Our Social Impact/Impact Hire Model
At Sutherland, we have a significant social impact mission: positively impact one life or family for every person employed by our company. We fulfill this mission through our worldwide commitment to inclusion — removing barriers to employment, empowering individuals and ensuring our employees represent and reflect our target communities across the globe.
Sutherland has moved away from traditional definitions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and now strives to assist and empower marginalized youth and other target populations to become the best versions of themselves.
The company is shifting to a definition that is more focused on volunteerism, mentorship and upskilling of unemployed youth and other target populations. And doing so in real and tangible ways, ultimately changing the trajectory of their lives on both a national and global level.
Our Three Categories of Intervention are:
- Sutherland exposes the wider community to education, technology, or career guidance, for example through mentorship, motivational and empowerment sessions
- Sutherland invests strategically to create value, whether it's through the support of Digital Empowerment Centers (DECs), education interventions, life skills training or any upskilling or base-level technical training activity in partnership with government and non-governmental organization (NGO) or community-based group.
- Impact Hiring
- Sutherland hires individuals from vulnerable groups that fall within the three target groups, as described below. We report these impact hire numbers when tied to a Sutherland investment in the training that led to their direct employment either within Sutherland or in another sector.
Our Three Target Groups are:
- Young people ages 17 - 25 who live at or below the poverty level
- Single parents 17-25 with one or more children living at home
- Individuals who are blind, deaf, or on the autism spectrum
Impacting Lives Globally
Impact hiring is not a short-term commitment for Sutherland — we are in it for the long haul. Sutherland and our employees are dedicated to improving the lives of the most vulnerable among us, changing the direction of people’s lives and positively impacting individuals, their families and their communities for decades, perhaps even generations.
In Colombia, our employees work with non-profits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others, to reach those who live in extreme poverty — some of them in long-corrupt, violent communities with little access to clean water. We train and hire these young people from remote communities as interns, offering them a peaceful path to a better life.
"We are impacting people's lives every day at Sutherland. This is a people's business, so we need to take care of the people." Maria Clara Correa Arango - Social Impact Lead for Sutherland Colombia
In Rochester, New York, where a growing percentage of Sutherland’s workforce is comprised of single parents, our employees donate thousands of volunteer hours a year. In addition, through our work with Champion Academy, a regional non-profit, we conduct ongoing classroom checkups in public schools, helping young people living in poverty increase their grade point average, including one who went from a 0.7 to a 3.5 GPA in six months.
Paula Heiler, Social Impact Lead for Sutherland Rochester, remembers the young man, whose name is Kenny, well. She met him during her first year of volunteering with Champion Academy.
“He was a troubled kid, and got kicked out of Champion Academy,” she says. “He was out on the streets. Six months later, he came back and went from a 0.7 GPA to a 3.5. We get to experience his success with him. Volunteering really makes a difference. Your heart is in it.
In the Philippines, the company trains and hires individuals living in rural poverty, including those who live in remote areas far removed from major metropolitan cities such as Manila. Many of Sutherland Philippines’ employees live and work in highly impoverished areas across the country.
Catherine Salceda Ileto, Social Impact Lead for Sutherland Philippines, and others have been expanding their outreach to those who live in extremely isolated communities in this nation of more than 7,600 islands. They travel hours by car, by boat and by foot to reach and teach the rural poor in large part because it helps their own emotional and spiritual wellness. It makes them feel grateful.
An example of this is an English language proficiency program that Sutherland supports. Cathy says that more than 30 Sutherland employees volunteered to mentor 30 disadvantaged junior high school students over the four-week program. By the end, the volunteers were working so closely with the students that they felt mixed emotions when the students graduated from the program.
"The Sutherland volunteers were sad to be parted from their mentees, but they also saw the huge improvement in self-confidence among the students. Two of the students couldn't say one word of English in the beginning, but by the end, they were speaking very well." Catherine Ileto - Social Impact Lead for Sutherland Philippines, regarding an English language proficiency program
Bernice Garcia Villaran, Human Resources Head for Sutherland Philippines, volunteers for the company’s Social Impact program. She says numerous Sutherland employees volunteer with Resources for the Blind Inc. Philippines and a program called Jobs for People With Visual Impairment. As part of the program, Sutherland employees assist blind and visually impaired workers whose job options would otherwise be extremely limited.
Bernice also makes a point of working with the rural poor across the Philippines. She recently drove 10 hours and hiked another 3 hours to reach indigenous tribes who need support.
“I want to be there,” she says. “I want to give back to the community.”
Our Commitment in Action
Demonstrations of Sutherland’s commitment can be found in many communities where we live and work.
In Jamaica, where a large percentage of our workforce represents impact workers, our employees train and hire young people who grew up in dire poverty with little-to-no education and who otherwise might be lured into a life of crime and violence.
Sutherland Jamaica supports skills training for thousands of individuals through multiple Digital Empowerment Centers (DECs). We have also gone a step further, hiring more than 200 of the centers’ graduates to work in one-year apprenticeships with our company. Many of these apprentices, many of whom are young single mothers, are now permanent employees with Sutherland, work for other companies or organizations, or are studying full-time to earn their university degree.
"The course offered at the Digital Empowerment Centers is a magical, transformational tool. It's easy to learn and easy to pass, and in turn, gives young people confidence. It can change the entire trajectory of their lives." Paula AnnMarie Hurlock - Global Social Impact Lead for Sutherland
In India, where the company has an annual goal of 70,000 volunteer hours, Sutherland trains and hires disabled women, the blind and visually impaired, and “extremely disadvantaged” individuals, including young people who grew up below the poverty line with little access to education, technical training, and other skills such as English language proficiency.
For years, Sutherland India has focused on the Millennium Development Goals (now known as Sustainable Development Goals) taking on environmental sustainability both internally and externally in the wider community, with efforts focused on cleaning waterways and planting trees for soil and forests. Employees in India are now shifting their attention to youth unemployment - they are carefully implementing programs that target youth who live in poverty with opportunities to be upskilled and employed.
Sutherland’s Country Head for India, Proneet Sharma, said the company recently sponsored 10 young women from poor, remote, tribal areas for training so that they could learn to become optical technicians.
Proneet knows that the company can make an even bigger impact: “We are committed to participating in our communities in a meaningful way, with a long-term impact.”
In the Middle East and Europe, Sutherland works with multiple private-sector partners to empower women. Throughout the region, women are educated, but for cultural reasons, they rarely work and if they do, they rarely work outside the home.
This is starting to change, and Sutherland is at the forefront of this shift.
Sutherland is working with a financial institution client, for example, to hire women who can work both inside and outside the home. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) specifically, Sutherland has facilitated the hiring of 100 Emirati women by providing customer service and technical training.
“It’s a method of changing the cultural mindset,” said Shankar Krishnan, Human Resources Head in the UAE. “We are pioneers in initiating this concept.”
The empowerment of women is also a priority area for the Sutherland team in Bulgaria. Sutherland employees in Sofia, Bulgaria, recently participated in a panel discussion on gender parity and multiple related topics, including human rights issues, to celebrate International Women's Day.
Leading the Way
In May 2019, Sutherland won the Microsoft Award for Leadership in Impact Sourcing. We were recognized for our leadership in deliberately hiring individuals from marginalized or vulnerable situations by eliminating barriers to employment and empowering individuals through our impact sourcing program.
Microsoft’s Tim Hopper, one of the founding members of the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition, says Sutherland was the first Microsoft supplier to jump at the opportunity of supporting Microsoft skills training through Digital Empowerment Centers in the communities where it works. The DECs started in Chennai, India, with Philippines and Jamaica being added after, and now DECs are offered in almost every Sutherland community.
"Their impact is not just within their own walls. Other companies are realizing that making money is not enough and are now doing this, too. But is was Sutherland's leadership that made it have the impact it's had. Sutherland is making sure no one is left behind." Tim Hopper - Microsoft and GISC Founding Member
Sutherland’s Social Impact and Impact Hiring program is good for our employees, our customers, our communities, our business, and the world. Sutherland has also taken the lead in being a founding member of the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC), a non-profit initiative committed to advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 8 — promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all — by building more inclusive global supply chains.
GISC Project Director Sara Enright says procurement and sourcing teams are looking to move beyond basic social compliance. They want to work with suppliers who share their companies’ values, they want to know that their spending is benefitting the broader community, and they feel impact sourcing will make their companies, their supplier companies, and individuals and communities all over the world stronger.
Impact sourcing is becoming increasingly important for multinationals. Many large multinationals already prioritize the use of minority and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) suppliers, and Enright says they will likely start prioritizing impact-sourcing suppliers in the very near future.
"We're starting to see companies take inclusive employment seriously, both as a positive contribution to the communities they operate in, and also as a business strategy. I expect impact sourcing will cascade over the next several years." Sara Enright, GISC Project Director
Sutherland is proud to say that our pool of employees reflect our target populations - including young people who live in poverty, single mothers, and the blind and individuals who are blind and visually impaired, deaf or are on the autism spectrum - and the global communities in which we work. Every day, Sutherland exposes, invests and makes impact hires. Our employees promote and encourage impact hiring with customers, prospective customers, suppliers, partners, non-profits, NGOs, government agencies, and more, improving lives and expanding opportunities for all.