Tag: impact sourcing

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].

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.

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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].

How to Achieve Your Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility in Services Components | Blog

Companies today are socially accountable to their stakeholders, the public, and government entities. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) incorporates the commitment to ensure workforce diversity and to reduce carbon footprint. It matriculates down to every aspect of a company; thus, it also includes third-party services providers, Global Business Services (GBS) centers and a company’s supply chain organizations. How can your company influence CSR and continue to improve it in external services organizations when it is not a contractual commitment?

Read more in my blog on Forbes

Accessing Relevant Talent is New Value Proposition for Impact Sourcing in South Africa | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Earlier this year, Everest Group and The Rockefeller Foundation partnered on research in support of the Foundation’s Digital Jobs in Africa (DJA) initiative, the goal for which is to demonstrate the value of impact sourcing and promote its adoption in South Africa and beyond.

Impact sourcing is a business process service delivery model that provides employment opportunities to previously unemployed individuals who have not been meaningfully engaged in the formal economy. Generally, the individuals who are employed via impact sourcing belong to economically and/or socially disadvantaged backgrounds, or are differently-abled.

An overview of the impact sourcing market in South Africa in 2016
50 to 55 percent of the ~ 235,000 FTEs in the South Africa BPO market qualify as impact workers. This high share is because there is no, or limited, difference in the profile of impact and traditional workers hired in normal course of operations, meaning that although companies hire impact workers, they do not claim it to be impact sourcing.

Value proposition of impact sourcing in South Africa
As part of the 2016 engagement with The Rockefeller Foundation, our detailed business case included identification of six key elements to the impact sourcing value proposition in South Africa:

Impct Srcng SA 6 key elements

 

During our research, companies indicated that impact workers, especially those who have gone through training programs, exhibit better behavioral characteristics. These include higher adherence to timetable, lower absenteeism, higher motivation level, and lower attrition. In fact, as it relates to workforce stability, which is a critical component of the value proposition, the companies indicated almost 50 percent lower attrition among impact workers as compared to traditional workers.

Impact sourcing ecosystem in South Africa
A unique feature about impact sourcing in South Africa is the presence of a robust ecosystem comprised of BPO service providers, buyers, training academies, and government/industry associations. The presence of impact sourcing-focused training academies is a key element of this ecosystem.

These academies, such as Careerbox, Harambee, and Maharishi Institute, help buyers and service providers identify, screen, and train entry-level candidates through job readiness training or learnership programs. The thrust of these programs is on intentional talent development to ensure impact workers are employment ready. These programs include training on technical skills (e.g., computer literacy and language) and soft skills (e.g., adapting to a corporate environment, dealing with stress, and the benefits of stable employment).

In fact, providers including Aegis, CCI, and WNS have established their own in-house learnership programs as part of their intentional focus on impact sourcing.

What has changed since 2014?
Since our last study in 2014, there have been some significant positive developments in the impact sourcing market landscape in South Africa.

Perhaps the most important is the higher level of maturity exhibited by companies in understanding the benefits and challenges associated with impact sourcing, thereby, enhancing intentional adoption. Moreover, there has been a shift in the value proposition toward “accessing relevant talent” rather than just “cost savings.” In the past, companies had expressed concerns related to higher upfront training and the administration cost of impact sourcing programs. But our research established that the total cost of ownership (TCO) for impact sourcing is 3-10 percent lower than that of traditional sourcing. Finally, companies are increasingly adopting impact sourcing for the many different types of value it provides. For example, significantly lower attrition among impact workers not only contributes to improvement of the work culture of the organization, but also translates into better service delivery.

Outlook
As there is an intrinsic link between adoption of impact sourcing in South Africa and the expansion of the BPO market in the country, there are understandably concerns around security risks, the impact of automation technologies, etc. Nevertheless, our study shows that the desire to intentionally adopt impact sourcing in the country has increased, and that the model is expected to grow, albeit gradually.

For more details on impact sourcing see our additional insight infographic.

 

Liberty Source: Using a Military Spouse Talent Model to Energize Onshore Delivery / Part II | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

What if a service provider could build itself from scratch based on the learnings from the past two decades? Liberty Source, launched in 2013 as an impact sourcing provider, is trying to do just that in the highly competitive finance & accounting (F&A) outsourcing market. It has agreed to share its story with us as its business continues to scale.

Our first discussion with Steve Hosley, CEO of Liberty Source, provided an overview of their journey thus far. Our next discussion began our detailed look at Liberty Source’s talent model, which continues below with insights on its challenges and benefits.

Eric: Once an employee is onboard, what is the design for her or his development and career path?

Steve: Many organizations follow a typical succession planning and talent management process to aid in guiding their employees down their career paths in which they are aligned with the goals of the company. Where we differ is the frequency of this review and the involvement of our clients.

Because our mission speaks to providing job progression opportunities, our first client agreed to the formation of an employee development committee that meets on a quarterly or semi-annual basis to aid us in evaluating our talent management program for employees assigned to its account. This dialogue provides us with great insight into current and future required skills. While the jobs may be entry to mid-level careers at Liberty Source, the longer-term partnership we take with our clients allows us to create and grow “farm teams” to form talent pipelines that are extensions of our clients’ talent planning models.

Career paths are individually determined and then taken into account when we perform our regular talent review discussions. While employees may be in a role associated with a Finance and Accounting career path, some employees have indicated they would like to pursue other areas of responsibility. To support their development, we use creative networking and affinity groups in a different way to provide extra-curricular opportunities for them to pursue and grow their interests.

Eric: This is a fairly different type of people model. How have you adjusted the management model to reflect this?

Steve: First off, we commonly refer to our managers as coaches because we believe this is the kind of culture we are building. We have to focus on non-traditional techniques. Most of the BPO world is set up to manage in-person and face-to-face. The mission we are on changes the very nature of this relationship because the majority of our people are destined to relocate or telework. We have to manage virtually, create touch points that factor in different time zones and modes of communication, and manage client expectations differently.

We also allow for more independent and direct communication with the client. Ordinarily this is highly filtered by the BPO organization. We remove as much of the go between as possible to allow for the transparent process we promise to our clients. Once the employee is up to speed and producing, they own this relationship in most cases.

The typical command and control model that drives a directive, task-oriented communication style is replaced with a coaching and mentoring model. This view of leadership vs. management permeates how we engage employees to own their work more directly and learn how to transform it to a more efficient and scalable plan for the long term.

Eric: With all these modifications to normal people practices, it would seem that Liberty Source’s culture must be distinctive. Can you comment on what defines the culture?

Steve: Liberty Source is a place to come home to. Stable careers, flexibility in workplace and schedules, and with a common goal of being a place where employees come to transform their careers and customers come to transform their work. To achieve this, we have to translate what our employees may be used to and begin to train, teach, and coach on commercial culture norms and expectations. Some of our employees may be working in a sophisticated office setting for the first time, so we cannot expect everyone to come to the job without clearly defining rules of engagement and a structure to follow. We came up with a few simple principals to help guide a way of thinking and acting based on language they might already be used to. These six principles are:

  • Own it: We take personal responsibility to get our tasks done, meeting or exceeding both our clients’ and colleagues’ expectations.
  • Learn and lean: We look at every task or process as a learning experience, and don’t hesitate to lean on others for help.
  • Know our clients: We know what drives our clients’ success, and make decisions that support their business.
  • Know your numbers: We always know our performance metrics, and what we’ve committed to our clients.
  • No surprises: If something gets in the way of our performance, we immediately flag the situation to our management and our clients
  • No boundaries: Performance has no limits. We always look for opportunities outside our scope of responsibility to make a difference.

We also rely on a family approach to bring everyone to the table to resolve challenges. There is a level of honesty and support that comes from a family-centered view. You don’t get this in a commercial setting, and we tap in to it to gain trust and thus create strength.

Eric: What are the biggest opportunities and challenges you see for the talent model to continue scaling and evolving?

Steve: We still believe there is work to be done in better leveraging localized municipal community colleges as well as tapping into SaaS providers for training as well. Our size impacts the number of resources we can tap. To move past this, we are fortifying partnerships to expand our capability to expand learning and development goals.

The power of the Liberty Source family is in their sense of mission. It is easy to convey to this community that the success that you and the organization achieve now with our clients will create a wake of opportunity for future deserving spouses and veterans – and on behalf of those future spouses and veterans, we thank you for your commitment to Liberty Source. This message typically would not resonate in a BPO operation, but at Liberty Source it is “all hands on deck.” We strongly believe that the human capital model we have designed will directly translate to commercial differentiation in the market through low attrition and a committed workforce.

Eric: What are the benefits of the Liberty Source talent model in comparison to traditional BPO models?

Steve: Access to untapped, capable talent that fits – with our deep ties, affiliations and tools we have access to talent that is not readily apparent to the typical BPO. This is paying off in a couple ways:

  • Dedication: We have single digit attrition which is directly attributed to our dedicated military community and the culture we have formed. Typical BPOs have higher levels of turnover and much less social impact than we do. This retention creates the opportunity to transform work for our clients. We have a workforce that is highly engaged in the work of Liberty Source and wants to see us succeed like we’ve not seen in our previous commercial experiences. We’d like our current and future clients to see what can happen when full engagement is in action.
  • Agility: Our proximity to our clients and our EQ lends itself to less cycles and revisions. We get hand-offs right the first time.
  • Continuous improvement: This has long been an elusive goal of BPO providers. At Liberty Source we are committed to growing our employees and a big part of achieving that is through transforming our clients work so the type of Liberty Source work begins to elevate. This in turn elevates the abilities of our team.
  • Connection to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Companies should no longer think of their CSR activities independently from the operation of their company. At Liberty Source, we deliver services at a commercial standard and our clients also get the benefit of evangelizing about our amazing social story as well.

Eric: What could others learn from Liberty Source’s experiences?

Steve: Major misconceptions are tied to spotty résumés and unrecognizable military terms and experiences. This is the primary reason the military spouse has challenges in achieving their full potential. If you focus clearly on what defines success in the role and manage to that in your selection, in your goal setting, and in your rewards you can really achieve a lot and help someone really deserving achieve their potential. Lastly, given that many of our staff originate from a command and control hierarchy, empowerment needs to be consistently reinforced to generate their optimal performance.

Eric: Thanks for sharing these insights with us. It is stimulating to think about how much a people model and culture can be designed to align to a particular targeted talent pool. I look forward to hearing more about Liberty Source’s continued journey in a couple more months.

Liberty Source: Using a Military Spouse Talent Model to Energize Onshore Delivery | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

What if a service provider could build itself from scratch based on the learnings from the past two decades? Liberty Source, launched in 2013 as an impact sourcing provider, is trying to do just that in the highly competitive finance & accounting (F&A) outsourcing market. It has agreed to share its story with us as its business continues to scale.

Our first discussion with Steve Hosley, CEO of Liberty Source, provided an overview of their journey thus far. In this second discussion, we take a deep-dive on the talent model of Liberty Source.

Eric: What was the original vision for the talent model? How has that evolved over time and what are the reasons for the changes?

Steve: BPO has undergone an incredible industrialization over the past 20 years in offshore locations. Our original vision of the talent model for Liberty Source was to leverage this industrialization and build a human capital experience back into the forefront of BPO. The very first step in the creation of Liberty Source was to incorporate it as a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) – which is a sustainable commercial for-profit enterprise that is also “hard-wired“ to operate with a social compass of hiring and providing career “on-ramps” focused on leveraging the talents of an underserved, but very capable U.S. military spouse population. The fact that we incorporated our company based on our human capital model speaks volumes to how we value talent at Liberty Source. Flexibility is key to our employees, so we allow our military spouses to take their Liberty Source jobs with them and work virtually when deployed to another base. This vision and foundation has not changed one bit although our journey has taught us a number of things.

We are now much more skilled and informed on how to work towards this vision. Key learnings include, when you elect to work with a member of the military, it is more about the community than it is about one type of individual in that community. We naturally have expanded our definition to now be the military community of spouses and veterans. We also learned that when engaging with our Liberty Source “shipmates,” the company must remain inclusive and accommodating to their larger family to include active service members.

We have seeded our values, operating principles and employee handbook with many military cultural norms that translate well into a commercial environment. These learnings all culminated at our one-year anniversary, when we hosted the Liberty Source Board of Directors for the first time on-site at our operations center. A formal Board meeting and dinner with speeches was not in the cards after all the hard work and dedication of our “shipmates” and sacrifices from their supportive families. We had to make this about the whole family, not just our shipmates. It was time to roll in the snow cone machine, bounce house, and bring in all their family members, including any active military that were home on leave. It was our time to be inclusive and celebrate the Liberty Source Family as a whole.

Eric: How are elements of the people model different than for traditional BPO?

Steve: The differences are not fundamental, but calibrated to our specific employee model. When you want to go beyond industrialization, you begin to ask your employees to “figure it out” and gain the confidence to ask questions. We find this is the only way to go “beyond the green” and past what is expected from us daily. So with this population you get folks who are constantly transplanted into new military communities around the world while their service member is at sea, in the Middle East or in some unknown location. If their car breaks down, or a new appliance arrives and is not installed, they figure it out. This is a population that has been accustomed to figuring things out for their families. We leverage this strong proven skill and move it to the workplace culture. Let’s first discuss our employment value proposition. There are four quadrants we look at when talking about the employee value proposition.

  • Culture: The first is a sense of culture and a place to come home to. Our military families need a sense of place where they can continue to bond and contribute, so we build a family culture that creates a level of communication and comradery necessary to maintain the mission focus. Still today in many military circles, spouses are referred to as “and spouse” or even worse, “dependents.” At Liberty Source, the company and culture has been designed for the first time in a different sequence, “spouses and veterans.” This simple change in sequence and priority translates well to a strong and tight community at Liberty Source.
  • Benefits: While we offer standard benefits to all of our employees, we found that our employees carrying existing military benefits desired the ability to supplement certain aspects of their existing coverage. We, in turn deployed an a la carte menu approach allowing everyone the flexibility to supplement their existing coverage and still tap a meaningful benefits program. Additional time off and flex time benefits, in support of specific military events such as PCS – Permanent Change of Station and Veterans Day, along with a flexible workplace, and other virtual work strategies add a richer layer to our offerings that you won’t find in a typical enterprise.
  • Compensation: We look at our compensation programs as a total reward offering. We find ways to start them in at Liberty Source at the right place and salary even though the market, due to the impact of their frequent moves, may dictate a lower wage. We believe the career pathways to opportunity we offer are all part of our short term and longer term incentives when balanced with more flexible time off and supplemental benefits. In this way a larger need is still met in a rewarding total package.
  • Development: The largest value we offer is our development track. Think of the impact to a résumé when you now have work experience at a Fortune 500 brand (our customers) and when you don’t have to drop your career every two to three years. Because our employees no longer have to make that choice, they build a continuous development program through on-the-job learning, networking, and course work supplemented with internal and external training.

Eric: So how do you go about integrating that into your recruiting?

Steve: Like any employer we accept applications from all qualified candidates and give everyone full consideration based on their knowledge, skills, and experiences. What we have found is the group we are here to help most, our military spouses, does not have the typical résumé that shows solid career progression in all cases. The nomenclature and terminology used is also more conducive to small markets than large ones. We have developed a keen eye and supporting science that looks closer at résumés where large employers would not take the time.

Because of the unconventional résumés, we have developed pre-employment screening systems that are based on 100s of candidates and performance data that help us identify the proper, personal hard-wiring to be successful at Liberty Source and within the specific position. We have seen the “fit rate” improve by 47% over the past year as our pre-screening tool became more informed on performance results. We believe that our current 50% employee referral rate for new hires coupled with the development of our talent acquisition science that has taken place over the past year and a half will position us well for scale.

Eric: Is there anything unique about your training programs?

Steve: We design our work to be done from anywhere so there is a stronger commitment to documenting the processes and procedures, virtualizing the training materials and supplementing with online and third party partners to execute training and development via a virtual or blended learning setting.

In our next of our discussion, we’ll ask Steve questions about the implications of this talent model once its members are on board, including the benefits and challenges of managing such a culture.

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