“We help people grow and connect” is the simplest way Boldr has communicated its mission since the company started in 2017. These six words have stood as the company’s north star or raison d’etre and have simplified our collective aspiration of a world where more people are connected to opportunities to grow. Especially in parts of the world where opportunities are scarce while talent and potential abound.
The most important part of a mission statement is the “how”. After encountering many mission-driven organizations with a similar desire to create a more equitable world, the reality is there are an infinite number of ways to help people grow and connect. Four years and over 120 scattershot impact projects later, it was clear that our business and impact goals needed to operate in lockstep.
We expanded our impact beyond the individual projects towards integrating Boldr’s business success into its direct impact on the community. Integrating both business success and social impact inspired us to explore various frameworks and impact theses. With the help and inspiration of being immersed in impact networks and communities, Boldr developed its inaugural Theory of Change.
What is a “Theory of Change?”
Applied mostly in the impact investing, social entrepreneurship, and non-profit spaces, a Theory of Change is a detailed narrative or illustration that describes how an intervention leads to the intended change or impact. A Theory of Change framework also clarifies the activities, resources, enabling conditions, and the intended outcomes of the beneficiaries of a specific intervention and illustrates the logical relationship across these factors. Using Boldr’s Theory of Change as an example, we started with a hypothesis that underpins all the strategies and activities that drive intended change::
Everyone has the right to decent work and education. However, access to training and jobs remain unequally spread globally. Providing access to digital skills training, meaningful and decent work, and a living wage can sustainably address systemic unemployment and poverty in disadvantaged communities.
The next step in Boldr’s Theory of Change is identifying the broad pillars, activities, and measurements of success that enable Boldr to fill in the gaps we identified (the lack of access to training and jobs). It’s important to ensure that the activities identified are directly connected to Bold’s own operation. In short, how does Boldr’s business model as an outsourcing company help create access to training, jobs, and living wages? We answered this through three Impact pillars in our Theory of Change:
- Investing in communities to build or partner with training centers for digital skills
- Employing individuals who complete and graduate from Boldr’s partner training centers
- Paying living wages to all Boldr team members and employees in all regions
These three pillars form a virtuous cycle that happens in succession and at the same time. While we launch training cohorts in our various locations, we are also in parallel, working on partnering with our clients to secure job placements for our training center graduates, while also establishing and rolling out living wage baselines across our geographies. Since Boldr’s beneficiaries and arguably our main stakeholders are the individuals and team members we train, empower, and connect to jobs, all the successes are designed to accrue to the individuals and their families.
Where we are in our “Theory of Change”
From when we started our Theory of Change in 2021, we created access to training opportunities for 36 individuals in Cape Town and Hazyview through three training partners. 31 out of the trainees transitioned into employment, 11 of which are based in Hazyview and were absorbed into Boldr’s Barksdale team. In the Philippines, Boldr launched two new impact sourcing partnerships with two training centers with a collective cohort of 42 trainees. Finally, we have identified the first Impact Sourcing training school in Merida which we are working to launch in the first quarter of 2023.
Our Living Wage work is progressing through a phased approach. After leveraging institutional and research collaborations with the Anker Institute, Boldr is rolling out its living wage, starting with the Philippines where 85% of team members are found to be earning above the locally prescribed living wage. By Q1 of 2023, Boldr aims to ensure that 100% of all team members in the Philippines are earning a living wage. From there, we will roll out the phase of Boldr’s living wage work into Merida, and then, Cape Town, and Hazyview. We are also proactively partnering with our clients to align with our intention and actions in realizing a living wage and increasing meaningful employment in the countries where we operate.
What our Theory of Change means to our Partners and Clients
Boldr’s Theory of Change demonstrates the direct and material impact each client has on its global teams and by extension, their families and communities. What this means is a client that chooses Boldr as an outsourcing partner in practice creates the opportunities Boldr is working to redistribute to more regions. Additionally, Boldr’s Theory of Change creates a level of transparency behind its intention to invest in the talent of underserved communities. For instance, a full service school photography company as well as a U.S. based flower delivery company are examples of clients whose long standing partnership with Boldr has supported the employment of 31 impact sourcing graduates this year.
As Boldr strengthens the case for investing in the talent across emerging regions and communities outside of major cities, working in tandem with our clients is critical towards achieving our impact goals. Additionally, Boldr has historically partnered with clients such as MeetUp, Interfolio, and Articulate, who have directly supported our commitment to the community through our various impact initiatives. Together we are working on creating a seamless connection between high quality service delivery and jobs creation in communities through our Theory of Change.
From a Living Wage perspective, as we have posited in “The Case for Paying a Living Wage in the BPO Industry”, clients who understand the direct correlation between ensuring their teams have the means to live decently and support their families, reap the benefits of higher engagement, lesser attrition, which means better outcomes in the long run. Boldr is working on creating greater transparency for its clients on how a living wage calculation is built into service agreements with the intention of claiming that every team member a client hires through Boldr is guaranteed to earn a living wage.
Should YOUR company adopt a “Theory of Change?”
Many mission-driven organizations and companies can deliver on their objectives even without a Theory of Change. However, organizations that have a serious commitment to their impact would benefit from a roadmap or a logical story that defines how a company’s purpose and growth are mutually reinforcing. A Theory of Change model serves as a guide for how to ensure your organizational objectives align with your impact mission in a cohesive and measurable way.
Adopting a Theory of Change begins with a commitment to “change” the status quo. For Boldr, the outsourcing in and to the regions we have expanded to is still largely viewed as a cost-saving business strategy where people are both the input and the “product”. The core of Boldr’s Theory of Change is to harness the potential for outsourcing as an industry to generate opportunities in economies where unemployment is high and barriers to education still exclude many from entering the labor market. Without fundamentally changing the way Boldr operates but focusing on the key areas that we can do differently, Boldr’s Theory of Change is the company’s guide for transforming outsourcing into an economic force of good.