World Refugee Day June 29-FairChange

What businesses can do for refugee workers

Over 108 million people worldwide have fled their homes because of war and persecution. The refugees who make it safely to new countries are desperate for jobs. But they run a high risk of exploitation, violence, and other work-related abuses. By onboarding refugee workers, your business can contribute to their safety and income. What’s more, it also helps your brand. 

Desperate for jobs, vulnerable to abuse

The numbers are staggering. Two billion people, or a quarter of the world’s population, live in conflict-affected areas. War in Ukraine and elsewhere pushed the number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, persecution and severe human rights violations over the milestone of 100 million for the first time on record, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency informed in May 2022. At the end of 2022, the official number peaked at 108.4 million forcibly displaced people worldwide.

The refugees who make it safely to new countries – often without the necessary paperwork – are desperate for jobs and income. That’s when they face even more challenges. Behind the staggering statistics are men, women, and children at a high risk of exploitation, physical violence, human trafficking and other work-related abuses.

It happens in the operating areas and supply chains of global and local companies everywhere.

Tips for businesses taking action for refugee workers

So, what can businesses do to welcome refugees and provide decent working conditions instead? Here are a few publications to help out. (Find the links below this article )

✳️ “Human rights due diligence: risks of modern slavery for displaced workers” by Anti-Slavery International and La Strada International gives recommendations to consumer-facing brands and their suppliers, particularly in countries neighboring conflict-affected areas or with high numbers of displaced people. This guidance explains how companies can prevent and mitigate some of the risks of labor exploitation, forced labor, and trafficking.

✳️ “A new home at work: An employers’ guidebook to fostering inclusion for refugee employees” by Deloitte Insights in collaboration with Tent Partnership for Refugees moves beyond the protection of human rights. It offers a range of initiatives to encourage inclusion for refugee workers in their workplaces. Onboarding, employee and team readiness, learning and growth, are among the key areas covered by the guide.

✳️ Formal hiring of refugees in company operations and supply chains is one important model. But other models are needed to support refugee economic inclusion, self-reliance, and improved wellbeing. “Resilience through refugee-inclusive business” by Business Fights Poverty provides insights on what refugee-inclusive business models look like and what can enable these models to work effectively and scale.

How hiring refugees helps brands

Is your company still wondering about the commercial benefits of employing refugees? “How Hiring Refugees Helps Brands: Europe” demonstrates how business action to hire refugees positively affects consumer perception and purchase behavior in Europe. According to a multiple country survey, European consumers indicate by a very wide margin that they are more likely to buy from brands hiring refugees.

Large and small companies, key supporters

The evidence is compelling. Large or small, local or global – as key economic actors, companies can have a major impact on the rights and wellbeing of refugee workers.

During World Refugee Week and every week of the year, it is crucial that they take action and support refugees to rebuild their lives away from home.


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency: A record 100 million people forcibly displaced worldwide

Anti-slavery: Human rights due diligence on the risks of modern slavery for displaced workers

La Strada International website

Tent Partnership for Refugees and Deloitte: A New Home at Work: An employers’ guidebook to fostering inclusion for refugee employees

Business Fights Poverty: Refugee-inclusive business

Amnesty International: Refugees, Asylum seekers and Migrants

United Nations: World Refugee Day 20 June


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