Outsourcing victim speaks
By Pulkit Sharma
In a flat world, companies operate on a more level playing field. The Indian IT-BPO industry, built on high quality and low costs, has spread its wings to every corner of the world. Despite the global recession, NASSCOM reported FY 08-09 export revenues aggregate of USD 46.3 billion recording a growth of 16.3%. The domestic IT-BPO market clocked INR 570 billion; exhibiting a 21% growth.
The Indian IT/BPO/KPO will continue this growth for the next decade.
While our techies rely on their superb education, skill and competitive costs, there is a darker side to our expansion. Not only has it caused job losses in America and Europe, the manner in which some foreigners are sidelined is quite demeaning.
How does this work? An Indian IT/BPO company gets an outsourcing contract. One element of such a contract is to train Indians to run the show, the other element is to ‘let go’ Americans and Europeans working in that particular IT/BPO companies. Many Indian managers use psychological warfare and dirty tactics to drum westerners out of the company that has outsourced business to them. Western tech employees cost more and have the confidence to speak their minds. Indian workers are more malleable.
ITGrunt has an irrational hatred for all things Indian and so lies discredited in the eyes of many Indians. But hidden away in this blog’s venom is the confused shock and humiliation of many of the Americans who have lost their jobs to Indians on working visas in USA.
One such account of an American outsourcing victim was published in ITGrunt. While globalization and the movement of jobs to countries like India are inevitable and good for the international economy, this first hand account is certainly moving.
Dear Ms. Overby,
I was contacted by a friend who has been emailing you at length regarding a piece you did for www.CIO.com about H1-B visa workers in the US. I was personally affected by this issue. What follows is my story.
I had been working for a major credit card company with a service center in Phoenix, AZ for four years. I was basically a "data miner" for the Merchant Services group. I had access to all the different databases and data warehouses that captured merchant data. I worked with internal customers to query the data in order to provide reports back to merchants or to drive business initiatives by locating process gaps and using the data to prove the gap existed and provide insight to possible solutions based on my knowledge of the data.
For three years, I received exceptional reviews. Each year I was with the company, I received a better review than the previous year. That all stopped when a woman from India took over the management roll for my team. She immediately instituted monthly one-to-one sessions, which I thought would be a great way to provide me constructive and positive feedback to better my work and my career. That was definitely not the case. In each one-to-one I was met with her blatant hostility toward me. She picked apart everything I did and NEVER gave me positive feedback. There was always something I should've done better and faster. I am admittedly a perfectionist, so I took her negative feedback very much to heart and tried harder than I ever had before in my life to meet and exceed expectations.....whatever her expectations were, because I could never get her to tell me what she expected.
Instead of things getting better, things got MUCH worse. Every single one-to-one I had with her, she came down on me for not doing a good enough job. Once when I was at her desk waiting to have an informal meeting with another colleague, she announced to me very loudly that I better start trying harder and doing better work, or I would get a "does not meet expectations" on my review. This astounded me, as I have never in my entire business career gotten a review like that. If anything, I'm always the one who excels and achieves the "goes beyond expectations" review. Plus, since she said this in a public setting, my peers sitting around us heard this, and I was publicly humiliated.
Another time, I found out I was being considered for jury duty. This was not just city court, this was a federal case and very serious in nature. I did not have a backup at work. My backups were laid off years ago, so I was doing the jobs of three people with no way to take time off since my management had never established a backup for when I was gone. Instead of understanding that jury duty is our civic duty as American citizens, she instead put pressure on me to "get out of going." As you may or may not know, the rules around jury duty have gotten much stricter in the past years, and seeing as I had no disability to keep me from going, I had no recourse but to go along with it, and I was on call every Monday morning for three months. Each week, I dreaded having to tell her the status of jury duty, because this would incite a barrage of hostility from her. She told me that if I were to get called to go to the court house that I should "get drunk first" so that they would kick me out. She also pressured me to "act like a crazy person" to get kicked out, and also to "tell them you endorse Sheriff Joe Arpaio" to get kicked out. This REALLY upset me, as I do support Sheriff Arpaio, and it made me feel like there was something wrong with me for feeling that way.
I could go on and on. She even questioned my time management skills, which is something I've always prided myself. It was common for me to fulfill a request for data in as little as 30 minutes from time of receipt, even though department standard was three to five business days from time of receipt. But instead of applauding this, she created more hostility by telling me I should spend less time at my desk. She requested that instead of sending an email to a customer in order to set expectations of a turn around time for a request that I get up, go down to their desk (on a different floor of the huge building where we worked) and speak to them in person about it, and this would result in a time savings on my end. When I questioned how taking the time to find someone at their desk was quicker than shooting off a quick email, she blew up at me.
Within weeks after this blow up, she posted two positions open to Indian candidates only for jobs exactly like mine. When I asked about these positions, I was told they were being hired to offer me backup, and that I'd be the lead over the team. I could see the writing on the wall. It was no surprise to me when I was pulled into a conference room in January and told that my job was being migrated to India. I was told I had 45 days left with the company, and that the two Indians who'd be taking my job would be flown to Arizona for me to train. Not only did they take my job and my livelihood, but the ultimate insult was that I had to TRAIN them to do my job, and if I didn't train them well, they would withhold my 12 weeks of severance pay. So I spent the next 45 days training these guys the best I could. Neither had experience with data query or writing SQL code. It was as if they had literally hired these two individuals off the street with no skills and no background. Their only qualifying "skill" was the fact that they were from India.
At the time, I was making $47K a year. The two Indians taking my job told me they were getting paid $10K a year. How can I even come close to being able to compete with that?
In summary, it is my opinion that my manager purposely created a hostile work environment in order to try to get me to quit so that they wouldn't have to pay out the severance to me. I could not go to her manager, as she was a Chinese lady who treated me the same, if not worse, than my Indian manager. I also feel that I am the victim of reverse discrimination. Since I left the company, old coworkers have also moved on, and their jobs are being filled with H1-B visa workers from India and Pakistan. There are no longer any Americans working on my old team.
So now, here I sit at home on this computer writing my story to you. I am unemployed, and I have been unsuccessful in finding a new job (I'm over qualified for what little jobs are out there). I'm drawing a weekly unemployment claim, for which I receive $200 a week. I can barely pay my bills or support my two children.
Now you tell me how sending American jobs to India or giving American jobs to H1-B visas is helping the U.S. Ms. Overby, until you spend a day in my shoes or the shoes of another American citizen who lost their job to offshoring, I ask you how you can support this type of legislation. This is just my story, but there are millions more like it all across our country. Perhaps you should get down in the trenches with people like me....people who spent a lot of money to get college degrees and spent many years building upon their careers.....people who worked 60 hours a week just to "get ahead" who are now unemployed. I have never been on welfare in my life, and it sickens me now that I must depend on it. But knowing you need to feed your children and keep a safe room over their heads makes you do things you thought you'd never have to do in life. Goodbye, my pride.