Rethink’s 4th Impact Report: We Continue to See Progress in Our Work

It’s been a year since we began measuring our business with a dual scorecard: our financial results and our social impact results. This duality may seem odd for a typical for-profit business, but our goal of making an impact while seeing our company grow may be what the outsourcing industry exactly needs. The BPO industry is notorious for focusing too much on the bottom line and much less about the people that power the contact center operations around the world.

In our latest Impact Report, the fourth we have published since we began this initiative, our efforts continue to effect change, not only in our Agents’ lives but also in the way we measure and interpret the data. We have matured a lot in both how we’re making an impact as well as in our understanding of how to make that impact stronger and sustainable.

Last quarter, we had a surge in hiring due to the expansion and on-boarding of new accounts. Predictably, the total number of people impacted also increased, as observed by the number of dependents that each Agent now carries. The 1–6 ratio of Agent-Dependent continues with new Agents hired in our primary Filipino delivery center, giving us further proof of the BPO job’s powerful place in the Philippine economy. Next quarter, we will cross the 5,000 mark in total people impacted in the Philippines both directly and indirectly.

We’re getting better at measuring income, and what it means in our Agents’ lives. Specifically, we’ve again re-calibrated our income measurements. It’s vital that we are as accurate as possible, and this quarter we’ve come upon new, recent research by the leading economic stats agency in the Philippines, so we’ve calibrated against these learnings.

The results are thrilling. Seventy-four percent of our Agents are in the “middle income” bracket, and the 26% that aren’t, are all safely well-above the poverty line, according to the agency’s widely accepted definition. By synchronizing to this definition, in the future we will be able to objectively measure, according to academic standards, how quickly a household exits poverty through a BPO job.

As we’ve also learned this quarter, income is only one half of the poverty equation; the other half is consumption. This quarter we expand and clarify our measurement of the middle-class life we seek to build by identifying certain markers — like housing ownership & type, household composition, household goods ownership (which impacts the household cash flow), and as always, transportation ownership.

In the next quarter, we will go deeper into the household itself, as we’ve now learned that you cannot understand poverty and how to cure it without knowing how the household is behaving economically. A poor person is never an island.

Among our existing programs, we have two zero-interest micro-loans made, four calamity grants made, and 10 people leveling up in English Proficiency. These programs are turning into well-oiled machinery. They will continue to grow in scale as we do, and will continue to support our dream of making a BPO job a way out of poverty.

Mike is the CEO of Fair Trade Outsourcing, a people-first BPO company that uses the power of the free market to fight poverty and promote moral leadership.

Mike is the CEO of Fair Trade Outsourcing, a people-first BPO company that uses the power of the free market to fight poverty and promote moral leadership.