At the Clinton Global Initiative September 2022 meeting, former President Bill Clinton recognized research firm Everest Group’s pledge to grow the global impact sourcing market from its current level of 350,000 full time employees (FTEs) to half a million in three years.
“This is about the sourcing industry ecosystem joining forces to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives, rather than a plan to drive more business our way,” said Rita Soni, Everest Group’s Principal Analyst for Impact Sourcing and Sustainability. “We have a responsibility, given that this is a people-driven industry, to celebrate good work. This is not just ticking a box.”
Impact sourcing seeks to expand opportunities to demographics that are often overlooked. These include women, youth, those living in poor or rural areas, LGTBQ+ communities, people with disabilities and others burdened by discrimination. This is a complex and large population, which raises legitimate questions about how success will be defined.
“Most companies today have diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives, but in reality, they are focused primarily on diversity,” said Soni. “When we discuss impact sourcing, we are talking about the ‘I’ for inclusion. It addresses scenarios where people are specifically excluded, and initiatives to include them.”
The Rockefeller Foundation essentially defined the concept of impact sourcing in 2012, with Everest Group establishing its Impact Sourcing resource program that same year. Everest Group is now leveraging its position to promote meaningful collaboration among workers, employers and other stakeholders in the impact sourcing space.
“As a market research firm, we have a lot of data about what is actually happening in the industry,” said Soni. “With regard to the pledge, Everest Group is not providing direct financial support. Rather, our research, advocacy and coordination are in-kind contributions to grow the impact sourcing space.”
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) times its annual general meeting in New York to correspond with when the United Nations General Assembly is meeting. The CGI’s Commitments to Action represent “new, specific, and measurable projects.” Since 2005, members of the CGI community have made more than 3,700 Commitments to Action.
The geographic reach of the initiative is expected to build on the present distribution, with Asia-Pacific representing 58%, Africa 17%, North America 11%, Latin America 7%, Europe 4% and the Middle East 3%.
Impact Sourcing Pledge Lies With the Companies
It is important to note that Everest Group’s Commitment to Action focuses on three stakeholder groups –employers or service providers, enterprises that buy their services and enablers–, and that its participation is limited to “providing research and enablement tools, sharing best practices and engaging enterprises, service providers, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in collaborative efforts.”
As well, the CGI’s contribution is material only in terms of its reach and influence, with the organization acting as a convener promoting the initiative throughout the commitment period, which will include several annual meetings.
Therefore, in terms of the pledge, while Everest Group and CGI have committed to providing expertise and leadership, the onus on reaching 500,000 employees is really on the 41 companies that signed up to join the initiative and who will be doing the actual hiring.
“One company can only do so much. One industry, however, can have a significant impact”—Vidya Ravichandran, President and Founder at GlowTouch
“One company can only do so much,” commented Vidya Ravichandran, President and Founder of Louisville-headquartered GlowTouch. “One industry, however, can have a significant impact, and the Everest Group’s standing provides a good umbrella for us to gather under. It’s an ambitious plan, but as the saying goes, fortune favors the bold.”
Larger companies like TELUS International have also signed on.
“As a long time partner of Everest Group, we’re proud to be part of their Impact Sourcing commitment by actively hiring, motivating and promoting diverse team members,” stated Marilyn Tyfting, Chief Corporate Officer at TELUS International. “To date, hundreds of TELUS International team members have been hired and trained as part of our various inclusive sourcing programs. Many hundreds more have been hired as a result of targeted talent acquisition efforts.”
TELUS International has a range of programs. These include the HOPE (Helping Our People through Education) and Hearing Impaired programs, the “Work For Her” program, TELUS International University, partnerships with Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies across India and even initiatives to mitigate bias in artificial intelligence (AI).
Doubling the volume of human participants in these programs over the next three years will be a challenge. Soni from Everest Group has said that she is confident the global target of 500,000 can be achieved, but many of the organizations contacted by Nearshore Americas noted that the pledge will not result in a dramatic shift in activities.
“Our participation won’t change our approach, per se,” said Paul Sheridan, Principal at Eclaro, which operates the Eclaro Academy in the Philippines, a full-fledged academic institution with more than 3,500 students attending this year.
“We remain fully committed to the efforts and outcomes of Eclaro Academy, as we have been from the start. But the Commitment to Action certainly is a great way to keep the importance of impact sourcing top-of-mind for everyone at Eclaro, and to reinforce our own commitment to impact sourcing among our own employees and in the larger international business community,” Sheridan added.
Similarly, a company like Televerde, which has built its business model on employing incarcerated women to provide inside sales, demand generation and inbound customer support, plans to continue to grow with the initiatives it already has in place.
“Televerde set a goal in 2019 to provide 10,000 life-changing opportunities to disempowered communities over the next decade,” said Kellie Walenciak, Head of Global Marketing and Communications at Televerde. “However, we knew the likelihood of our business scaling up that quickly to achieve this goal was low.”
At present, Televerde employs 426 Impact Sourcing employees, the majority of whom are spread across four correctional facilities in the United States.
“The women are hired, compensated, skilled in the art of sales and marketing and certified in technologies such as Outreach, Marketo, Salesforce, Eloqua and many more,” said Walenciak. “This level of knowledge and job experience increases their marketability and provides a clear advantage over others in the hiring process when they’re released.”
The industry already has the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals’ (IAOP’s) “Champions Index” for impact sourcing. However, what is notable about Televerde –and other companies contacted by Nearshore Americas– is the level of transparency offered regarding the initiatives that are in place, and the target populations.
Everest Group, by making the pledge and having the Clinton Global Initiative convene on an annual basis, is also exposing itself to scrutiny and ensuring that there will be real, measurable results by 2026.
“The philosophy behind impact sourcing is a powerful one, but we’ve seen through the years that the concept and benefits of impact sourcing –including the ways it can offer businesses not only access to new sources of talent but also higher levels of employee engagement and lower attrition rates– has not been promoted to the masses,” explained Paul Sheridan from Eclaro.
“The more of us who come together to ‘get the word out’ about impact sourcing and to help as many businesses as possible on a global scale make impact sourcing a part of their culture, the better,” he concluded.