A call centre that is creating employment and skills development opportunities for young, black women is one of the latest projects reflecting Imperial Logistics’ commitment to constantly pursuing all facets of transformation and empowerment, and improving the lives of its employees.
This project, conceived two years ago by Imperial Distribution, currently employs 80 black women – 80% of the call centre’s total staff complement. It is a demographic that has not historically been represented in the logistics industry, according to managing director Heinrich Strauss. He elaborates: “On inception of the TMS (Transport Management System) project two years ago, Imperial Distribution recognised the opportunity to attract, employ and develop BEE candidates. To date we have a total of approximately 100 employees operating out of the planning centre, and approximately 80% of them are black women. We have taken a hands-on approach to training and developing all employees in the centre, and the experience that they are gaining from working here is invaluable. Imperial Distribution is committed to aggressively pursuing a resourcing strategy in line with the group’s BEE policy,” he adds.
For many of the young women now working in the call centre, this opportunity has been life-changing. In many instances, these young women had reached a career ceiling imposed by their lack of experience, Strauss explains.“It was very difficult for them to move to the next level, so this opportunity to gain experience in the call centre is an ideal way to improve their skills in order to bridge this gap, and improve their career prospects.”
Employees in the call centre are exposed to all aspects of Imperial Distribution’s business – from vehicle monitoring to customer liaison – equipping them with new and diverse skills sets that could open doors in other areas of the operation.
Several exceptional candidates have been selected for further promotion – among them is Ntsebe Modiselle, whose career has been fast-tracked from vehicle expeditor to senior controller. She commends Imperial Distribution’s sustainable approach to BEE, commenting:“This call centre project is exactly the kind of initiative that I believe will empower previously disadvantaged South Africans in such a way that it ‘teaches you to fish’, as the saying goes, thereby generating a cycle of positive growth.”
Another employee who has seen her career path open up through the call centre project is Karabo Maema, who joined Imperial Distribution in 2009 as part of the graduate programme. “This initiative has expanded my knowledge and created prospects for growth, and I look forward to the fresh challenges that will come with my new position as a planner,” she enthuses.
Tlotlehang Lucy Mampa, who has moved through the call centre to become a senior controller, lauds IMPERIAL Distribution for its drive to empower black women. “I am very proud and happy to be working in an environment where women are being empowered and recognised for their hard work,” she comments.
Plans are underway for further expansion of this call centre project, to not only create more BEE opportunities, but, Strauss states, to also develop prospects for disabled employees.