Usually sustainability is thought of as cutting down CO2 emissions and planting more trees. But sustainability is more than just acquiring a green image. It is another way to look at your own company, the external environment and thus also your sourcing strategy. Organizations can actually profit from better financial results by a smart application of the modern aspects of this theme. An example:
A large oil and gas company outsourced a part of its BPO activities to Asian supplier. This supplier had contracted another co-supplier for data-entry activities who used illegal under aged employees. A non-governmental organization found this out by accident which resulted in a lot of negative press for the oil and gas company. In order to outperform the competition they outsourced several activities, but this backfired due to severe damage to the corporate brand.
In this example the oil and gas company miscalculated the risks related to sustainability, which caused damage to their brand as well as to the ROI of the BPO contract. More and more organization are watched by governmental and consumer organizations on their social responsibilities. The fear of reputation damage is therefor often the starting point for the sustainability clauses in the contract. Sustainability is thus often approached as a risk and cost driver. For a smart BPO supplier this may also present an opportunity to prove the client wrong.
Being able to demonstrate as a BPO supplier to potential clients how it can add value in the area's of social responsibility, human rights, ethics and environment without additional cost, it obtains an edge over other suppliers.
Senior business managers are already demanding action from internal departments in the area of sustainability and it is not more than logical that a broader set of sustainability requirements will be included in future BPO contracts.
Sustainability may thus be a theme where client and BPO supplier can work closely together to make a difference in the marketplace.