Why should South African businesses consider impact sourcing?
In conversation with Aeysha Coetzee-Ismail.
The Covid pandemic has had an impact on every individual and every industry, but the effects have been more significant for people in lower-income communities. By investing in impact sourcing, Sigma Connected is able to grow and retain its employee numbers while providing opportunities for unemployed South Africans. We sat down with Aeysha Coetzee-Ismail, our Head of Recruitment for Sigma Connected South Africa, to discuss why impact sourcing is so important, especially in such uncertain times.
Q: What is impact sourcing, and how does it work?
Aeysha: Impact sourcing looks at providing opportunities for unemployed people, and the unemployed youth in particular, from disadvantaged areas.
For example people from lower-income communities where individuals are often impacted by a lack of infrastructure or education or those who were retrenched during the pandemic. Unemployed youth who have never had an opportunity to work and perhaps don’t have particular work-readiness skills and single mothers who have been excluded due to circumstances are also good examples.
Impact sourcing provides employment opportunities to these people, who wouldn’t normally have them. It focuses on people, and people are at the core of everything we do. Whether that’s our clients, their customers, our employees, or the people in the communities in which we serve.
Q: Having worked with Shadow Careers, can you tell us about their partnership with Sigma Connected and what they do?
Aeysha: We’ve partnered with Shadow Careers to support our Impact Sourcing activity for a host of reasons. They focus on creating opportunities for the unemployed youth, and they’re situated in the Mitchells Plain area, a township close to Cape Town, which is an area where many of our employees live. More than 60% of staff who work for Sigma are based in Mitchells Plain.
Our partnership with Shadow Careers is strong and they involve us right from the beginning of the process, they’re happy to share profiles and allow us to join interviews.
They also work with our current learning and development team to ensure the work environment and work readiness programme is tailor-made to Sigma Connected. It’s a unique partnership with Shadow Careers. It’s a collaboration and we work together to not only find all the individuals permanent employment, but also to ensure they grow and develop within Sigma, and that they are set up for success.
Q: How many people has Sigma employed through impact sourcing?
Aeysha: Through Shadow Careers, in total, we’ve employed 96 people, and from a direct perspective we’ve also changed the recruitment criteria within Sigma Connected to be able to provide opportunities to individuals who only have Grade 11, which means they have not completed their secondary schooling. This has enabled us to recruit people like single mothers who may have had to drop out of school.
Through our assessment and recruitment processes, we look for a set of strengths, behaviours, and attitudes, rather than experience. Experience is important, and we need to uphold standards, but around 60% of our recruitment has been through impact sourcing and the remainder are people who have all the experience required to work within this industry.
Q: What are the benefits of impact sourcing for a company like Sigma Connected and their clients?
Aeysha: Impact Sourcing creates a new talent pool in the market. Previously we found ourselves recycling people in the market, and as much as the BPO industry is one of the largest growing industries in South Africa, it can actually feel quite small when you’ve worked in it for a number of years. So, we wanted to create new talent pools as our operation was growing so quickly.
At Sigma Connected we believe we have a responsibility to make a difference within the communities around us and to positively impact youth unemployment in South Africa.
In addition, we’ve seen higher retention rates against the individuals recruited this way. Over the last 18 months, we’ve been able to retain more than 80% of our Shadow Careers delegates, which is phenomenally higher than the industry standard. These individuals stay longer, and they are more loyal to growing within the business. This means we retain a deep knowledge of a client’s operation within the business.
We’ve also seen the benefits in terms of adherence and absence. The people we have recruited through impact sourcing have much lower absence rates and their adherence is better. This also benefits our clients and the activities we deliver for them.
For more information about Impact Sourcing and the benefits it can deliver both to business and society download our report now