How To Achieve Your Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility In Services Components

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?

Workforce Diversity

Although many companies now have initiatives to increase diversity in their internal workforce, some have not yet extended that to their Global Business Services centers or their third-party service providers. Ensuring workforce diversity in service providers and GBS centers is especially important if they are in offshore locations.

What does diversity mean in the local context? What is the workforce diversity structure in your company’s supply chain organizations? How can you influence those organizations to move further down the diversity path? And how will you know they actually do it? Is there a reporting commitment or a contractual commitment? Or can you collaborate with them in workforce planning? How about the suppliers of your company’s supply chain?

What is a company’s responsibility in guiding and influencing that diversity in services entities? Are we just paying lip service to diversity, or are we serious? Or is there a business case for diversity?

A few years ago, we at Everest Group worked with the Rockefeller Foundation on a study to analyze impact sourcing, a business practice intentionally bringing marginalized groups [KG1] into the services workforce. We confirmed in that process that there are companies and divisions of companies worldwide that specialize in going into rural, disadvantaged or distressed communities, taking BPS and some IT work to these communities in a secure way. Examples include communities of socio-economically oppressed people, persons with disabilities and long-term unemployed in Africa, India and in the US.

For example, India has huge communities where people are often oppressed, desperately poor, and face discrimination. Some sourcing suppliers take work into these communities and employ these people under their rural sourcing initiatives. It creates great employment, career paths for these people who do good work. They are paid well for the work, and their communities benefit from “brain gain.”

Another example of an underprivileged group is US military spouses. Our nation pays military members modest compensation; so, many of their spouses want and need employment but find it difficult to get jobs. Often, they are located near military bases in foreign countries. There is a wonderful group that specializes in using military spouses to deliver business process services work.

There are even service provider companies that explicitly target persons with disabilities for employment. An example is call center work that a person in a wheelchair can access and detailed quality assurance repeating processes that a person with autism can perform.

Companies that use service providers that give opportunities to persons with disabilities help people build career paths – people who otherwise cannot find good employment.  

Customers love it when companies use these talent resources. For example, in one situation we worked with a few years ago, when the employees of a large grocery chain found out their call center employed persons with disabilities, they wrote to their CEO that they and customers loved this practice. And the quality of their work was exemplary.

Committing to CSR will enable your company to do well by doing good.

Carbon Footprint

Another dimension of CSR is the carbon footprint. Almost all firms today attempt to significantly reduce their carbon footprint. But what is the implication to services in your company – your accounting and IT departments and your company’s IT vendors and BPS providers?

Regarding services, does a company influence a reduction of the total footprint, or does it just push the carbon footprint (effectively outsourcing it) to another part of the ecosystem rather than reducing it?

What factors allow for carbon footprint reduction? Is it a contractual issue or a co-innovation issue? Is it an issue of joint investments? Or is it preference selection in vendors?

Other considerations: What are the tools that will enable your company’s carbon footprint reduction? How can your company consistently deploy them? And how will the company know it happened?

Consider, for example, the implication of carbon footprint reduction by moving a workforce into a work-from-home (WFH) model? The COVID-19 pandemic pushed companies to adopt this model. Now on the other side of the pandemic crisis, some companies may matriculate back to less of a WFH model; but it is clear that many will continue to maintain a higher proportion of people working from home than before. What is the carbon reduction when that happens? And how can a company sustain that carbon reduction? Furthermore, should a company influence its supply chain organizations to adopt a WFH model, and how can they determine the carbon footprint reduction when they do so?

Help For Your CSR Commitments

CSR, whether it focuses on carbon footprint reduction or workforce diversity, is not a one and done. These are not destinations. They are journeys. Your company needs to not just demand it but also manage towards it and continuously monitor and influence improvement.

If your company commits to reducing its carbon footprint, keep in mind that there are groups within companies set up now to help you do that with their sourcing. For example, a leading service provider has a CSR executive, whose job is to help ensure that they reduce the carbon footprint of the teams delivering the work. They also drive diversity impact in the teams delivering your work.

Several major service providers have such operations; one even has an executive operating at the board level. If you indicate your interest, they will work to ensure that they reduce the carbon footprint of the services delivered to you so your company can meet its CSR objectives. Quite a few of the service provider firms have divisions to help you achieve your objectives through your supply chain.

We can provide you the names of service providers that have these services and put you in touch with the right teams who can help reengineer your work that you do through them and other groups to achieve your goals.