Impact Sourcing

Igniting Change Through Social Impact: 11 Lessons Learned at IAOP Social Impact Meeting of the Minds (Part 1)

At IAOP’s second annual Center for Social Impact meeting, industry leaders and advocates came together to discuss their passion and dedication for the topic.

Each speaker began with a five-minute “rant” that sparked lively conversations throughout the full-day event on Sept. 20 at the Sutherland CloudLABS in San Francisco, with both in-person and remote attendees.

Topics explored included social sustainability in provider-buyer partnerships, the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI), environmental sustainability, and fostering belonging. Members of the social impact community from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, India, and across the United States shared their global perspectives.

Building on the momentum and energy from the first day, the participants from buyer, provider, and advisor organizations got down to work in smaller groups the next day. Read on for our coverage of the Igniting Change Through Social Impact event in this issue.

In introducing the program, Dan Lang, Senior Vice President of Sutherland and IAOP Thought Leader for Social Impact, encouraged open dialogue among the participants and noted that everyone was both an expert and a learner. Sutherland set an inspiring example by donating a mangrove tree in honor of each IAOP attendee, making a positive impact on the environment.

IAOP CEO Debi Hamill said she was thrilled to partner with Sutherland and the event attendees to work together to meaningfully move impact sourcing forward. “We are more inspired than ever and know that doing well by doing good matters,” she said.

Let’s unpack the speaker’s motivating words that provide valuable lessons and insights into the future for impact sourcing.

1. Impact sourcing is an opportunity to redefine outsourcing as an industry for good.

While outsourcing was originally viewed in a negative light for taking away jobs in the U.S. and giving them to workers in other low-cost countries, impact sourcing has allowed the industry to change that perception for good, Hamill said.

Maura Hudson, COP, Senior Vice President, Colliers, and IAOP Strategic Advisory Board Chair, reflected on the progress that has been made in advancing impact sourcing over the past eight years and stressed that this is the time to take the practice to the next level.

While her experiences as an impact sourcing end user have largely been associated with cost reduction, the scope needs to be expanded, she said.

“The opportunities are endless to create an even greater impact for impact sourcing,” Hudson said. “Now is the real opportunity for IAOP to make a difference.”

Jon Yarlett, founder of the Impact Sourcing Alliance, said impact sourcing has reached the point where it needs to be pushed to the mainstream without worrying so much about what to call it.

Impact sourcing isn’t just about creating jobs in certain geographies but providing equal opportunity for all marginalized individuals, their families, and communities – from refugees and single parents to incarcerated women and individuals with disabilities, he said.

The focus on Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals has made an impact sourcing a C-level discussion by all corporations, according to Kerry Hallard, CEO, of GSA-UK.

Ariel Giumarelli, Partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, said impact sourcing is an opportunity for companies to promote human rights and improve the industry.

Among the standouts making a difference mentioned by the experts were Vee Technologies’ HireMee, an initiative to connect students and colleges in India through a website and mobile app to make recruitment easier and faster.

PeopleShores also was spotlighted for replicating its successful impact sourcing model in rural India to economically challenged communities in America. The company has set up a robotics process automation technology delivery center that provides jobs to disconnected young adults in the Mississippi Delta.

2. Impact sourcing is a talent solution enabled by remote work in today’s competitive times.

Outsourcing is now in its third wave, Lang noted. In the first phase, jobs were moved out. Next, providers and buyers established delivery locations, or “put up flags,” everywhere in the world. Now, the talent pool is shrinking and shifting based on global population trends. India and China can’t provide the talent needed to fill the gap of 10 million fewer 20-year-olds in the workforce than those in their 40s.

With the ferocious appetite for young talent, providers need to sharpen their value proposition and demonstrate the positive benefits they can make through impact sourcing in revitalizing communities to attract the people they need, he said.

The pandemic demonstrated that working remotely is not an inhibitor to impact sourcing and opened up new sources of talent, said Michael Nacarato, COP, Senior Director, Transamerica.

“COVID was both a disrupter and a catalyst,” Lang said.

3. Artificial Intelligence can be a partner to support Impact Sourcing.

Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI), such as Chat GBT, can be a big game changer to support impact workers with operator training and decision support.

Susanne Richter-Wills, VP of Partnerships, EMEA, ScaleHub, shared the company’s solution that uses AI for skills matching, enhanced security, shorter onboarding, and greater inclusivity.

Through its Connected Women’s community, ScaleHub is working to increase digital worker’s skills to perform higher-level work and uses gamification to make training fun for workers. For more on its “collective intelligence” approach, see the related story in this issue.

“You can create a good collaboration between technology and people,” she said. “AI can provide access to talent and location doesn’t matter.”

Jon Browning, CEO/Board Chair of the Global Mentoring Initiative (GMI) said he views AI as helping to create jobs and not eliminating them. “AI can prepare impact sourcing workers better and attract us to the right talent,” he said.

4. Embracing AI while prioritizing safety and security is crucial in impact sourcing.

AI is now mainstream and here to stay, noted Mark Voytek, COP, Founder, Voytechnology Partners. While 75 percent of companies will be operational with AI by next year, a larger 89 percent lack security tools, presenting a massive risk as integration of the technology speeds up, he said.

Biases and transparency to ensure fairness in AI decisions are among the many challenges, according to Voytek. Protection, quality, ownership concerns, and emerging Intellectual Property (IP) lawsuits also are minefields. On top of that, adversarial attacks, data breaches, and shifting regulatory standards complicate the landscape.

“They rushed AI to get the technology out at any cost,” he said. “It’s great technology but it hasn’t integrated people and processes.”

As one audience member noted regulatory standards are in flux and usually come after the “dead bodies.”

5. Protecting against fraud is critical in Impact Sourcing.

Fraud has exploded globally during and after the pandemic, and has especially become an issue in retail, telecommunications, banking and finance, and the mortgage industry, said Christiane Laframboise, VP, Experience Team, Sutherland.

The risks have increased with remote and work-from-home models, requiring companies to constantly adapt for tighter security. Specialized fraud technology has become a “must-have” for all enterprises. Clients also are asking for tighter contracts to protect against fraud.

Fraud can lead to broken trust that erodes brand reputation and can impact the bottom line.

“My biggest fear of fraud is losing trust,” she said. “Losing the trust of customers is a cardinal sin. You need to invest heavily to prevent it. If fraud happens, make it your highest priority, be transparent, and work closely with the partner impacted.”

In addition to technology like cameras monitoring remote work, Lang noted that a cross-industry code of conduct is needed globally to ensure workers are complying with their work requirements.

See Part 2 of this story for more lessons learned.

Impact Sourcing is the practice of creating opportunities for those that would not otherwise have it.

Aimed at supporting individuals from marginalised communities globally, the model encourages businesses to engage with individuals who may have limited prospects and help recruit, train and develop them and ultimately provide them with a career, income and a better life.

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