How can the HR industry help the refugee crisis?
In August, news channels broadcast videos of Afghan citizens desperately trying to cling to planes flying out of Kabul airport, while newspaper front pages showed photos of hundreds of people packed onto US military cargo aircraft leaving the country. Few will forget these images.
The resurgence of the Taliban as American forces withdrew from Afghanistan has undoubtedly exacerbated the existing and ongoing refugee crisis; the UN Refugee Agency estimates that there are nearly 26.4 millions refugees in the world today, around half of whom are under the age of 18, from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and Syria.
The refugee crisis is a huge and complex problem, and it is easy to feel powerless when considering it. But we in the HR industry are not powerless; there are things that businesses can do to help alleviate at least some of the challenges facing displaced people.
For instance, the HR industry can remove some of the costs and challenges involved in employing refugees. By hiring a refugee and paying them an income, businesses will directly and significantly help that person to establish some security and stability in their new location; the business itself will also benefit from that person’s talent and skills.
At Remote, we want to help address the refugee crisis, and so we have been working with governments and organisations that provide resources to refugees to come up with joint solutions that will directly help refugees rebuild their lives. As a company that enables global employment opportunities, we feel it is our moral responsibility to help refugees get back on their feet through dignified employment
One solution we have launched is Remote for Refugees, a programme that takes away the costs for hiring any refugee employees, making it easier and more cost effective for businesses to invest in refugee talent. We are now offering free global employment for all refugees who reside in countries where we have an entity.
This offer is available for all refugee talent who can show documentation of their refugee status and have the right to work or a work permit in their host country. For as long as a person holds refugee status, this special discount will apply. We plan to keep the programme open for at least the next five years, with a view to extend it and evaluate its impact at multiple stages to adjust it if needed.
Of course, we are not alone in trying to support refugees. There are other amazing organisations doing important work, such as Jobs for Humanity, which is connecting refugees, displaced individuals, and asylum seekers with welcoming employers across the world. Or there is Na’amal, which partners with leading organisations to offer skills training, mentorship and remote work placement opportunities to refugees and other vulnerable populations. Then there is Airbnb, which has publicly pledged to provide temporary housing to 20,000 Afghan refugees worldwide.
We would urge any organisations helping refugees to announce it as much as possible online and on social media to give this pressing issue the publicity it needs. Only together will we be able to achieve the goal of extending the world of opportunity to everyone, regardless of where they are, where they’ve come from, or where they’re going.
But what else can companies and HR departments do to aid refugees directly and make it easier for them to work, or further support those individuals once they’re employed within your organisation?
One idea is to create a mentorship programme that is intentionally for refugees only. This will help displaced individuals to connect with people and new opportunities, increase knowledge and build their skills. Similarly, your organisation could build an internship programme specifically for under-represented groups, including refugees.
Businesses could also consider offering a work sponsorship in a location to provide access to a safe future home-and-work-location for people from under-represented or refugee groups, who may be in unsafe locations and need help urgently. This would work well with existing remote organisations.
Another proposal is to provide a stipend towards travel expenses to help refugees get out of an unsafe location. Financial security is usually a major reason why someone cannot leave an unsafe situation but offering this stipend could mean that an individual can get out much faster.
Finally, consider building a free learning and development programme that refugees within your organisation can access to further themselves in their career, instead of having to rely on expensive university courses or pricey paid-platform tools. Alternatively, you could offer staff an education allowance: for example, at Remote we offer all our employees a $1000 annual learning budget to help them build and progress their careers.
Our mission at Remote is to open the vast potential of every person, business, and country to build a world where we can all thrive. Dignified employment is a force multiplier, enabling refugees to rebuild their lives and contribute to the communities where they live, and better employment opportunities also enrich communities by making room for more diverse perspectives. With some creative thinking and innovative solutions, companies can reach out and help displaced people, regardless of their location.
Nadia Vatalidis, VP of People at Remote