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More Outsourcing stuff…point missed November 16, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, education, Nablopomo, politics, Uncategorized.
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A few days ago, I posted about outsourcing and made a suggestion to industry. And, I think what was a good conversation occurred through the comments board between me and a reader.  (Thanks Steve!)

Then today, checking out my blog stats, I discovered a new comment. I was psyched. The comment read:

5. virtual assistant staff – November 16, 2007
Nice article.., you shown have important outsourcing is.. two thumps up.. Check out our site.. 8)

You know, we writers love to get kudos…especially “two thumbs ups.” But somehow, this one wasn’t sitting well with me. So, what did I do? I checked out their site.  Now, normally, I wouldn’t go on and on about a comment that someone made on my blog. But with the sick feeling growing in my stomach, I felt the need to out them.  

The link in their comments takes me here to the company Web site.  Apparently, someone at the company has time (or is outsourced, I mean paid) to search the Web and the blogosphere for random comments about outsourcing and they found my little rant. I could hardly call it an “article” with a straight face. (But hey, I like the praise.)

I had to do a little quick research. (And I do mean quick.) I couldn’t find out where exactly this company is located.  I wondered: Is it here in the U.S.? (With a name like DC Global Management you’d think so.) But that just shows how well they rely on our the gestalt that occurs when we, as Americans, see those those two letters when put together.  The company has nothing to do with Washington, nor are those the initials of anyone in any position of power at the company–at least not that I could glean. It turns out that they are indeed in the U.S. and the Philippines. They are in fact an outsourcing firm.

A quick scan of the company’s offerings revealed a long list of services that they provide–from customer care reps to virtual assistants to web design and more. Among their specialties is a listing for media professionals including copy editing, which made me chuckle. Being an editor myself, I instantly found errors on the site…so I guess their outsourced editing staff isn’t as top-notch as they claim.  (I hope that none of the companies on their scrolling list of “satisfied clients” hired them for their editing skills. Even if the company didn’t design its own site, you’d think someone on staff would have been charged with proofing the text.)  I couldn’t tell where exactly their employees are from either, but when you look at the alleged staff photos of people busily working in cubicles, it doesn’t look like your average American office space.

A little more quick research revealed that the company is in fact part of a larger conglomerate–The Hubport Group, which seems to specialize in having several outsourcing companies–nine to be specific.  What’s sad is that they are a U.S. company that specializes in outsourcing our jobs. (Um… does anyone else see a problem with that or am I a lone wolf on this one?)  When I checked them out further, I found an interesting article about how large U.S. companies will profit by outsourcing to Asia, written and posted by a Bill Bonner of The Daily Reckoning, what seems to be an on-line periodical based in Australia.

He mentions the growing Chinese middle class (sounds like the U.S. two generations ago) as well as our own faltering housing market. He also mentions how companies can spend less by outsourcing. Well…duh…we already know that…it’s all about the bottom line in business.  The article relies solely on quotes from an alleged Minneapolis newspaper, but never attributes the quotes to which paper. (I searched and couldn’t find a match.) Did anyone at Hubport responsible for posting articles do any fact checking which would be, pretty standard practice? (I think those outsourced employees, again, aren’t so top-notch.)

So not only has the commenter, who will probably now retract the glowing “two thumbs up,” miss the point of my days-old blog post, which was to show how outsourcing is failing us, by checking out their company as quickly as I did, the company proved that the quality of outsourced work may not match the standards that we expect (and in some cases demand) here in the U.S.  Once again, the various lead-paint related recalls are perfect cases-in-point.

The question is, at what point does low cost outweigh standards, safety and keeping the American workforce employed? I think those are questions that industry as a whole is coming to grips with. 

This is how I see the outsourcing situation:

When we outsource–whether it’s the blue-collar work of manufacturing or the white-collar work of what Bonner quotes as “high-level things like design, research, marketing, [and] legal work” we are displacing our own at the peril of our own economy and our own workforce. To me, it’s a pretty simple equation:  If you fire people here, and hire people overseas to fill those positions, people here don’t have the wages to buy the products you make or services you offer. It doesn’t make any sense. Why push ourselves into poverty by displacing our own middle class in favor of supporting the rising middle class of somewhere else?  I know it sounds xenophobic, but really, it isn’t. I firmly believe that non-industrialzed nations have the right to become industrialized, join the “first world” so to speak, but how about doing it the way that we did…through hard work and ingenuity…the good old “pull yourselves up by the bootstraps” method without sucking off of someone else?  (Before I get challenged about America’s corporate historical record, no, the corporate historical record in the U.S. is not without its blemishes, as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and the Enron scandal aptly illustrate as two decades-separated examples, but those whom industry has oppressed came here to work and to find a better life.  We also have ways of dealing with such atrocities here.)

For industry to “sell out” as it has done by mass outsourcing, as I see it, for the sake of cutting costs, to in turn offer us “low, low prices,” is really unfathomable, especially with the net trickle-down effect that outsourcing is causing.  It’s one thing if there is a quid pro quo, where on the whole we are getting something out of this outsourcing business besides “low, low prices.” And if you ask me, getting “low, low, prices” isn’t that much of a bargain since people tend to buy more (with the less that they have) when they think they’re getting a deal.  I can see how outsourcing (overseas) can be attractive to a company–cheaper labor, and as Steve pointed out, a more educated workforce.  But perhaps if we educated ourselves better here, companies would be finding a broader pool of talent here and jobs would remain here. The outsourcing issue is quite multifaceted, and of course, it’s not going to change quickly until a large enough group of people get hurt by it or find that they’ve been duped.  And they are getting duped, because as my earlier quick research shows, the talent pool overseas, isn’t necessarily any more qualified than our own American workforce.  Think about that the next time you get a call (or for that matter, call) an American company, and the person you speak to is overseas (and allegedly better educated than we are), but can’t figure out phonics or how to decode a word enough to pronounce your name properly.

Okay…that’s my rant for the day.

Copyright © 2007 Erika-Marie S. Geiss


A Suggestion for Industry: Outsourcing, Unions, Recalls, Made-in-Where? November 11, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, Nablopomo, parenting & family, politics, Uncategorized.
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A child of the ’70s, I vividly remember the “Look for the Union Label” commercials. Members of the various unions sang a portion of the Union Song, with the culminating scene a shot of the entire group of representatives from each union, united in song. In other words, we were instructed, encouraged and compelled not only to buy American, but to specifically support Union-made products.

Fast forward almost 40 years and many of us parents are not exactly looking for the Union label, but we’re avoiding the “made-in-China” label. Sadly the made-in-America and Union labels have become a rarity thanks to overseas outsourcing. (more…)