With a social impact mission of positively impacting one life or family for every person employed by the company, Sutherland can’t do it alone.
To achieve its ambitious goals of positively touching more than 40,000 lives, the digital transformation company relies on its workforce to voluntarily participate in social good efforts, as well as strategic partnerships with non-profits, government agencies and NGOs. These initiatives provide digital literacy, technical training, soft skills training, apprenticeships and more to highly disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.
Over the past few years, Sutherland has shifted its definition of Corporate Social Responsibility to one that is more focused on volunteerism, mentorship and upskilling of its target groups: unemployed youth 17 to 25 years of age living near the poverty line, single parents with children living at home and individuals who are blind, deaf or on the autism spectrum.
This approach is making a difference. The company’s long-term commitment to impact hiring, sourcing and investing is positively changing the direction of people’s lives for the better and influencing individuals, their families and communities both nationally and globally.
“There’s a direct correlation between poverty and levels of educational attainment. Therefore, any kind of certification, training or upskilling provided to this group pushes them closer to achieving employment and further away from poverty,” said Paula Hurlock, Manager of Social Impact Initiatives at Sutherland, who spoke at OWS2.0 on a panel of providers sharing their stories of “Doing Well by Doing Good.”
For its outstanding work removing barriers to employment and hiring in underserved communities, Sutherland was recognized by IAOP and the Rockefeller Foundation with the Global Impact Sourcing Award in the large provider organization category at OWS2.0. Chief People Officer Erica Bogar-King was on hand to accept the award alongside Hurlock.
Sutherland’s Chief Marketing Officer Dan Lang also spoke about the company’s social impact success during a mainstage keynote address on the “Future of Impact Sourcing,” delivered at the event in Orlando this February.
“As a course of action to combat youth unemployment, Sutherland has leveraged its reach in over 16 countries to both promote and practice responsible sourcing, along with the deliberate creation of internships and apprenticeships for marginalized youth living at or near the poverty line,” Hurlock said. “We do not treat these special people any differently than a person who has joined us from a top college or university.”
Sutherland decided to restructure its approach to impact sourcing about two years ago, after finding that some employees completing their digital literacy training in Jamaica lacked key soft skills and were not job-ready for positions within the company.
As a result, Sutherland partnered with Jamaica’s Human Employment and Resource Training (HEART) Trust/National Training Agency to implement a year-long sponsored-apprenticeship program that immersed candidates in the corporate environment. Apprenticeship positions in administration, human resources, and facilities and security helped recruits learn corporate norms and develop key soft skills. Many went on to find long-term, permanent roles in Sutherland’s core business or jobs with other companies based on their experience.
“Partnerships are critical,” says Hurlock, who began implementation of the new social impact/impact hiring model a year ago. “We don’t have the bandwidth to go out into the wider communities. We’ve found organizations working with the same target groups like ours, and have pipelines set up with them so we can track our progress.”
According to its Global Social Impact Tracker, the company last year impacted over 40,000 lives, including hiring over 1,500 individuals and having nearly 6,000 employees volunteer in its efforts.
And the work is far from done. Having established the impact tracker last year, Sutherland can fully collect data and share it in real-time across its locations. The goal for the next year is to increase volunteerism among employees and to get all of its employees involved and excited, Hurlock says.
Winning awards like the GISA raises awareness and helps to educate stakeholders about the value of impact sourcing.
“It is an absolute honor to receive the GISA,” she says. “It gives credibility to the work being done, makes adaption of the concept easier and helps our team members, senior levels and clients understand the business case. The more adopters we have, the move lives we can impact.”
Impact Sourcing in Action
Here’s what impact sourcing looks like at Sutherland around the world:
- In Colombia, Sutherland is partnering with a government agency to train and secure employment for youths in impoverished areas plagued by corruption and armed conflict in agricultural practices. The company has hired more than 300 poverty-stricken Venezuelan refugees that have migrated to Colombia.
- In the Philippines, where close to 90 percent of students can’t find jobs after completing their education, Sutherland is providing upskilling, certification and mentoring programs. Its employees volunteer to provide free English language proficiency and customer service trainings, and participate in fellowship activities with indigenous tribe members in the remote Davao region.
- In India, Sutherland Healthcare sponsored 10 underprivileged youths for vision technician training in Hyderabad in 2019, through a partnership with LV Persad Eye Institute (LVPEI), a not-for-profit, comprehensive eye care institution. Sutherland covered tuition and living expenses and the trainees were guaranteed employment after completing the training.
- In the U.S., Sutherland has teamed up with the Champion Academy to provide Extreme Mentoring to marginalized youth that struggle with crime, poverty and gang violence in their communities. By checking in with hundreds of students in the classroom, grade point averages have significantly improved.
- Sutherland has partnered with Microsoft over the past five years to provide free Microsoft Digital Literacy Training to marginalized and at-risk youth at its Sutherland Digital Empowerment Centers located in Kingston, Jamaica. Over 3,307 youths have been certified and Sutherland has committed to hire 10 percent of the graduates.
- In Bulgaria, Sutherland’s HR team in Sofia works with local support agencies for those with disabilities to identify, train and hire 2 percent of its workforce from this target group.
- Sutherland established a coding academy in 2018 to empower women to join the local workforce in Saudi Arabia. The academy has recruited and trained 50 Saudi national women hired by Sutherland post-graduation.
Visit the Sutherland Global website.