The Philippines has been consistently one of the major business process outsourcing (BPO) destinations in the world. While this may be attributable to a host of planned and unplanned factors, the effect of Filipino culture to the growth of the industry cannot be undermined.
The country has been a regular fixture in many ranking services when it comes to outsourcing locations. Most recently, the Tholons Top 100 Outsourcing Destinations 2015 reported that the Philippines has been well represented, with eight major business hubs in the country clinching spots on the list. These include:
The Philippines has not let down the trust and outlook given by these rating institutions and this has translated into results and a positive economic impact for the country.
What makes the Filipino outsourcing professional unique and highly desired among the many competing workers in this global industry?
Filipinos can speak “Americanized” English
The answer may be found in the cultural upbringing that Filipinos were nurtured on. In turn, this upbringing has allowed highly desirable work attributes to flourish in Filipinos.
A report from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy distilled these attributes to three factors for voice-based BPO workers:
(1) the Filipino’s affinity for Western, particularly US culture
(2) majority of Filipinos speak English in an American accent and
(3) the hospitable nature of Filipino workers.
The first two reasons are closely related. The Philippines was once a colony of the United States. This history of colonization has left a deep impression on the Filipino psyche. Among the cultural influences is a strong affinity for all things American. Many Filipinos are familiar with the basics of American culture like their traditions and institutions. Many follow US showbiz, sports or even politics. Many pine for American fare like hamburgers. Some, if given a chance, would like to visit Disneyland one day.
One outcome of this is that most Filipinos can speak “Americanized” English. In fact the International Labour Organization has pointed out the distinct advantage of the Filipino brand of English: “the Filipino accent is neutral as compared to the Indian workforce which possesses a stronger accent”. Given this, most outsourced Filipino workers seem to be better understood by Westerners when conversing.
Filipino workers are “hardworking, responsible and customer-oriented employeesLastly, the same ILO report has concluded that there is a general perception among employers that Filipino workers are “hardworking, responsible and customer-oriented employees and therefore suitable for the BPO industry, which is characterized by a lot of customer interaction.”
Given these reasons, the next step would be for Filipino employers to translate these values and culture into a value proposition applicable in other non-voice BPO categories such as transcription, animation, software development, among many others.
- Tholons “2015 Top 100 Outsourcing Destinations”
- “Offshoring and employment in the developing world: Business process outsourcing in the Philippines” (Employment Working Paper, No. 41, International Labour Organisation, Employment Sector, 2009), 12.
- Business Process Outsourcing in the Philippines. Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy – Microsoft Case Studies Series on Information Technology, Public Policy and Society.