The practice of doing Impact Sourcing as we know it today, became prominent with the launch of certification standards for Fair Trade and Organic Agriculture in 1980’s. But over the past few years, technology has scaled the potential of impact sourcing and has become an enabler for real positive social impacts which could not be achieved with the traditional system.
At present, the focus of impact sourcing is to catalyze new and sustainable employment opportunities for disadvantaged workers from low- employment areas. The talent is hired, skilled and then integrated into the processes of businesses from economically advanced countries either through outsourcing or by setting up virtual teams using digital technology. Therefore, it is not only the society that benefits from Impact Sourcing; but businesses too can capitalize on the benefits by being able to bring a new, innovative and competitive offering & sustenance to its clients.
With increased focus on a shared vision of inclusive business and corporate social responsibility, businesses are now looking for both positive financial and social impact in their own practices, and in those of their supply chain. Over, the last few years, the value proposition of impact sourcing is shifting from just ‘cost savings’ to ‘employing relevant talent’ & ‘diversity and inclusivity’ which is leading to workforce stability, lower attrition and higher motivation levels among impact workers.
South Africa has been able to position itself as an emerging outsourcing destination, not only for contact centers, but also high- end Business Process Management (BPM) services such as analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA) etc. While a positive business environment and infrastructure exists, it is challenged by labour pool availability for these complex high- end services. Therefore, training pertaining to technical skills and practical application is of prime focus to ensure impact workers are employment- ready and exhibit the maturity required on the job. According to a study by Everest Group, 50 to 55 percent of the ~ 235,000 FTEs in the South Africa BPO market qualify as impact workers.
At Startek and Aegis, we were cognizant of the vast population of disadvantaged youth in South Africa, which, if well trained, could be transformed into high potential, possibly cost effective impact workers likely to out-stay their peers from other backgrounds. We’ve pledged to hire 300 new impact workers in the country by 2020. This model is helping us access new sources of talent, superior performance, reduced turnover and high level of engagement.
While, the impact sourcing model does face challenges such as high initial cost and demand- supply mismatch, the other factors such as lower attrition, motivated employees and stronger performance provides a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in the long term. Nevertheless, the adoption of impact sourcing seems to only mature with time, with this group of employees demonstrating the potential to deliver work beyond just the voice- based transactional processes.