A new approach to supporting refugees in the workplace

Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
30 June 2022
The team from 100% Human at Work recently hosted a gathering of business leaders, bringing them together to discuss what the future of work could look like if it was more focused on the ‘human’ experience.

A brilliant conversation took place between Ileana Cruz-Marden, senior manager for global partnerships at Tent Partnership for Refugees, and Mark Broadhurst, vice president impact & advocacy at Chobani.

The two discussed a new approach to supporting refugees, with a particular focus on the situation in the Ukraine, what companies can learn from the global response, and how we can all meaningfully support refugees now and in the long run.

Tent launched as a not-for-profit organisation in 2016 to mobilise the global business community to include refugees. Today it is a network of over 220 major companies, committed to economically integrating refugees into their new host communities, including by hiring and training them.

TENT's new approach to supporting refugees

As the world experiences the largest number of displaced people in human history, with refugees being displaced for increasingly longer periods of time, companies have a critical role to play in helping them assimilate. According to Ileana, the best way businesses can integrate refugees is by leveraging their already established operations and by engaging refugees as future employees, entrepreneurs, and consumers. “These basic, but important steps are good for refugees, good for the communities that host them, and good for business."

Tent was started by Hamdi Ulukaya – owner, founder, and chairman of Chobani and a B Team leader – after his own experience as an employer, wanting to hire refugees and migrants. Hamdi saw the opportunity business leaders had to make a meaningful impact on this issue and responded by mobilising other businesses to support refugees and to think beyond philanthropy.

100% Human at Work
100% Human at Work

In the space of just six years Tent has gone from launch, to supporting hundreds of companies worldwide, many now making public commitments to hire refugees. Through training, mentorship, and resource provision, Tent is helping businesses reimagine their approach to hiring, and as a result is seeing more and more companies champion the unique skills, backgrounds, and individuality that each refugee brings. “Hamdi’s philosophy is, if you give a refugee a job, they’re no longer a refugee,” said Mark. “By living and hiring through this philosophy, Chobani has been gifted with an incredibly talented workforce (speaking over 20 different languages at any given time) – and the company is stronger for it.”

When asked about the ways Chobani create an inclusive environment, Mark shared: “We want you to bring your true, best self to work. How we deal with our refugee population is how we deal with everyone – through a culture of care.”

How Chobani is supporting refugees in the workplace

Beyond the humanitarian imperative, the business case for refugees in the workplace is undeniable. So along with highlighting refugee needs on the ground, developing resources, and demonstrating how to train teams, Tent commission research into the ‘The Business Case for Supporting Refugees’.

The resulting reports highlight the business benefits of committing to refugee hiring, including increased retention rates and employee engagement, improvement to workplace Diversity & Inclusion programmes, higher brand loyalty, and the creation of a more positive and inclusive corporate culture.

Chobani is a great example of how business can sustainably and successfully integrate refugees into operations and culture – and this same opportunity is available to all businesses. Joining Tent is free of charge for large businesses and every member organisation is given individualised guidance, information on the best practices and cutting-edge research, and connection to companies and best-in-class partners who can provide support and help companies access refugee talent.

100% Human at Work is a charitable initiative that was incubated by The B Team and Virgin Unite and has been owned and grown by the wonderful organisations across their community. Together they are working to catalyse a 100% Human future of work that serves humanity and the planet