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The business case for hiring refugees: How far does your search for talent go?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Did you know? Ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to financially outperform the national industry median, according to research by McKinsey.

Volkswagen, Microsoft and L’Oreal, 3 CSR Europe members, have developed refugee recruitment programmes. At the same time, a European Business Coalition for Third Country National Employment is being set up by CSR Europe.

More businesses need to make an active effort to hire refugees, not just for corporate social responsibility (CSR) driven reasons, but also out of economic self-interest as well. In Europe, ‘investing one euro in welcoming refugees can yield nearly two euros in economic benefits within five years’, according to Philippe Legrain, former economic adviser to the president of the European Commission.

While governments and policymakers must play a more active role in this area, businesses need to do more, simply because it makes good business sense.

Good business sense? How?

Refugees and migrants bring a vast amount of benefits to the communities they live in and to the companies that hire them. The positive social impact of gaining employment (economic independence, quality of life, integration) alone is a strong argument for businesses to hire refugees and migrants, but they are potential assets to the company too. Here are three main reasons why:

  1. Strengthen your brand image by demonstrating that your company is living its values. Showcase yourself as a company that is doing its part to help with an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and earn goodwill from governments AND consumers.
  2. Attract, retain and motivate employees. Enrich your workplace with new ideas and perspectives; a more diverse workforce tends to boost creativity and innovation and can help tap new markets both domestically and abroad. Employers in the U.S. report that refugees remain employed with their companies for longer periods of time than typical U.S. employees, according to Tent Foundation.
  3. Overcome your skills shortages. Refugees are an overlooked pool of talent; they are often skilled, motivated and resilient individuals. High-skilled refugees can fill skills shortages, while less-skilled newcomers can fill jobs that locals no longer want to do.

Overlooking these benefits means overlooking valuable opportunities. The question then should not be “Is there potential for labour market integration of refugees?” Rather it should be “How can we make the best of the existing potential?”.

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