By the end of 2015, 65.3 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide – about 21.3 million of those individuals being refugees. After struggling with personal trauma, social discrimination, and government bans, getting our refugees to work is a big deal.
Having a job and an income is key to integrating into their new communities – but what will hiring refugees do for businesses? While many companies may be reluctant to employ refugees, a groundbreaking international study shows that welcoming and empowering refugees to succeed in the workforce can lead to significant economic growth. Keep reading to discover 8 reasons you should seek out and employ refugees – politics aside.
1. THEY FILL GAPS IN THE LABOR MARKET
Let’s face it – it’s tough to find candidates right now. With the national unemployment rate of 4.3%, there simply aren’t enough workers to get the job done. Refugees can fill these shortages, often taking on undesirable jobs that are dirty, difficult, dangerous, and dull. With minimum training, advice, and support, most refugees can find work in the United States, where entry-level jobs with few skill requirements are abundant.
2. THEY'RE GOOD FOR BUSINESS
While recruiting refugees may involve additional costs initially, there is no doubt the investment is right for your company. A 2016 report from The Tent Foundation and OPEN found that investing one Euro (or $1.19 US dollars) in welcoming refugees can yield nearly two (or $2.39 US dollars) in economic benefits within five years.
Beyond the monetary gain, companies want to be seen doing their part helping during such an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. OPEN's Philippe Legrain explains: "Assisting refugees earns goodwill from governments and consumers – and helps to attract, keep, and motivate current employees."
3. THEY BRING DIVERSITY
When you hire refugees, you’re bringing new perspectives, languages, and backgrounds to your company. Studies show that a more diverse workforce can boost creativity and innovation and can help tap new markets both domestically and abroad.
4. THEY'RE HARD WORKING AND HIGHLY MOTIVATED
Refugees have a personal desire to regain self-sufficiency, flexibility, immediate availability, and an incredibly strong work ethic. What more could you want in an exceptional employee? Legrain explains: "Even the most menial work provides an income, local work experience and potential contacts that can lead to better things, while training and job opportunities can also help refugees progress over time."
5. THEY'RE GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY
Refugees boost demand for locally supplied goods and services (think food, shelter, teaching, and translating), acting as a fiscal stimulus. The benefits grow when refugees get to work and establish their own businesses. Even more, most refugees can begin paying taxes and end their reliance on welfare within their first year in the United States.
6. THEY GET A NEW CHANCE AT LIFE
This one might seem obvious, but getting to work benefits refugees immensely. Refugees are survivors of great adversity – having lost their homes, personal property, and careers. After fleeing their country in fear of death or prosecution, they want nothing more than to give back to the society that has welcomed them.
7. HIRING REFUGEES FOSTERS TRUST AND EMPATHY
Working side by side with a refugee is the quickest way to dispel perceptions that refugees are a threat or a burden. It helps to be immersed with the locals – making friendships, building trust, improving language skills and cultural understanding.
8. THEY COMPLIMENT, NOT COMPETE
Because refugees have different skills than most Americans, they don’t compete for American jobs – they compliment us. With an increase in the amount of non-English speaking immigrants working in manual labor jobs, Americans who speak English but have few other skills are put into higher paid jobs that require communication skills.
If you’re still a bit hesitant about hiring refugees, check out what Starbucks is doing. With a plan to welcome and employ 10,000 refugees over the next five years, they hope other companies will step up and do the same. Refugees have a lot to contribute to the society that welcomes them and to the companies that employ them. It is in everyone’s interests to make the most of their talents. Not just for corporate social responsibility reasons– but also because it just makes good business sense.