The drivers for sourcing are quite diverse, but more often than not ‘cost savings’ is high on the priority list together with ‘focus on core business’ and ‘quality improvement’. Very rarely sourcing engagements are seen as an opportunity to increase happiness or change the world for the better. But there are exceptions and I would like to mention two of those here.
Lately I have come across one of several companies in the Netherlands (AuthentICT, site is in Dutch) that is exclusively recruiting employees with autism. Having such a disorder can be a significant disadvantage in a regular working environment as not every employer is able to create the right circumstances for these people to flourish. But in the right conditions, autistic employees are able to provide high quality work with great focus and dedication. Especially when performing repetitive tasks, their differentiator becomes a significant advantage. Where others loose interest and focus, employees with autism are able to consistently provide high quality output for instance in software development or testing.
Sourcing engagements with these kind of companies allow clients to benefit while employees can execute their work in a safe and structured environment.
Another example where outsourcing can make a difference is shown by a company called Samasource. Samasource has developed what they call a Microwork model by which they can deliver enterprise data services. These services are delivered by (mostly) women in third world countries and the impact on local communities is significant; for that reason the concept is sometimes referred to as impact sourcing.
Quoting David Bornstein from the NY Times: “Just as microfinance demonstrated that poor people are trustworthy borrowers, impact sourcing is demonstrating that people from villages and urban slums are reliable knowledge workers“.
Both companies are worth a closer look and deserve our serious attention when setting up engagements where the mentioned services are part of the scope. At the same time these initiatives show us that sourcing can be instrumental in making the world a better place. I would be very much interested in learning about other examples.