“Do you feel bad?” When I tell people what I do, the first thing many ask is, “Do you feel bad about taking jobs away from Americans?”
I’m an outsourcer. I run a company called TaskUs that employs 15 people in America and over 500 people in the Philippines. In a recent PandoDaily article I’m quoted saying, “You can’t skirt the fact that these are jobs that could potentially go to people in the U.S. but instead are going to people in the Philippines…That’s criticism that we respect. But it’s important to recognize that we’re not trying to steal jobs – we’re trying to make U.S. startups more competitive.”
So do I feel bad about taking jobs away from Americans? No. Here’s why:
My mom is an in-home physical therapist, mainly for elderly people. A huge number of her patients have full-time caretakers, most of whom come from the Philippines. The Philippines does not have enough jobs for their own population, so they built a program called Overseas Filipino Workers(OFW) encouraging their citizens to find more lucrative work overseas. Many of these Filipino citizens have ended up in the U.S. as caretakers and nannies. The majority of the Filipino caretakers my mom encounters were forced to leave their children behind in order to make enough money to pay for their upbringing and education.
To put a voice to this, listen to this NPR story detailing two Filipina women who left their children in the Philippines and came to America to raise other people’s children.
It’s impossible for anyone with kids to listen to that story without feeling heart-wrenching sadness and sympathy. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t even compare to the horror stories that are a reality for so many in the Philippines. Today, the borders to the U.S. are closed to OFW’s. A lucky few OFW’s make it to Canada but the majority head to the Middle East or work as international seafarers where they are completely unprotected by labor and wage regulations.
Filipinos do not leave the Philippines in search of adventure; they leave out of necessity. They leave because they cannot find any way to make money in their own country.
Outsourcing to the Philippines fixes this problem. Today, over 700,000 Filipinos are directly employed by the outsourcing industry and millions more are indirectly employed by the investment that outsourcing has brought to the country. These are millions of people who would otherwise be forced to leave their children, husbands and wives for years at a time, in search of livable wages in another country. By 2016 BPO revenues are projected to equal remittances from OFWs. This is a huge step towards ending the modern era’s equivalent of indentured servitude.
So, when people say things like, “You are stealing jobs from Americans,” I stop and think about the countless mothers and fathers at TaskUs offices in Manila who get to tuck their kids in bed at night. The anti-outsourcing sentiment is driven by a self-centered, protectionist mentality. People who rant against outsourcing jobs to other countries are implying that an American life is worth more than a Filipino life or an Indian life or a Mexican life. These people are saying that American’s are more deserving of raising their own kids than people from other countries. They are suggesting that somehow being born in America makes a good job your property – how else could a job be “stolen”?