Social Traders business and government members Brisbane City Council have connected with certified social enterprise Jigsaw Australia to empower people with disability into award wage employment.

Gabrielle Buchanan from Social Traders explains how, when given the chance, social enterprise can produce quality work to transition aspiring social procurement practitioners, into #Business4Good champions.

Social enterprises are an innovative breed of business that exist to create impact through trade.

Jigsaw Australia is a certified social enterprise that empowers people with disability into award wage employment and provides digitisation and information management services to business. Jigsaw has a very simple vision for the future: an Australia in which people with disability are fully included in the workforce.

Leading an open discussion, Rebecca Green, Head of Procurement Services, joined Sarah Cunningham, National Business Manager, and Tim Sprey, National Expansion Manager, Jigsaw Australia, to share unique insights on a range of topics, including the social procurement journey, effective internal change management, and the lessons learned and impacts created when switching your spend for good.

Empowering open employment through social procurement.

Since joining Social Traders as a ‘Connections’ member in 2018, Jigsaw have engaged in a number of successful social procurement partnerships to strengthen their capability and create more pathways to open employment by transitioning people with disability into award wage employment.

"Since 2012, there’s been in excess of 1 million Australians with disability, of working age, currently out of the workforce, and we really haven’t seen that number improve over the last 7-8 years". - Sarah Cunningham

At our first “It’ll never catch on – Best Practice Showcase” for the year, we amplified the potential of social enterprise procurement through the story of Jigsaw Australia, and their committed procurement partner, Brisbane City Council.

Become a best practice social procurement leader.

At the height of Covid-19, Brisbane City Council experienced a challenging feat when their former supplier sought to walk away from their contract. Paired with a number of obstacles, the organisation put thought into action and pivoted towards social procurement as a more robust solution.

The opportunity to engage in social procurement arose when Jigsaw reached out to discuss how their certified social enterprise could service Brisbane City Council’s ICT department.

Despite previous speculation, the impact they could create through purposeful procurement was incontestable, and it wasn’t long before the entire organisation was on board. The council’s strategic procurement department have been empowered by the result so far.

"[When Karen from Jigsaw called] I jumped on it very quickly and got approval within our management branch to progress this forward because, within the ICT category, we had no social procurement requirement at all. We talked about it, but we did nothing about it” - John Miller, Strategic Procurement Office, Brisbane City Council."

Community-focused supply chains are more robust.

Beyond meeting the fundamentals of the job, Jigsaw was actually more cost effective, and the quality of work far exceeded previous suppliers.

Raising awareness about social enterprise is about demonstrating to business that you can switch your spend to good, without compromising on the quality of your goods and services.

“Jigsaw ticked all of the boxes, if not more. We found out they were also considerably cheaper, and the quality of work was actually higher. It is one of the contracts I have very little concerns about. It hums along really well and is a stand out for out strategic procurement office that we are engaging with social enterprises” – John Miller

Future employees are increasingly expecting their employer to have a purpose beyond profit.

From this positive working partnership, a sense of pride transpired across the department, and employees began to explore new avenues for impact creation.

“What I’m finding is as a social enterprise, Jigsaw operate at a far higher level than what we’ve had previously. They’re open and transparent, and we’ve got some very happy people within council, right up unto the executive management panel.“ - John Miller

Create the most impactful procurement outcomes.

As a result of the partnership, as of March 2022, Jigsaw has 14 paid trainees working on their government contracts in Queensland, with more than half of these specialising exclusively on Brisbane City Council Projects.

Brisbane City Council is now looking to implement other requirements within Council to invite more social enterprises and Indigenous-led business to bid on future council work for digitization, artificial intelligence, and machine-learning requirements.

Jigsaw Australia and Brisbane City Council’s shared-value partnership continues to empower inclusive opportunities for Australia’s workforce and is great testament to the impact created when organisations like Brisbane City Council support the social enterprise sector to develop and grow through more meaningful procurement.

Customers want it. Investors expect it. Switch your spend and become a frontrunner in good business.

It barely seemed possible in 1903, that we could take to the skies in flight. But look at us now. Business for good is also catching on.

Meet Zac

Meet Zac

After several attempts to secure long-term employment, Zac Dallinger came to Jigsaw seeking an inclusive employment opportunity.

Zac has a visual impairment, which was often was mishandled by his previous employers and created a perceived barrier to success. To date, his experience in the workforce had been focused on challenges, rather than creating open opportunities for Zac to reach his potential.

Zac has since been incredibly successful through the Jigsaw model, working on digitisation, submitting board papers, and continuing to impress the wider branch with his strong work ethic and skill set.

Since completing his paid traineeship, Zac's career is "off and soaring" – he has finally secured meaningful and lasting employment. Zac continues to enjoy award wage employment today, which he impressively balances alongside his university studies.

Zac's story serves as a constant reminder of the positive impacts gained from embedding social enterprise into your supply chain.

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