BPro, the Colombian outsourcing industry group, the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP), the Tent Partnership for Refugees, and nine BPO firms operating in Colombia have launched an initiative to employ some of the roughly 2 million Venezuelan refugees currently in Colombia.
So far, the BPO firms, including Teleperformance, Sykes, Sutherland, Sitel, Outsourcing S.A., One Link BPO, IGT Solutions, Emtelco and Alorica have hired over 3,500 Venezuelans as part of their combined workforce of approximately 85,000 in Colombia.
Ana Karina Quessep, Executive President at BPrO, said, “BPO firms in Colombia are taking the lead in integrating refugees into their workforce. We’re very proud of their progress to date and pleased to see that they are having positive experiences hiring this talented workforce. We’re thrilled to be joining this initiative to continue to highlight the leadership of the Colombian BPO sector.”
Approximately 2 million Venezuelan refugees are currently living in Colombia
Over 5 million Venezuelans have fled poverty, crime, and political repression in their home country, that was once the wealthiest in South America. Of that refugee population, around 2 million are now in neighboring Colombia. The Colombian government has recently moved to provide a legal refugee status for these Venezuelans, allowing them to work in the formal sector.
Lucas Gomez, Advisor to the President of Colombia for the Colombian-Venezuelan Border, said: “The Colombian government has taken a resolute decision to integrate Venezuelans into our economy. We see Venezuelans as talented workers as we begin to recover from the economic recession brought on by Covid-19. We’re encouraged to see our BPO sector stepping up to this challenge and hope more companies will follow their lead.”
Debi Hamill, CEO at IAOP, said: “We’re excited to launch this initiative alongside our partners today. This is a pioneering effort to not only support the integration of Venezuelan refugees, but to also advance the impact sourcing movement, by building more inclusive global supply chains.”
Previously published research by Tent and the Fiscal Policy Institute shows that refugees are three times more likely to stay with their employers than non-refugee employees. With staff turnover a key challenge for the BPO sector, hiring Venezuelans can help lower onboarding and turnover costs. Teleperformance, the world’s largest CX outsourcer stated that it has hired over 2,000 Venezuelans already.
Sitel says that it plans to hire another 300 Venezuelan refugees over he next 3 years. “Since 2017, our teams in Colombia have hired nearly 500 Venezuelan refugees,” said Eduardo Endo, country manager, Sitel Colombia. “We are honored to support this vulnerable population with growing career opportunities and education programs as they build a new life here in Colombia. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the refugee crisis in Venezuela, and we’re proud to be able to do our part for many of these immigrants.”
Gideon Maltz, Executive Director at the Tent Partnership for Refugees, said: “I am incredibly proud of the nine companies that joined our initiative today. They have shown great leadership by integrating Venezuelans into their workforce — helping refugees build a new life, while also reaping the benefits of a committed and hard-working workforce. We look forward to seeing the multinational companies that purchase BPO services join and expand this important effort.”