No matter what path you choose, bringing about change demands resources and stability. It’s not enough to have good intentions — you have to be able to sustain the process that those good intentions spark. But here’s the problem: at times, good intentions can lead to unintended, harmful outcomes. So, how can you drive change without risking everything falling apart?
Mari Parker, from Boldr Impact, faced this challenge head-on. They embraced it, learned from their mistakes, and grew through the experience. When they discovered the living wage rate for their Manila office, they swiftly moved to implement it, setting off a chain reaction of unexpected consequences. But, as any ethical employer will tell you, the commitment to creating a better world takes priority. It may not always be a smooth journey, but it’s the right one.
Join us today to glean insights from Mari Parker and Boldr’s journey in creating sustainable impact.
Mari Parker’s Roundabout Journey: From Freight to Outsourcing
Mari was raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she quickly recognized that she had grown up on the privileged side of a developing economy. From a young age, she was acutely aware of societal inequalities and made it her mission to give back to the communities where she had been raised.
As she transitioned into adulthood, Mari pursued a career in international logistics and freight companies, which eventually led her to the Philippines. The Philippines felt strangely familiar to her, and she soon realized that it shared many characteristics with the developing economy of Johannesburg.
During her time in the Philippines, Mari crossed paths with David Sudolsky, the CEO and founder of Boldr. While she didn’t immediately join forces with him, Mari’s decision to become a part of Boldr was deeply personal and profoundly meaningful to her. As Mari eloquently puts it, “Recognize that being a contributing member to society is not just about having a job and just earning an income, it’s about actually making making a difference.”
Why Boldr Stands Out as a Leading BPO
BPOs typically carry a negative reputation due to the extractive and exploitative nature of their industry. Mari acknowledges this, quoting the well-known phrase that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. However, she also emphasizes: “It’s not sufficient to have a good intention. But it’s often the starting point.”
Boldr doesn’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk. They initiated their journey by ensuring that their compensation was, at the very least, competitive. But their commitment goes beyond that: their mission is to empower their team members to learn, grow, and advance in their careers. They took it a step further by collaborating with a nonprofit organization in the Philippines to create educational opportunities. Their team actively mentors and supports students throughout their learning journey and future careers.
The Vulnerability of Impact
“If the impact you’re making on the world is not integrated in your economic engine, as a company, that it’s fragile, and it’s at risk,” Mari says.
Boldr came to the realization that humanitarian efforts couldn’t be separate from the core of their company. To ensure the sustainability of these projects, they needed to take a holistic view of their Theory of Change.
She also highlights the crucial role of stakeholder intentions in achieving sustainable impact. When stakeholders are primarily motivated by financial gain rather than a commitment to the mission, it becomes more challenging for these impact initiatives to thrive.
What You Need for Lasting Change
A crucial component of creating lasting change is building a thriving business. At Boldr, there’s no compromise on quality. When it comes to services, they never fall short compared to their competitors. Clients don’t have to make any trade-offs when they choose Boldr for their business needs.
100% Commitment to Living Wages
The journey of becoming a B Corp opened Boldr’s eyes to the concept of a living wage, and it quickly became a cornerstone of their mission. However, they aren’t pursuing this mission alone. Their goal is to disrupt an exploitative industry. Mari says that they want to “challenge the industry. We certainly do not want to be the exception, we want to be the norm.”
Differentiating Living Wages and Fair Compensation
Mari defines living wages as the income needed to provide a family with a decent standard of living. This amount varies depending on the location and should encompass the following essentials:
On the other hand, fair compensation goes beyond living wages. It also considers the company’s work practices and standards. Employers aiming to integrate fair compensation into their practices understand that it’s not just about a specific number; it involves how the company manages and applies that number.
A Holistic Approach to Change
Boldr itself provides an example of the potential pitfalls of blindly adopting living wage standards. When Boldr decided to utilize the living wage figures set by the Philippine government for Manila, they quickly realized that this decision had unforeseen consequences.
By using the living wage as the baseline, it inadvertently affected higher salary grades in unexpected ways. Elevating the baseline meant that certain salary grades, originally intended to be higher than the baseline, now matched or fell below it.
Consequently, they had to raise the figures for those grades and continue upward leading to a chain reaction of financial challenges they weren’t immediately ready to handle.
Implementing fair compensation requires a comprehensive approach. As ethical employers, you must anticipate and understand the wider repercussions of your actions beyond immediate outcomes.
Boldr’s initial implementation of living wages was a valuable learning experience. They hadn’t anticipated the trickle-down effects on their workforce when raising baseline wages.
Any change can stir emotions; some at Boldr were initially upset that lower-ranking employees, like custodians, earned as much. However, Boldr saw this as a chance to shift perspectives. They used it to raise awareness about the positive impact of the living wage.
A crucial aspect of their operations is their open feedback culture. Boldr actively encourages feedback and acts on it. Mari emphasizes, “We have actively fostered a culture that allows for feedback, that values feedback, and that demonstrates that when our team members speak to us, we actually listen.”
Absorbing the Impact of Change
Boldr, thankfully, could absorb the costs of elevating their baseline wages to a minimum living standard. It wasn’t merely a matter of increased pay; it required them to adjust their business model and negotiate with multiple clients. But here’s the beauty of working ethically and with ethical clients: “The people that we partner with, I think, because of who we are, and because of the way that we approach partnership with our clients, it was not met with any resistance,” according to Mari.
When you work with a shared mission and collaborate with those who share your vision, you can shape a better world. Boldr’s core principle is to conduct business without harming communities or their team—an unwavering foundation.
How to Implement Living Wages
Becoming a B Corp served as a catalyst for introducing living wages within the company. However, it’s crucial to understand that creating sustainable impact is an ongoing journey.
Mari outlines the two steps they undertook after achieving B Corp status:
1. Researching Baselines
Boldr performed extensive research regarding living wage baselines where they operate.This went beyond a simple web search; they developed a rigorous methodology to ensure data integrity. Remember: as an employer, you must gather accurate data.
2. Projecting the Data
Once data was collected, Boldr analyzed the financial implications of implementing a living wage. This analysis involved assessing the impact on the company and its employees. Employers must understand the effects of any changes they plan to make before implementing them.
3. Communicating With Your Team
Transparency is essential when making significant changes, especially raising baseline salaries. Engage your team in the decision-making process. Mari also points out that “from a change management perspective, it’s important to make sure that the leadership is aware and that they’re equipped with the talking points and the in-depth enough knowledge to be able to speak to this with their team members.”
Learn More About the Episode Highlight Guests
Mari Parker is the COO of Boldr, a company dedicated to rethinking and redefining outsourcing. They take a people-focused and purpose-driven approach to create job opportunities and full careers for the people they hire.
Profit is a tool every business needs to succeed. No matter how noble your mission is, managing your finances is crucial to ensuring your company thrives and grows in the face of financial adversity. At The Profit Reimagined™, we do more than just provide generic virtual CFO services. We aim to understand your mission and vision so that we can devise financial strategies that suit your company’s goals. What kind of impact do you want to make? Who are you aiming to help?
If you want to grow your team to ensure that your company serves its purpose beyond profit, a CFO can help you figure out your next best move. Schedule a discovery call with Profit Reimagined™ to help you cover your foundations and deepen your understanding of these concepts.