Ethics in outsourcing

Pursuit* of Ethics in Outsourcing

“If a CIO says ‘I’ve never faced an ethical issue’, they’re not living in the real world,” Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, a security and privacy research think tank based in Arizona.

Though business relationships are mainly based on economics, moral and ethical dimensions have an equal impact on the profitability of the companies. Why is it important for organizations to do business ethically?

Doing business in an ethic way presents a strong public image and upholds the integrity and character of an organization. Whether personal or professional, many would not like to associate with unethical individuals. It is makes a lot more sense to do business with ethical organizations as it has direct influence on the overall functioning of a business.

So it is no surprise that many question the ethics of outsourcing.


Throughout history, it is common for companies to seek inexpensive sources of labor to reduce their operational costs. Then, the desire for cheap labor is driven by profit motive. By reducing operational cost, companies were able to reduce prices and increase profit. Hence the trend of outsourcing to an offshore site where salaries are lower is very common.

Before, the ethical question was focused more on the working conditions of an offshore site. As in the past, outsourcing was usually done for unskilled jobs in manufacturing and agriculture. Usually the offsite were badly managed, had poor working conditions, long working hours, child labor and under paid. Hence, outsourcing was seen as unethical working practice.

But times have changed. Working conditions have been greatly improved. There are many international monitoring companies that ensure that the working conditions are justice to the employees. Many outsourcing firms that provide professional services have world class working environment and uses up to date technologies.


Now the sectors of trade for outsourcing have greatly increased. With globalization, many under developed countries are exposed to higher education, technologies, skills and English language. Hence even “safe” jobs in engineering, health care, IT and many skill oriented jobs are been shipped overseas. Gone are the days where outsourcing was seen as a cost-saving measure, with an expectation of low-quality output. Now quality and skills define the requirements of modern day outsourcing.

Now, many question the ethic of moving jobs to overseas. Outsourcing is looked upon as “stealing” jobs from the host country. While this argument is valid, one should understand the reason behind outsourcing.

Even though the pie is big enough for everyone, it is not happening in real world. In the real world everyone is fighting for each project, get new clients no matter the techniques and to succeed while others fail. This often leads to the losing team to lose its business and its staff.

In the business world, to win would be continually cutting back and reducing costs. Outsourcing is seen as one such method of reducing operational costs. If outsourcing allows a company to cut costs and allow them to concentrate on core aspect of business, thereby remaining a healthier business and staying on competition, is it not acceptable for a company to outsource jobs?

What about the company’s ethic responsibility to its staff? Going by IEEE Code of Ethics states, employers should do their best to “assist colleagues and co-workers in their professional development.”


Architectural Outsourcing in THD

We, THD, believe that we are a “helping hand” to our partners. We assists our partners in documenting construction packages while they do the creative aspect of the project. By giving non-core works to THD, our partners have more time to concentrate on the core aspect of the projects. We should also be seen as a “part-time staff” and be used when there is a sudden increase in work load or absence of staff.

We feel that our services should go beyond just drafting services. Our preferred partners are small or start up companies. Our services are used to compete with bigger players who have bigger staff numbers. We are also hired when small struggling firms do not have enough resources to hire new staff or specialists. It is unfair for small companies who have the talent but are not able to deliver work due to lack of resources. We have worked with many such companies. It gives us great satisfaction to know that our services have helped our partners in many other ways besides drafting! :)

In conclusion, outsourcing will be a part and parcel of common business practice who wishes to compete and stay ahead.

Please share your views on the ethics of outsourcing.

*Pursuit – Reference to the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006”


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