To succeed in impact sourcing, it is essential to prioritize impact performance.
What is impact sourcing?
Impact sourcing is a business approach that prioritizes social responsibility by deliberately hiring individuals residing in areas with high unemployment rates and limited career prospects. In many developing nations, there is a significant gap between the number of job seekers and available formal job opportunities. Therefore, impact sourcing initiatives aim to positively impact marginalized and disadvantaged communities by providing them with access to gainful employment, while also addressing issues of inequality faced by women and minorities.
The main objective of impact sourcing is to deliver exceptional performance for brands that engage with impact outsourcers while simultaneously uplifting individuals who face socio-economic barriers. While impact sourcing is not limited to any specific geographical region, this article primarily focuses on its relevance in developing countries.
Unemployment in developing nations
In developing nations, the impact of persistently high unemployment can be catastrophic, particularly for the younger population. In several African countries, for instance, unemployment rates among individuals aged 18 to 35, irrespective of gender, range between 30-40%. Women, in particular, face higher rates of unemployment, exacerbating the issue further. According to the African Development Bank, women face more significant obstacles to securing professional jobs in Africa than men, even if they possess equal or superior qualifications. Non-profit organizations like UNWomen are working to address gender pay disparities, societal barriers, unfair practices, and other forms of inequality faced by women in the global workforce.
BPO and ITO embrace impact sourcing
Industries such as call centers, business process outsourcing (BPO), and information technology outsourcing (ITO) are prominent sectors in impact sourcing, enabled by technology. BPO companies with a social focus lead the way in expanding the hiring pool, cultivating new talents, and promoting diversity in the workforce. Consequently, this approach creates more inclusive supply chains for companies interested in partnering with impact-sourcing companies, commonly known as impact sourcing service providers (ISSPs).
As per Everest Group, there are over 350,000 impact workers globally, with 58% in Asia, 17% in Africa, 11% in North America, and 7% in Latin America. The impact-sourcing workforce comprises a larger proportion of women, representing 52% of the global impact-sourcing workforce, compared to traditional (non-impact) outsourcing providers.
The hiring criteria and benefits of impact sourcing to BPOs, brands, and communities.
In a future article, we will explore the numerous advantages of socially conscious outsourcing strategies. However, here are some key observations to consider:
Hiring Standards: Genuine impact sourcing BPOs have strict hiring standards that entail rigorous screening, interviewing, testing, and reference checks. Some BPOs may even require candidates to pass through a “vetting academy” before being offered a call center job. Such a comprehensive screening process ensures that BPOs recruit and develop agents who meet each client’s skill-set requirements and performance standards.
Communities: For many individuals, entry-level BPO or ITO jobs represent their first formal employment opportunity. BPOs can create jobs much faster than other sectors, including manufacturing, which many governments are increasingly embracing. For example, in South Africa, many BPO workers have increased their incomes by an average of 200-300%, enabling them to support multiple family members. The introduction of new income streams can have a generational impact, potentially changing the dynamics of entire communities.
BPOs: By recruiting qualified and motivated individuals, BPOs and their clients can benefit from a self-sufficient and loyal workforce, higher agent retention, competitive performance, scalability, and other positive social and financial outcomes. This is especially critical in the call center industry, where high turnover, intense competition for labor, saturated outsourcing markets, rising costs, and employee morale issues are common.
Brands (clients): Geographic diversity remains a key objective for companies that use BPOs. Many impact sourcing service providers (ISSPs) operate in emerging BPO markets, offering an opportunity to diversify from more saturated outsourcing regions. Having a diverse mix of locations and employees enables brands to match customer demand with talented BPO resources more seamlessly and effectively. By partnering with impact-minded BPOs, companies can accomplish both corporate social responsibility and business objectives simultaneously. According to Everest Group, employers investing in impact sourcing report long-term cost savings, reliable service delivery, improved brand equity, positive social impacts, access to new talent, and a stable, engaged workforce.
Are impact workers capable of handling complex tasks?
Impact BPOs and their workers are not less skilled than traditional BPOs and their workers. It is important for brands to avoid assuming that only large BPOs or specific types of workers in traditional BPO markets can handle complex outsourcing tasks.
In the past, when new outsourcing markets emerged, brands would outsource low-skilled transactional work to new firms. However, over the last 15-20 years, emerging markets and smaller/mid-sized BPOs have developed and are now capable of supporting a variety of workstreams outsourced today.
Impact Outsourcing enterprises hire agents who are capable of handling the most technical and complex outsourcing needs, requiring four to six weeks of training. Like traditional BPO agents, impact agents possess the skills and talent necessary to achieve the desired economic value, outsourcing performance, and social impact.