Why Hiring 100,000 Impact Workers Is Only the Beginning: Interview with The Rockefeller Foundation

March 22, 2018
  • Mark Williams

    Former Manager, BSR

This week, the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC) challenged the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry to hire 100,000 new impact workers by the end of 2020. The group also announced the launch of the world’s first Impact Sourcing Standard, designed to increase the adoption of Impact Sourcing by setting out uniform criteria for what it entails.

At the launch, we caught up with Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director, Africa Regional Office, The Rockefeller Foundation, as he reflected on the development of the GISC and its progress to date.

Mark Williams: What need led to the formation of the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition?

Mamadou Biteye: Economic inequality is one of the most threatening global challenges of our time, jeopardizing stability and social progress worldwide. The World Bank estimates that 2.1 billion people in the developing world are surviving on less than US$3.10 a day, and more than half of the world's poorest people are in sub-Saharan Africa. For these individuals and their families, income inequality creates a cycle of poverty that can persist for generations. One of the most sustainable means to reduce such inequality is to ensure that poor and vulnerable populations have access to formal employment and training, giving them the opportunity to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. GISC is trying to do this by creating access to opportunities of gainful employment.

Williams: How did the GISC come into being?

Biteye: As part of its Digital Jobs Africa initiative, whose aim was to catalyze new, sustainable employment opportunities and skills development for African youth through ICT, The Rockefeller Foundation had been working with the private sector for six years to influence their adoption of Impact Sourcing in their hiring practices. We later partnered with BSR, a global non-profit organization that works with its network of more than 250 member companies to build a just and sustainable world. BSR is today the secretariat and facilitator of the Coalition.

Williams: How has the GISC grown since its launch?

Biteye: In September 2016, The Rockefeller Foundation and BSR launched the GISC with 20 founding members, including companies and partner organizations. An additional 23 organizations have since joined. GISC’s member companies have a combined workforce of over 1.6 million BPO workers, representing an estimated 10 percent of the global industry.

Williams: How important is the collaboration for the BPO industry and can other industries follow its lead?

Biteye: The Rockefeller Foundation initially targeted the BPO industry in areas such as call centers and data entry, due to their fast growth and high potential for job creation. Today, leading BPO providers have become early champions of Impact Sourcing and are eager to prove the business case for this inclusive hiring practice. While the initial uptake has been a major success in the BPO sector, Impact Sourcing is applicable across sectors and across industries. The BPO sector serves as an excellent forerunner.

Williams: How does The Rockefeller Foundation support industry collaboration?

Biteye: For more than a century, we have worked through partnerships to create the change we want to see and improve the lives of poor and vulnerable. This has been the case not only via Digital Jobs Africa and GISC, but across many of our initiatives at The Rockefeller Foundation, so it is truly in our DNA to bring different organizations together and facilitate their working together to address our challenges for greater impact. We have been fortunate to work with very capable organizations, BSR being one, to catalyze our funding and especially our impact.

Williams: What do you predict for the future of Impact Sourcing?

Biteye: Since the formation of the GISC, we have seen the increasing positive social impact that can be achieved through Impact Sourcing and the power of procurement. The Global Impact Sourcing Challenge will take this ambition to the next level and, together with the new Impact Sourcing Standard, will be the catalyst for a global increase in inclusive hiring practices.

To learn more, please email gisc@bsr.org, and visit our website at gisc.bsr.org. Read more about how The Rockefeller Foundation and BSR approach private-sector collaboration for sustainable development.

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