Impact Sourcing in South Africa – a Q&A with Monique Smit and Loadine George
With the significant difference Impact Sourcing is making across our business especially in South Africa, we talk to Monique Smit, our Head of People & Talent, alongside our Head of Career Development, Loadine George, both based in South Africa, about where we are on our Impact Sourcing journey, what’s coming up next, and how important Impact Sourcing will be in our next phase of growth in South Africa.
Q. How many people have joined Sigma Connected in South Africa through the Impact Sourcing route?
In the international division of Sigma Connected South Africa, we have recruited, trained and created sustainable careers for hundreds of people from marginalised and socially or economically disadvantages communities in the past few years, from local and surrounding communities. These colleagues have joined the Sigma Connected family through a process known as Impact Sourcing, which includes graduates who join through sourcing partnerships, such as the one we have with Shadow Careers, an organisation which is plays a vital role in the success of our Impact Sourcing strategy.
With Shadow Careers alone, since 2021 we have welcomed over 300 people. That started with 100 in 2021, moving on to 150 in 2022, and 60 so far in 2023. We are well on track to welcome an additional 140 colleagues through this partnership by the end of this year.
As Monique says the numbers are growing and we are committed to placing a further 20 people each month through our partnership with Shadow Careers. Looking to add to our list of partners, we have also committed to taking on a further 20 people through a secondary Impact Souring partner called YES4Youth. This is a government and business-led collaboration which is creating opportunities for young people to help reignite the economy and address the youth unemployment crisis we are currently facing as a nation.
Our Impact Sourcing strategy aims to give young people opportunities, as the drive continues to reduce the number of unemployed youth between the ages of 18-34 in South Africa, currently estimated to be around 10 million.
Q. And what roles do you both play in the process?
Our Talent & Onboarding teams and I are in the privileged position of being the first point of contact for new candidates.
Looking specifically at our Shadow Careers partnership, our approach prioritises engagement and relationship building from the earliest stages, to ensure these delegates feel part of our Sigma Community from the onset. Whilst the candidates are completing their work readiness programme, our teams will go and meet them, get to know them better and hear their stories. This element of connection is something that I find extremely fulfilling in my role. Being part of a business initiative that is changing lives, is something our entire People, Talent and Onboarding teams feel very proud of.
When we meet these candidates, we will talk to them about Sigma Connected, our culture, and what they can expect once they join us. We will then go back to our Operations team and discuss where we feel they will be best placed to help set them up for success.
Our onboarding process is designed and structured in a way which will ensure they feel welcomed as part of the Sigma Connected community.
Once they complete their training and have been fully upskilled on the campaign they will be working on, we make sure we remain close and have regular points of connection with the Operations team to see how they are settling in, and to make sure they have all the support they need.
Once Monique and her Talent and Onboarding teams have played their part, they then pass the baton over to us where our main priority is transitioning the new recruits into the workplace environment. We also get to meet graduates during their training so we have an early foundation to build from.
For us it’s about creating a seamless experience into Sigma Connected which we do in a variety of ways. Firstly, we place them into smaller teams of around 5/6 with external trainees who have similar interests and backgrounds, matching our training and learning content to their skills, and working hard to ensure they are comfortable with the IT and technology we have in place as many aren’t experienced on systems and laptops. In fact, most, if not all, candidates who come through the Shadow Careers programme tend to have limited digital literacy so are trained before joining us.
For external candidates, they will also be invited to visit Sigma Connected before joining, to be shown around the offices, meet some of the team, and get a good feel before their official start date. We find this works well in helping them feel more comfortable and at ease. All making for an easier transition.
Q. What challenges do you think we face with Impact Sourcing, or those who join us through that route?
There can be many but I am pleased to say that we overcome them, as we are still learning and adapting all the time.
One key area is making sure that our digital training content, methodologies and how it’s being delivered is constantly being reviewed to ensure it is up-to-date and fit for purpose. Things move so fast so we have to keep on top of that as all the methodologies we use in the training environment have been designed to support someone with limited digital knowledge.
We must also remember that our facilitators need the skills to support trainees in all situations. That means we must spot any gaps they have and ensure they are also equipped.
It is our belief that the success of our Impact Sourcing strategy has been our focus on adopting a continuous improvement (CI) and collaborative approach. This has been pivotal in our ability to contribute to operational success, despite the challenges that we faced early in the journey.
One of the CI measures we have implemented has regular best practice sharing between our internal recruitment, training and operational teams, and our external partners. During these sessions, we explore opportunities to enhance our processes, the onboarding and operational journey. At the heart of this is of course a keen focus on ensuring that our people are supported and that we create an environment where they can achieve their full potential.
Q. What do clients say when they hear Sigma Connected’s involvement in Impact Sourcing?
Our clients fully support our Impact Sourcing strategy, not only because they support the benefits it delivers to local communities and individuals but also because we can clearly illustrate how leveraging Impact Sourcing as a sustainable talent attraction channel, benefits their customers.
Q. What does the future looks like for Impact Sourcing and Sigma Connected’s involvement?
I think we are building such great momentum and have countless case studies illustrating the impact we are making.
We are driven by the prospect of being able to, not only, creating job opportunities but to create sustainable, meaningful careers within our business and wider industry.
This chapter in Sigma Connected’s journey is bringing so much positive change, development and empowerment. Not only are we changing the lives of the youth joining our business through Impact Sourcing, but they are changing the way we see our business and operate.
Impact Sourcing is a big part of our leadership offering and commitment as we move forward. One of our strategic objectives covers how to onboard people, which is more than just induction training. It’s vital that we focus on how to secure career paths for the long-term, changing people’s lives and communities for the better. Something to be very proud of.