The meaning of heritage takes on many forms. This day gives South Africa a time to celebrate the richness of the country’s diversity and its people. However, it is also a time where corporate SA’s decision-makers are reminded of the importance of investing in and implementing more inclusive business practices today, to see a cultivated South Africa tomorrow. This Heritage Day, we explore the different ways companies can help achieve a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable future for all.
What heritage means to us
For YES, heritage means leaving a meaningful legacy that is true to our country’s potential, and includes a keen focus on the following:
1. Our environment
More efforts at conservation will result in better sustained environments for the future. With a country so wealthy in natural resources and land, it is our duty to educate others (people, corporates, investors) on the importance of taking care of it and preserving our precious flora and fauna as much as possible – not only so our children will see a real-life rhino in the future, but so that we can economically benefit from our sprawling beaches, mountains, and parks through domestic and international tourism.
2. Our country’s systems and institutions
The need to rebuild working structures for many of our systems in critical sectors like healthcare, education, early childhood development, and our general administration continues to rise. The health of our nation mentally and physically, as well as the safety and nurturing of our children will lead to a more prosperous and equal society.
Are we leaving valuable inheritance in our industries for tomorrow’s labour force? Investment in relevant and future-facing industries such as digital, finance, mining, global business services, creative, agriculture and more will ensure that our youth inherit skills that will catapult their careers and enable them to create more opportunities.
4. Ethical practices
It is more important now than ever to cultivate a legacy that reflects a culture of ethical practice. This will contribute towards erasing poverty, unemployment, complicity, mediocrity and a tradition of inaction or worse – complicity.
By focusing on one or more of these in your business’ strategy, you can leave a legacy that will ensure strong economic, social, and environmental structures for all to inherit.
Is there a legacy to inherit?
There are several challenges that our country is faced with today. Our youth unemployment statistics are at a crisis point and demand urgent solutions.
Nearly 56% of youth between the ages of 15-34 are unemployed (according to the expanded definition). This means that 7.2 million young South Africans are not only unemployed but some (3.2 million) have given up on actively seeking employment.
That’s 7.2 million young people not contributing to the fiscus and putting pressure on our social grant’s system, taxpayers, and society. These 7.2 million young South Africans are excluded from the economy as consumers and cannot buy products/services from a company. Ensuring youth get experience and the opportunity to earn ensures the building and shaping of your consumer base, who will then have the purchasing power to support your company in the future.
Despite the fact that we are in the midst of an unemployment crisis, where the challenges seem to be insurmountable – they're not. While YES is not a silver bullet, it is the step over 1,550 forward-thinking companies have taken in order to impact broad-based change now, and in the future.
Has your organisation taken this crucial step?
Rebuilding a sustainable and inclusive legacy
The importance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has seen a rise over the past eight to ten years. Investors and consumers world-wide have intentionally used these strategies to determine whether or not they will utilise their resources to endorse brands, services, and products.
Your organisation’s social and environmental impact plays a great role in how it stands up next to its competitors. Investors and consumers are beginning to align their buying power based on your business practices. More and more, they want to see business practices that are inclusive of people and planet. This means you have to make decisions that, for example, prioritise environmental sustenance, bridge the gender gap, and/or capacitate undervalued demographics into the labour force, to name a few.
YES, a not-for-profit, private sector led initiative, addresses the country’s youth unemployment crisis by empowering businesses to create jobs for our unemployed youth. We’re youth-focused and business-led. We work with leading businesses in various sectors to provide 12-month quality work experiences for unemployed young people to be future managers, skilled professionals, and entrepreneurs who will drive the economy forward. For most youth, this is their first employment in the private sector.
Co-creating a future that works for all will help you build a legacy that will stand the test of time – after all, if you don’t invest in the youth of today, will anyone remember your business tomorrow?
More than this, YES seamlessly integrates into your company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) strategies, helping your organisation increase impact in spaces where it’s needed most and that mean the most to your organisation.
The YES turnkey-solution: more than just jobs
Should your company not be able to host youth inside your organisation, you have the option to place youth with a one of YES’s vetted host partners. YES works with 25 host partners who are generally NPOs and small businesses working in high-impact sectors where they live, which means youth do not have to travel far for work and they can play an important part in building their own communities.
These high-impact sectors include conservation, healthcare, education, digital, early childhood development and more. Historically, the focus of the YES turnkey solution has been to help capacitate under-resourced sectors in communities. We are now expanding the model to include future-facing sectors that have the capacity for high absorption, such as agriculture, global business services (GBS), tech and digital, and more.
By investing in these youth jobs, your company can create a triple impact:
- Job creation for youth.
- Money injected into communities through youth salaries.
- Broad-based change through hitting your ESG/SDG targets (whatever they may be).
61% of YES Youth come from grant-recipient households, and 77% have dependants, meaning this triple impact has multiplied ripple effects through families and communities.
Join the movement
Take the first step and change South Africa’s trajectory. Through inter-sectoral collaboration, we can build back better. Join over 1,550 companies signed on to YES and making difference.