Impact Sourcing (IS), and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I), read on.

What do these terms mean?

  • Supplier diversity: Constitutes the percentage of diverse providers within an enterprise’s supplier portfolio. This overarching term means encouraging partnering with businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans and service-disabled veterans, members of the LGBT community, and other historically underutilized businesses, and small business concerns for business procurement
  • Impact sourcing: Socially responsible business process outsourcing that enables global companies to improve business outcomes by hiring and providing career development opportunities to people who generally have limited employment prospects
  • DE&I: According to datapeople.io:
    • Diversity is the demographic makeup of an organization’s workforce. The unique aspects that make one person different from another person is diversity, whether it’s gender, ethnicity, physical ability, age, national origin, socioeconomic background, religion, or a combination of any of those aspects (known as intersectionality)
    • Equity levels an uneven playing field by providing everyone with equal access to opportunity
    • Inclusion is the environment an organization fosters for candidates and employees. An inclusive workplace is one where all candidates and employees feel welcome. It provides all candidates with equal opportunities for employment, job success, and organizational advancement

Why should we pay attention?

Diversity is an important conversation happening right now because hiring individuals with diverse backgrounds and thoughts can result in greater innovation and more creativity. Bringing together different perspectives influenced by varied life experiences can enhance the creation, function, and delivery of products and services. Along with this richness in thinking come tangible financial benefits beyond lower operational costs. Thus, impact sourcing is impactful sourcing – for the bottom line too!

According to Everest Group research, hiring IS workers and having a diverse workforce can provide the following benefits:

Tangible benefits Intangible benefits
Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) TCO for IS workers is 3-10%   less compared to traditional workers because of lower attrition costs Greater Employee Engagement – Having an involved and motivated workforce generates long-term savings as companies spend less time recruiting and training
Operational performance – IS workers have a track record of meeting target Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Competitive advantage – Being viewed as a socially-responsible employer can help companies win business and attract employees
Multilingual/vernacular language services delivery – Diversity and impact sourcing help companies access a large pool of skilled, high-potential yet under-utilized talent Fulfillment of corporate social responsibility and diversity objectives – Companies can contribute towards their CSR goals by employing IS and diverse workers
Lower attrition – Attrition among IS workers is significantly lower than traditional workers Direct and indirect positive community impact – Five to six family members or related individuals benefit from every IS worker hired

Why now?

We’re seeing the Great Resignation and a talent war play out in the services industry. As companies reassess their talent and hiring strategies and working models for the future of work, they’re thinking about previously untapped talent in rural areas and tier-3 and -4 towns and cities. These locations have gained attractiveness due to the pandemic-induced mainstream prevalence of hybrid and remote working, ubiquitous high-speed internet, and infrastructure availability for a work-from-anywhere setup.

Hiring from diverse communities is a win-win for all, especially now. At the same time, establishing and practicing norms and values of inclusion and equity among employees will help foster more engaged and productive employees, lowering attrition and associated new-hire training costs.

Which service providers are actively focusing on diversity?

Growing numbers of providers are making this area a priority. Since diversity has been around for a long time, large BPO firms such as Startek, Sutherland, and Teleperformance, among others, have been focusing on diversity for its direct and indirect benefits. Smaller providers also are leveraging diversity and impact sourcing as the cornerstone of their talent strategies. Some examples include:

Supplier diversity:

  • Alorica – The largest minority-owned BPO and a global certified Minority Business Enterprise. It is also certified by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and the Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council (SCMSDC)
  • GlowTouch – A Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)-certified woman-owned enterprise
  • Triple Impact – Through its alliance with the Military Spouse Employee Partnership (MSEP), it has access to a vast talent pool of military spouses

Impact sourcing specialists:

  • Humans in the Loop – A social enterprise powering the Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions of the future, with a mission to improve the lives of conflict-affected people through the use of technology and innovation. It works with refugees and asylum seekers in Eastern Europe and the Middle East
  • Vindhya – An India-based company that employs and empowers people with disabilities, women, trans individuals, and others from marginalized communities, providing contact center support, data management, and accessibility testing services
  • Televerde – Empowers incarcerated women in the US and UK by providing training, education, and jobs to help them re-enter their communities and build meaningful and rewarding careers

DE&I:

  • Employee-led groups – Companies such as [24]7.ai, Cognizant, Comdata Group, Conduent, Datamatics, EXL, Infosys, NTT DATA, Qualfon, Sitel Group, TCS, Teleperformance, TELUS International, Transcosmos, TTEC, VXI, Webhelp, WNS, and Wipro have D&I committees, diversity councils, and employee groups
  • Partnerships – Genpact has multiple partnerships with organizations such as Coqual, Moving Ahead, and 30% Club to promote diversity
  • Company initiatives – Accenture is making progress toward its goal of having a “gender-balanced” workforce by 2025 and Mphasis is creating an Alumni Club to gradually integrate second-career women back into their offices

Does it work in the real world?

Impact sourcing is making a meaningful difference for people with limited employment opportunities. One example is Teleperformance, which hired more than 70,000 IS workers last year alone and employs 40,000-plus workers without secondary school education at their offices across the globe.

Teleperformance started hiring IS workers in South Africa in 2013-14, primarily for domestic delivery, and has consistently found these individuals achieve the same performance levels as traditional workers, according to an Everest Group study conducted with Teleperformance in 2016. Encouraged by these positive experiences, the company worked with a training academy to train and hire IS workers specifically for its international BPO operations.

Our interviews with other market participants indicate that even companies that do not measure the performance of IS workers have reported lower attrition among IS workers, and there are multiple instances of these talented workers growing their roles to senior and managerial positions.

Positive Outlook

Customers want to interact with organizations that have employees who look like them, and people also want to work for companies that care about their communities. While diversity and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) present challenges such as inadequate data disclosures, “greenwashing,” and difficulty in calculating estimated Return on Investment (RoI), they can be a vital part of a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy. They are thus becoming increasingly important as an enterprise procurement requirement.

We believe that good social practices should be embedded within work rather than be a separate undertaking. Diversity is not just beneficial for companies commercially but also reaps huge non-tangible benefits in terms of improving brand image, increasing employee retention, and generating goodwill – making it the way forward for the services industry.

To learn more about impact sourcing, read this related blog. If you are interested in discussing these topics, reach out to [email protected] or [email protected].

Making It Count: Why the Latest IPCC Report Should Compel Enterprises to Rethink the ‘E’ in Their ESG Strategies | Blog

The repercussions of climate change and global warming have been exposed in more ways than one over the past 12 months. The heart-breaking pictures of forest fires and increased natural disasters would cause even the fiercest of climate-change skeptics to look up and take notice. The latest reckoning has come from one of the top authorities on climate change – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Its recent warning of a ‘code red for humanity’ signals the urgent need for enterprises to strengthen their commitment to the “E” in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies. Read on for more on our continued analysis of this important issue and what steps your organization can take toward achieving a more sustainable future.

IPCC and its latest findings

As the United Nations body responsible for conducting scientific assessments on one of the gravest issues facing our world — climate change, IPCC conducts studies to determine its repercussions, the future risks that it presents, and avenues to mitigate the ravages of this phenomenon.

In its latest Climate Change 2021 report, the IPCC presents a realistic picture of the impact of climate change and details measures the world can take while there is still time to act.

Among the report findings are the following:

  • Human influence is unequivocally responsible for the warming of the atmosphere, ocean, and land, which has resulted in widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere
  • The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented. Case in point – in 2019, the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere were higher than at any time in at least the last 2 million years; also, global mean sea levels have risen faster since 1900 than over any preceding century in at least the last 3000 years
  • Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades

Image 1

What important role do corporations play?

Corporations globally bear a huge onus to prevent global warming and reverse its effects. Their activities also directly contribute to the likelihood of the world achieving the COP 21 commitment to limiting global increase in temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius and preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to the pre-industrial period. But the IPCC report warns that, unless impactful measures are taken, these figures are most likely to be breached during the 21st century itself.

And while corporations worldwide have started putting more emphasis on their commitment to do their part to mitigate their environmental impact through ESG initiatives, there is an essential need for them to pivot their ‘E’ in ESG plans towards concrete steps to more meaningfully contribute towards a sustainable future.

An analysis of the recent wildfires around the world demonstrates the urgency of ‘E.’ While wildfires are a phenomenon that take place during the hot and dry season, the recently exacerbated instances of these fires are immensely worrying. Here’s how the world has been increasingly grappling with forest fires:

Image 2 The Siberian wildfires

The eastern regions of Russia (constituting some of the coldest parts of the world, including parts of Siberia) have been experiencing unprecedented forest fires in 2021. From July to mid-August, this region had more than 300 active forest fires, and at one point, Siberian wildfires were bigger than all wildfires raging in the rest of the world. NASA reported that the smoke from the Siberian wildfires reached the North Pole for the first time in recorded history. Long story short – the Arctic is burning at scales never seen before, and global warming is a major culprit behind it.

  • The Greece wildfires

The devastating fires raging during mid-August in Greece have been described by the Greek Prime Minister as “a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions.”

The rising global temperatures could lead to increased heatwaves which would spell drier weather conditions, leading to more extreme wildfires and, in turn, contribute to global warming – a vicious circle indeed.

  • The U.S. wildfires

Wildfires in the U.S. are causing huge devastation. Recently, the fires in Tahoe Basin, California, have forced thousands to evacuate. As these fires continue raging in the backyards of some of the most prominent organizations of the world, scientists have said that climate change has made this region much warmer and drier thus rendering it susceptible to more frequent and destructive wildfires.

Where does the ‘E’ of ESG come into the picture here?

Corporations often engage in what is known as carbon offsetting to meet emissions targets. Carbon offsets are essentially meant to account for a company’s carbon production and balancing the scales on it. An example of carbon offsetting could be a steel company engaging in afforestation or reforestation to ‘offset’ a certain percentage of the carbon produced by their operations.

Image 3

But the recent wildfires raise pressing questions for corporations such as: What if the forest under their afforestation project itself becomes a victim of wildfires? Does such a corporation account for the carbon produced due to this fire rather than offset and report the same in its ESG filings? What lies beyond afforestation as a means of carbon offsetting?

The way forward for corporations

Here are some ways enterprises can take action:

  • Realize that carbon offsets, while helpful, do not present the comprehensive solution: Essentially, the risk of relying heavily on carbon offsets would convert efforts into a ‘balancing game’ rather than a ‘mitigating game.’ So, while any future emissions are being balanced by a reforestation project, what happens to the existing carbon already contributing to rising temperatures? Hence, enterprises must also take active measures to seek carbon footprint mitigation
  • Diversify carbon offsets: Instead of having high exposure to a certain carbon offset activity, corporations should diversify their offset activities – following the golden rule of diversification and risk optimization. Considering the marginal cost of abatement as a metric to calculate their carbon footprint reduction against costs could be a viable way forward
  • Report with transparency: Corporations run the risk of ‘greenwashing’ if they fail to communicate the actual impact of their ESG initiatives. Now more than ever, with increasing interests and scrutiny, corporations who are truthful with their ESG filings could reap more benefits than their counterparts who are not as transparent. Sharing information and experiences with other companies on the initiatives that create the most impact and the ones that do not will help achieve results at scale because when it comes to the environment, it’s always a ‘team-game’
  • Adopt ESG technology: With their massive and expanding footprints, enterprises must think about the different layers within the sustainability technology stack – from advisory and applications to data, cloud, and infrastructure. Learn more about the scope of services provided by the technology market around sustainability here: ESG tech stack- Everest Group

While voices on the other side may question the real impact and efficacy of ESG efforts by enterprises, we believe it is a little too soon to declare ESG as passe. As ESG gains more maturity, reliable data and studies will help corporations, governments, civil society bodies, NGOs, and other stakeholders course correct.

At this juncture, one is reminded of one of the classic dialogues from the movie Shawshank Redemption: “Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” But only with collective and impactful actions can we have the luxury of bearing the much-needed hope for a future without code-reds.

To discuss your ESG efforts, please feel free to contact Aakash Jaiswal, Senior Analyst, at [email protected], or Rita Soni, Principal Analyst, Impact Sourcing and Sustainability Research at [email protected].

Where Business Meets Purpose: Launching Our Inaugural Impact Sourcing Specialist State of the Market | Blog

We are very excited to share the launch of Everest Group’s inaugural Impact Sourcing Specialist State of the Market Report. The report will compare global services companies where the primary talent strategy is impact sourcing. I had the honor of conducting a similar study in 2013 with a focus on India for NASSCOM Foundation, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. But what a difference nearly a decade can make in the growth of impact sourcing.

Learn how to participate and receive the RFI

The increased adoption of this business practice has been driven by social movements across the globe that have prompted greater attention to equity and inclusion within society, impacting the business community. The United Nations’ launch of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 brought major public attention and an increased focus on global partnerships. The momentum was furthered in 2019 by the US association of CEOs Business Roundtable redefining the purpose of a corporation to promote an “economy that serves all Americans” and recognizing all stakeholders as being essential.

In recent years, many grassroots social movements are calling for social justice globally. Near continuous climate change disasters and the ongoing global pandemic have made the world feel a lot smaller and further highlighted the plight of marginalized communities. Finally, as a Gen Xer, I must give credit where credit is due – members of Gen Z are actively looking for purpose and are launching and joining impact sourcing companies to address needs in their communities.

With the combination of these factors, we have seen a growing movement for mission-driven companies within the global services industry. Today, impact sourcing specialists span the globe from developing communities in South Africa to middle-income parts of the U.S. and Europe. The companies are creating livelihoods for a wider range of marginalized communities with different operating models to accommodate these groups.

“Rural” has expanded from the Himalayas to Appalachian mining towns. Persons with disabilities now include neurodiversity alongside physical disabilities. Women are at long last being included in distinctive and meaningful ways in an industry that has struggled with diversity. And the list goes on to include veterans, refugees, native populations, and the incarcerated.

Impact sourcing operating models are also more diverse. Our initial analysis of the market shows many creative sales strategies, multi-country delivery approaches, innovative training programs, and unique employment models, to name a few. We have also learned about partnerships, M&A, and investor interest beyond the usual impact investors. This is an exciting turning point for the impact sourcing movement and space to be in!

Another big change since 2013 is the list of ecosystem builders has grown and strengthened the movement. We are proud to partner with leading global associations, networks, and platforms that are advancing impact sourcing including BSR/Global Impact Sourcing Coalition, the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP), Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA), Intelligent Sourcing, and many more.

Your help is needed to continue to build collective insights into this vital market. Our State of the Market study will provide impact sourcing specialists with a unique opportunity to compare themselves to peers. It also will provide buyers with valuable insight into the latest services the market has to offer, locations, and companies using impact sourcing as a talent strategy.

Connect with us to learn how to get involved with this confidential study and assessment. If you self-identify as an impact sourcing specialist, please click the participate link below to receive the Request for Information (RFI) packet. Thank you in advance for participating.

Participate and Receive the RFI

Resources:

Case for Impact Sourcing

What’s in a Name – Defining Our Journey toward Sustainability 4.0 | Blog

More and more companies today are undertaking sustainability-related initiatives in response to pressing global, social, and environmental issues. Leading organizations are finding ways to instill betterment into their businesses, from educating and involving employees in grassroots community efforts to embedding greater purpose into their core business models.

Companies have learned that good does not come from charities and non-profits alone. Businesses already play a vital role in the economy by creating jobs, fostering innovation, and providing essential goods. Adding sustainability initiatives helps considerably in creating shared impact. In the last few years, we’ve seen large organizations significantly increase their sustainability reporting. And companies are discovering that, in doing good, not only are they giving back, but they are achieving business value and competitive advantage.

With the pandemic and social unrest creating greater pressure for change, forward-looking companies are now taking their sustainability efforts to the next level and realizing the business advantages this brings. To learn how, read on.

What does this mean at Everest Group? 

Within ESG or Environmental, Social, and Governance, the “social” component is particularly relevant to Everest Group. Our industry is about people and driven by people, making it practical to interweave economic and social betterment into the business model from the base – while also adding the “good” into business practices. With the global services industry naturally being people-driven at its core, Everest Group can advocate for human capital development, or ensuring people are offered equal opportunities and chances to succeed.

Everest Group is prioritizing Impact Sourcing under the sustainability umbrella. This growing business practice involves intentionally hiring and nurturing careers for people from marginalized communities who have fewer chances of employment and prioritizing suppliers that do so.

With the UN declaring a ‘code red for humanity’ for climate change, the environment is also a critical need to address. With the breadth and reach of our industry knowledge, we can help to bolster the opportunity to leverage sustainability principles to make an impact. Through partnerships, Everest Group helps businesses embrace social and environmental initiatives that will also deliver business impact within the services industry.

Purpose framework

Finding competitive advantage in the growing sustainability market

Years ago, it was simple to say that a business existed only for shareholder profit maximization. Adding responsibility to business models brings it into the 21st Century purpose-driven economy. Now is the ideal time to acknowledge sustainability efforts with the issues we face today affecting all locations and industries, whether environmental or social.

Today, over 90 percent of large global enterprises are reporting on sustainability in some form, representing a great increase from around 70 percent about eight years ago. And ESG investments have increased among the top 30 IT service providers tracked by Everest Group by 51 percent alone since early 2020, all of which illustrate the growth of the sustainability market.

Enterprises and service providers are starting to see the benefits of embedding sustainability into their practices. Sales are rising because consumers want to know they are spending their money on products that lend to a larger purpose. Further, prospective employees are now beginning to navigate toward companies where they know ethical and sustainable practices are part of the business.

Moreover, large corporations are making bold commitments towards more diverse suppliers, lower carbon emissions, and incorporating environmentally-safe production processes.

 What does this mean for your company?

One of the initial challenges of becoming purpose-driven is putting a description and goal behind what the company wants to achieve. The evolution of sustainability has allowed companies to apply it at different levels and define their journey. As companies move through the levels, they discover just how much can be achieved. The conversation has evolved with a multitude of terms now used to define sustainability as illustrated below:

Screenshot 2021 09 14 093240

1.0 Checkbook Philanthropy: In the earliest stages, sustainability involves encouraging employees to give back, either through volunteering or choosing a non-profit to contribute to. Getting employees involved also inspires goodwill within the community and provides knowledge of the community’s needs.

2.0 Triple Bottom Line (people, planet, profits): Then, sustainability progressed to the next level, where the idea of the triple-bottom-line lens of people, planet, and profits arrives. Here businesses look to see if they can mitigate any effects they might have on people and the planet such as companies checking to see if they may be putting their employees at financial, health or any other risk.

3.0 Responsible Business: At this point, companies begin to think about how they can mitigate their environmental and social impacts by considering steps such as reducing travel or moving to a hybrid work from home model to lower emissions. This is when businesses also recognize the business opportunity in doing good, as previously described.

4.0 Purpose Driven: In this stage, sustainability becomes more purpose-driven within the company. Impact initiatives are not just about shareholder maximization; it is now about stakeholder engagement and becoming a purpose-driven business. Stakeholders help broaden the company’s network, whether it’s the community it operates in, the employees, or the planet. Level four broadens the “good movement” and says, “we’re here to serve.”

What do we call it and what’s to come?

We are using the term sustainability in the broadest context of ESG. But as we engage our stakeholders the words will evolve for context and include such terms as supplier diversity/DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and purpose.

Whether a company is starting at level one or moving quickly into the more advanced levels of sustainability, it should begin to plan a governance model that will allow it to successfully achieve objectives and measure them. We’re also beginning to hear new roles emerge for those leading the strategy charge and aligning initiatives across departments, business units, and stakeholders such as Chief Sustainability Officer, Chief Responsibility Officer, and more.

With ambitious global goals being set across the ESG spectrum, our objective at Everest Group is to celebrate the progress towards reaching them.

If you would like to discuss sustainability further or have any questions, please reach out to [email protected].

Request a briefing with our experts to discuss the 2022 key issues presented in our 12 days of insights.

Request a briefing with our experts to discuss our 2022 key issues

How can we engage?

Please let us know how we can help you on your journey.

Contact Us

  • Please review our Privacy Notice and check the box below to consent to the use of Personal Data that you provide.