Beyond Stigma: Purposeful Hiring for Unconventional Work

02 November, 2021

By Stacy Konyino, Summit Recruitment & Search (Kenya)


To assist one of the largest providers of family planning services in Kenya to look for qualified medical personnel for clinics and provide support in financial services.


The client offers lifesaving and life-enhancing services to men and women of all ages through a carefully framed mission statement which to many Kenyans could come across as bold due to conservative opposition.

The challenge was to find candidates with the mindset to embrace the mission to improve reproductive healthcare services in Kenya.

Government measures made it even more difficult to source candidates who are unprejudiced and desensitized to such pressing societal topics, let alone the role. Also, the common taboos and stigma around reproductive health were barriers to breakthrough in this project.

Managing the Task:

Prevailing social narratives around reproductive healthcare was the first objective to address and understand well before looking for qualified candidates. So, we made concerted efforts to understand the mission of our client.

Then, we assessed candidates based on their viewpoints on social issues rather than focusing the assessment only on their skillsets. We also took immense care in performing background checks. We had to attentively consider other factors, such as their behavioral skills in supporting and working with co-employees. For this part of the process, we used Lumina Competency-based questions to assess candidates.

The Process:

Initially, many headhunted candidates declined their application for the role due to varied perceptions and their unwillingness to resonate with the services and mission statement of the NGO.

To face this challenge, we took the initiative to explain with extensive care about the objectives to improve healthcare in the country and help candidates rethink old notions around reproductive health and the benefits their services in the company would bring to many patients.

These efforts resulted in a far longer recruitment process, but in the end, we placed best-fit candidates for the organization, all of whom have been successful and are proud to be working for this NGO.


Being aware of societal notions and weaving them into our services to help improve the lives of the many patients has never felt more rewarding. It’s a fulfilling end to find talented candidates who are also advocates for a positive change in modern Kenya. The candidates also understood the importance of their expertise in alleviating discrimination in healthcare, which made all our efforts worthwhile.

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