Putting the Impact Sourcing Pieces Together
What Role Providers, Advisors and Buyers Can Play
By: Sandy Frinton, PULSE Editor
A vendor strategy and execution partner at Google envisions a future where impact sourcing and impact hiring is common practice at all companies.
Expanding from the successes in the BPO industry, Alex Rochlitz sees a world coming where companies in all industries use a different lens to hire employees and providers for social good and, as a result, benefit from the tremendous value proposition impact sourcing provides.
A passionate impact sourcing advocate, Rochlitz talks with excitement about the concepts of “impact providers” and “impact hiring” in his work as a member of IAOP’s Impact Sourcing Knowledge Collective and the Vice Chair of the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition Steering Committee.
Looking ahead, impact sourcing can become the norm for hiring, recruiting, buyer procurement and vendor management that is automatically built into solutions so it becomes a table stake practice for everyone involved, according to Rochlitz.
“Impact hiring can provide opportunities to a bigger population of the world and break down biases,” he says. “It’s the evolution of what impact sourcing can become.”
Rochlitz talked with IAOP CEO Debi Hamill about the future of impact sourcing and much more in the latest edition of the IAOP PULSEcast. To listen to the interview and learn how you can get involved, click here and read on.
Providers: Lead the IS Charge
First, let’s turn the notion upside down on who should lead the impact sourcing charge. Impact sourcing was first defined by the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition as “a business practice where a company (meaning buyers) prioritizes suppliers that intentionally hire and provide career development opportunities to people who otherwise have limited prospects for formal employment.”
While the industry has put a lot of the onus on buyer organizations to further this, Rochlitz believes that large outsourcing providers have a key role to play. These powerful suppliers have the opportunity to both learn from and work in close partnership with smaller “impact providers” who bring the expertise and know-how to move impact sourcing ahead.
His advice to traditional outsourcing suppliers who want to get involved in impact sourcing – Partner and learn from impact providers. And if you want to see the benefits first-hand, visit or shadow an impact provider.
While traditional providers may devote some of their practice to impact sourcing, impact providers only do impact sourcing work, employing individuals who are disadvantaged due to economic, social, health or other factors. Leading impact providers who have been recognized by IAOP and the Rockefeller Foundation with the Global Impact Sourcing Award include Televerde, Sutherland, Samasource and Rural Shores.
“Impact providers know how to do this,” Rochlitz says. “They know who to help and they know the right types of work for specific groups of people. Impact sourcing can be a foundational component for any outsourcing provider. They just need to learn how to do it.”
Traditional providers can help give impact providers the chance to get into the door with large global clients and be their sales arm and enterprise risk mitigator.
And by partnering with larger firms, the smaller vendors who lack global brands can demonstrate their expertise with client references and case studies and marketing prowess they may lack, he says.
Another recommendation from Rochlitz to traditional providers: Don’t wait for your customer to ask you to engage in impact sourcing.
“Providers need to demonstrate they are committed and engaged to impact sourcing without their clients’ influence,” he says. “They need to fully buy into this concept and it has to be done organically from the ground up on the provider side. It can’t be bought and paid for.”
Buyers: Find and support the Right Impact Sourcing Fit
With their spending power and influence over providers, Rochlitz agrees that buyers have a key role to promote and expand impact sourcing and change the industry. Buyers can create opportunities for impact providers directly or influence existing suppliers to start programs of their own.
Regardless of the type of vendor the company chooses to work with, the number one entry criteria for any provider should be that they possess expertise in service delivery and are cost competitive.
With the stakes being higher in an impact sourcing initiative, Rochlitz stresses the importance of making sure the provider doing the impact work is capable for the type of work and successfully transitioned. An early failed transition or performance slip can lead to the loss of executive sponsorship for impact sourcing at the start.
While Rochlitz admits getting an impact sourcing undertaking off the ground isn’t without learning pains, he says it can be done. The value proposition of higher performance, longer tenure and having a more engaged and dedicated workforce is greatest under the impact sourcing model.
His advice to first-timers: Select a service that is well suited for impact sourcing and consider the hiring, support and workflow. Starting with a pilot program, ensure service levels are maintained, and then scale the program.
Close relationships with providers also help to reduce the risks of working with smaller companies. He recommends having vendor managers on the ground intimately involved in an impact sourcing transition and set up.
“Start slow, make sure the performance is there and manage tightly,” he says. “Follow the journey and grow.”
COVID-19 also has created new long-term opportunities by changing the mindset of remote work and where resources are located, Rochlitz. Companies that previously wouldn’t consider putting certain operations in a remote environment are doing it because they had to and it’s working, he said, and this is positive for the future of impact sourcing.
Associations: Create the Forum
After joining Google in 2017, Rochlitz was asked to build a pilot program in impact sourcing with one of the company’s large BPO providers. While the value proposition and the importance of the cause were immediately clear to him, he spent his early days learning how to do impact sourcing at scale and what it meant for his company.
Associations like the GISC were critical to providing support and knowledge and helped him learn how to successfully forge impact sourcing partnerships within his organization.
Today, he says, IAOP has an important role in keeping the momentum and positive traction for impact sourcing moving forward, carrying forth and updating the standards for impact sourcing, and creating a marketplace and forum that brings providers and others together to partner.
Making impact sourcing as easy as possible for buyers to implement and minimizing the risks also is a critical task for the industry. “Creating turn-key solutions for buyers will really make this catch fire,” he says.
Advisors: Spread the Impact Sourcing Word
At the start of his career in outsourcing, Rochlitz worked for advisory firms for seven years. During that time, impact sourcing was not part of the conversation in these deals that were focused largely on cost savings.
He believes advisors are uniquely positioned to spread the word about the benefits of impact sourcing because of their deep and trusted relationships with both buyers and providers, and challenges them to make this a priority.
“Once you hear a five-minute presentation on impact sourcing, everyone wants to get involved,” he says. “Not only is impact sourcing a good thing for society, it is also a great sales opportunity for advisors in helping clients implement impact sourcing programs. We need to give advisors the tools to sell impact sourcing to their clients.”
Rochlitz and Randy Wiele, Managing Director, KPMG, shared their expertise during OWS21 in a session entitled Google View: The Role of Advisors in Impact Sourcing. They discussed how developing impact sourcing solutions/opportunities is a sales project opportunity, as well as a huge selling point for RFPs and new business opportunities.
With millions of people working already in outsourcing for clients, the easiest entry point for creating access and jobs for impact workers is by having providers add more impact sourcing workers to their workforces.
And while impact sourcing started initially in BPO (business process outsourcing, typical back office support services like customer service and transaction processing), these same opportunities exist in all service categories, from technology support (ITO) to finance and accounting, human resources, and even coding and development work. What's more, "impact hiring" is something any company can and should do -- not just outsourcing service providers.
“Impact hiring doesn’t need to be about outsourcing. Any company can do impact hiring,” Rochlitz says, pointing to the example of Microsoft that has successfully hired workers on the autism spectrum for engineering roles by altering its interviewing and hiring practices. Cognizant is taking the general concept even further with its Bronx Training Centers that works directly with communities to train candidates for specific roles that are well suited to their skills and interests rather than hiring generic college business degree holders.
“The stories about how people have been given brand new lives through impact sourcing are inspirational and the reason everyone is so passionate about impact sourcing,” he says. “It’s not just about seeing how capable these individuals are. Impact workers bring engagement and passion that goes above and beyond. They find so much joy in having the opportunity to have meaningful jobs. All it takes is a small mind change shift and some bias busting and anyone can do this.”