Enhancing Corporate Responsibility in the Outsourcing Industry – A Convergys Case Study

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Convergys is a global leader in customer management with over 130,000 employees providing services in 58 languages. The organization is present across 33 countries in more than 150 contact centers worldwide, making it the second largest global provider within the outsourcing industry. Convergys provides service offerings in customer care, technical support, collections, analytics, home agent, and end-to-end selling for leading brands in an array of industries including communications and media, financial services, healthcare, retail, technology, and government. (Convergys, 2017).

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Outsourcing service providers are facing increasing expectations from their buyers to transparently disclose their approaches to corporate responsibility

In the ever-growing and highly competitive outsourcing market, suppliers are expected or even required to show increased transparency and performance improvement related to their corporate responsibility (CR). To do so, many suppliers are aligning their CR management systems with industry-accepted standards to ensure buyers that all company processes are responsibly managed. Suppliers who align with CR management system standards communicate to buyers they are highly capable of responsibly managing social, environmental, and corporate governance issues which ultimately mitigates risk across the value chain and strengthens the company brand for both buyers and suppliers.

Certification builds customer trust through increased transparency in supplier operations and management

One of the strongest responses to increased buyer expectations of transparency and responsible management is CR certification. Buyers often look towards CR standards and third parties to validate their suppliers to industry accepted standards through certification. Using a CR standard as a business-to-business certification proactively addresses buyer expectations and assures key stakeholders, especially customers and investors, that their operations are managed consistently and responsibly by following and implementing CR standard-defined best practices.

Several CR management system certification options are available for ensuring high CR performance of suppliers in the outsourcing industry, such as ISO 14001, SA8000, OHSAS 18001, and the Verego Social Responsibility Standard (Verego SRS). In 2014, as part of a buyer’s responsible sourcing program, Convergys was given a selection of CR certification options to utilize in order to prove their industry leading capabilities in managing social responsibility issues. When looking across the CR certification landscape of options, Convergys ultimately chose the Verego SRS certification as it addressed the greatest range of environmental, social, and corporate governance issues within one standard thereby avoiding duplicate assessments and their additional costs. Since Convergys could address multiple CR issues with the holistic approach to certification of the Verego SRS, the company was able to save roughly 70% on certification costs compared to acquiring multiple CR certifications to satisfy buyer sourcing requirements. Moreover, the Verego SRS certification involves an off-site assessment and validation process, which helps clients, particularly those like Convergys with international operations, avoid costs of on-site audits performed by other third-party certification firms while at the same time cost-effectively evaluating sites across a company with over 150+ locations.

Verego SRS Certification creates competitive advantage and customer trust for suppliers through validation of their performance in managing social and environmental issues.

By validating the corporate responsibility performance of an outsourcing supplier like Convergys, the company was able to gain additional intangible benefits such as customer trust and satisfaction, while at the same time positioning itself to retain existing clients and even win new contracts by addressing multiple buyer expectations through a single certification. Suppliers can showcase their high level of performance by complying with assessments of due diligence efforts following through with a voluntary certification. Convergys was able to exhibit its commitment to social responsibility and sustainability by submitting its CR management system to the Verego SRS Certification not only for buyer required sites but across its entire operations. Through the Verego SRS Certification assessment which addresses 56 CSR issues under leadership, ethics, people, community, and environment, Convergys was able to demonstrate its CR performance in managing various social and environmental issues affecting the conduct of its operations.

“From a company perspective, it allowed us to group many of our initiatives and policies and really look at them from a social responsibility perspective rather than an ethic or regulatory item. During RFP’s, audits, client visits, Convergys is able to utilize the certification as show of our commitment and investment in social responsibility which impacted our brand in a positive way.”

 – Paula Gearin (Senior Director of Compliance at Convergys)

Verego SRS Certification streamlines business development processes and reduces customer audit requirements

The Verego SRS Certification addresses 5 fundamental CR areas which enables companies to organize its CR policies accordingly and thereby streamlining processes which effectively impacts operational performance. As social responsibility initiatives and programs have become a standard part of the RFP preparation in the outsourcing industry, Convergys is able to utilize the Verego SRS Certification to reduce and even eliminate follow-up questions that require additional documentation for authentication during the RFP process.  According to Convergys, RFP inquiries received by the company may include CSR sections that contain 1 or 2 topics governing environmental or social responsibility policies. Convergys is able to provide the Enterprise-Wide Verego SRS Certification Awards to potential clients showing compliance, not just in the CSR areas of environment and people, but also in leadership, ethics, and community.

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Verego SRS Certification strengthens CR management systems and stakeholder transparency

The Verego SRS Certification was able to identify opportunities for continuous improvement in the CR management systems of Convergys which overall fortified the organization’s sustainable competitive advantage. Transparency in SR policies affecting employees, suppliers, clients, communities, and the environment were all strengthened due to highlights concluded from the Verego SRS assessment. Convergys coordinated the tracking and documenting of the company’s SR performance across the organization to help generate sustainability reports and evaluate efficiencies. The company was able to create a channel for stakeholder feedback with its operational performance by sharing CR KPIs with stakeholders. Developing its own CSR Statement allowed the collation of existing initiatives and policies, including those from the Code of Business Conduct and HR policies, aligning these approaches under one social responsibility mandate.

Recognizing the need to prove their CSR leadership in the highly competitive outsourcing market, Convergys responded by pursuing and ultimately achieving Verego SRS Certification as a source of competitive advantage. Most importantly, Convergys’s efforts to strengthen transparency and management of many CSR issues through the Verego SRS Certification, ultimately helped build customer trust and improve CR operational performance.

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