Image: Impact workers employed by B2R Technologies in India. Credit B2R Technologies

Businesses Share Employment Practices to Eradicate Poverty

By Jessica Custer, Manager, Global Impact Sourcing Coalition

On International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, global businesses collaborate to launch a new toolkit, Reducing Poverty through Employment. Members of the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC) share best practices for how to employ, empower, and improve the advancement prospects of those living in poverty, as a part of their direct and indirect workforces.​

Last Thursday was International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Whilst ending poverty is a motivating goal, it is not always clear how to work towards this lofty ambition through day-to-day business operations. In a new toolkit, Reducing Poverty through Employment, members of the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC) have collaborated to share their experience of how to use employment to reduce poverty.

The Toolkit serves as a guide for companies on how to get started or how to enhance existing efforts to employ, empower, and improve the advancement prospects of those living in poverty as a part of their direct and indirect workforces.

Globally, over 700 million people continue to subsist below the international extreme poverty line, and many more live below national poverty lines. Employing and training these individuals for quality work opportunities with career advancement potential is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty. Importantly for companies, it is also an investment that can create business value and build competitive advantage amidst evolving labour markets and increasing customer and stakeholder expectations for the private sector to contribute to sustainable development.

Tim Hopper, Responsible Sourcing Manager, Microsoft, said: “We have long been aware of the power of procurement in generating positive social impact and intentionally work with companies who are practicing inclusive hiring. The Reducing Poverty through Employment Toolkit is a vital support for companies seeking to develop employment opportunities that can create pathways out of poverty. We hope this guidance will increase the number of companies committing to Impact Sourcing.”

Through literature review and drawing on the extensive knowledge and good practices of GISC member companies around the globe, GISC has identified four key areas in which companies can get started implementing best practices to provide employment opportunities with the potential to create pathways out of poverty:

  • Setting the tone for inclusive employment through commitments, communication, and culture. This can include appointing leader from top management to champion efforts, defining and embedding inclusive employment goals and targets within operational plans, and communicating in a way that respects and empowers low-income job seekers.
  • Making adaptations across the employee life cycle to better identify, integrate, and empower low-income job seekers. In hiring, this can include identifying roles that require in-demand skills that can be learned on the job and creating a simple job application form; in onboarding it can include front-loading training on corporate norms and expectations and introducing peer mentorship; and in employee development it can include offering paid, on-the-job training and helping employees develop portable skills.
  • Offering quality terms of employment that support sustainable livelihoods. This can include offering full-time, formal employment; enabling predictable scheduling with flexibility; offering stable, frequent pay periods; and paying a living wage.
  • Developing employee offerings that enable employment and build resilience. This can include offering life skills training, partnering with local experts to provide wrap-around support services, helping employees manage transportation, and ensuring better access to financial safety nets.

The Toolkit includes case studies from GISC members Sutherland, Televerde, B2R Technologies and PeopleShores PBC, who share how they have made inclusive hiring a fundamental choice for their businesses. Their experiences show that businesses can play an important role in reducing poverty.

Dhiraj Dolwani, CEO, B2R Technologies, Pvt. Ltd, said: “Before Y2K, India was known for her poverty.  Afterwards, she became known for her techies.  But a reputation pivot did not solve India’s poverty challenge.  Intentionally creating businesses in rural India and developing local talent is a sustainable manner to make a difference.”

With business being a critical actor to end poverty, now is the time to combine SDG 1 (No Poverty) with SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth) to reduce poverty through employment.

Download Reducing Poverty through Employment toolkit.

Watch a webinar introduced the new toolkit with representatives of GISC members Televerde, Sutherland, and Microsoft discussing how they are using employment to help tackle poverty and provide vital life opportunities for vulnerable and marginalized groups.

GISC is a collaboration between leading companies to build more inclusive global supply chains by hiring impact workers—people who were previously long-term unemployed or living in poverty.

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