People Add Value to Business Objectives
- The Impact Sourcing Standard is the first globally recognised standard for the business practice of Impact Sourcing. The Standard is beneficial for communicating our organisation’s inclusive hiring commitments to job seekers, employees, government and civil society stakeholders, customers, and the general public.
- The aim of the Standard is to provide a common understanding of Impact Sourcing to aid successful partnerships between buyers and suppliers committed to Impact Sourcing. Organisations adopting the Standard are promoted through GISC Supplier Directory, through GISC’s social media channels and will also be promoted at GISC events with the potential of unlocking new business opportunities.
- Some of South Africa’s blue chip companies that are part of this initiative include Vodacom, Microsoft, Harambee and Mahindra Motors.
- Merchants has been a member of the Coalition since 2015.
“We are proud to be the first Southern Hemisphere based company and fourth globally to be accredited with this standard. This recognition propels us to continue to display our commitment in creating sustainable employment through Impact Sourcing not only in Southern Africa but globally too,” says Ilse Hess, Head of Talent at Merchants.
The Global Impact Sourcing Coalition is a network of international businesses supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and Business for Social Responsibility™, (BSR™). These global non-profit organisations are currently working with more than 250 companies to promote Impact Sourcing. Impact Sourcing is prevalent in the services sector especially in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and requires companies to employ people between the ages of 18 and 25 years from disadvantaged backgrounds who are either first time job seekers or have been unemployed for a period of 12 months, also known as Impact Workers.
With South Africa’s unemployment rate having reached more than 27%, according to Statistics South Africa, and the bulk of these individuals aged from 18 to 35, the rationale for Merchants to focus on employing Impact Workers will have a positive effect on South Africa. Globally, unemployment levels are at 21.2% and this too will support job creation in other territories in which Merchants operates.
“Our business is to partner with clients where they can offer the right customer experience and our contact centres employ individuals who fall into the category of Impact Workers. We have committed to ensuring 40% of the people we employ are made of up of Impact Workers,” says Hess. “Our goal is to also ensure a better customer experience is supported by the right digital tool and having employees who are accustomed to digital experiences makes sense for our clients.”
“Furthermore, we understand the single biggest impact we can have is to provide someone with employment, creating opportunity for them to prosper and improve their lifestyle. Over 50% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed, if we employ a young person for a period of 12 months, they are likely to remain employed for the rest of their lives. It creates opportunity not for one person but to support a family and change the lives of many,” adds Hess.
To attain this accreditation, Merchants needed to demonstrate how it was attracting and retaining talent by tapping into new talent pools by questioning the traditional recruitment methodologies, which can be subjective, and usually default to either experience or qualifications.
“Our partnership and recent acquisition of MyCalling, a digital recruitment platform, responds to how the recruitment process has evolved and assists Merchants with finding the right people to support our clients through contact centres. In addition, to attract this talent we need to actively show how we are building and growing people’s careers through contact centres, which in turn results in lower attrition rates, as we take into consideration their professional development. This makes business sense for our clients and socio-economic sense to reduce levels of unemployment,” explains Hess.
Through the MyCalling platform, Merchants has recruited more than 7 000 Impact Workers in the last 12 months and is expected to grow this number by of 40% year on year.