Business leaders issue urgent call for companies in Europe to integrate Ukrainians and other refugees, as needs shift and new data shows overwhelming consumer support towards brands hiring refugees

February 26, 2023
by

Ahead of the one-year milestone of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Tent Partnership for Refugees (Tent) – a global network of over 300 companies committed to economically integrating refugees – has announced a summit to bring leading businesses together to accelerate the economic integration of Ukrainian refugee women and other refugees in the UK and across Europe. This occasion comes as eight million refugees – overwhelmingly women – have fled Ukraine into Europe. Taking place in Paris on 19 June, to mark World Refugee Week, the Tent European Business Summit will feature major companies announcing bold corporate pledges and initiatives to hire and train tens of thousands of refugees from Ukraine and other parts of the world.

Business leaders including CEO of ISS Jacob Aarup-Andersen, CEO of Microsoft Poland Dominika Bettman, Chairman & CEO of PepsiCo Ramon Laguarta, and former CEO of Unilever Paul Polman join Chobani CEO and Tent Founder Hamdi Ulukaya in co-hosting this summit and issuing an urgent call to action to major employers across Europe to step up with tangible commitments in support of refugees.

“European governments have stepped up to welcome Ukrainian women fleeing the war but businesses must now do their part to help them find jobs and provide for themselves. This is the most important step in helping refugees integrate into their new communities,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder of Tent and Chobani CEO. “That is the purpose of the Tent European Business Summit, and alongside the visionary CEOs joining today, I urge other business leaders across Europe to step up, reduce barriers, and hire Ukrainian refugee women. They will strengthen your workforce and deserve to not just survive, but thrive as they rebuild and restart their lives.”

Tent has been at the forefront of making the business case for companies to integrate refugees, having previously shown that refugees have higher retention rates and that companies are more attractive for all employees when they hire refugees. Today, Tent broadens that body of work by releasing a new pan-European survey exploring refugee-related company activities.

  • 51 percent of the more than 5,600 European consumers surveyed are more likely to purchase from brands that hire refugees, with only 12 percent less likely, showing 4 times as many consumers support as oppose brands taking this action.
  • This response actually exceeds the percentage (49 percent) of consumers more likely to buy from brands donating money to refugee-related causes, a dramatic shift from Tent’s earlier surveys of European consumers, which showed substantially higher support for brands donating money.
  • Consumers of all ages exhibit strong support for companies hiring refugees.
  • While public opinion towards refugees can appear polarised, European consumers of all political views support companies hiring refugees; even those identifying as conservative support, by wide margins, companies hiring refugees, recognising, for example, that when refugees work they pay taxes instead of relying on government support.

“Hiring refugees is one of the smartest things a business can do, but refugees often struggle with steep challenges in their path towards economic integration – language barriers, absence of social and professional networks, lack of understanding of the local labour market, and for Ukrainian refugee women in particular, higher childcare and domestic burdens,” said Gideon Maltz, CEO of Tent. “Tent’s unique role is helping companies reduce these barriers so that they can hire refugees at scale; we stand ready to support the European business community in these growing efforts.”

Helping Ukrainian refugee women overcome these hurdles and helping businesses integrate them into their workforce is the focus of Tent’s Sunflower Project, an initiative launched last year. The Tent European Business Summit builds on this work and Tent’s new film “To Whom It May Concern” spotlights this population to further rally the business community. The 75-second spot – which features illustrations and voiceover from several Ukrainian female artists – showcases the extraordinary strength, skill, and resilience of Ukrainian refugee women often overlooked by potential employers as they seek to rebuild their lives.

Jacob Aarup-Andersen, CEO of ISS A/S, said: “As one of the world’s largest employers, ISS is guided by a steadfast belief that a diverse and inclusive workforce makes for the most creative, productive, and successful business. It also allows your employees, no matter what their background might be, to feel a profound sense of belonging and purpose – and I’ve been touched to witness this amongst our Ukrainian refugee employees around Europe. At ISS, we are proud to be a partner of Tent and invite other business leaders to join us in embracing refugee talent, foster an inclusive work environment, and offer these resilient individuals the fresh start they deserve.”

Dominika Bettman, CEO of Microsoft Poland, said: “With Poland welcoming more Ukrainian refugees than any other country in Europe, we have seen first-hand their plight in exile. As a long-time member of the Tent Partnership supporting refugees, it’s been inspirational to see companies in Poland stand up like never before to support the people of Ukraine. Companies across Europe can and must do more, and I urge business leaders across the continent to unite with us and pledge to support Ukrainian refugee women and all refugees with the work and the dignity they deserve.”

Ramon Laguarta, Chairman & CEO of PepsiCo, said: “PepsiCo is proud to continue building upon our work with the Tent Partnership for Refugees, which includes our commitment to hire 500 refugees in the United States as well as supporting refugees through mentoring and job opportunities in Europe. We are committed to expanding our impact in the region and know we can effect meaningful change when business leaders join forces to welcome and hire Ukrainians and other refugees into the workforce. Because when we uplift those in need, we can help create stronger communities.”

Paul Polman, Business Leader, Campaigner and F­ormer CEO of Unilever, said: “Businesses more than ever must lead with purpose, act responsibly, and come together to solve the biggest challenges of our times. Aside from the moral imperative, it makes clear business sense. With millions of refugees displaced all over Europe and the grim milestone ahead, companies which welcome, integrate and empower refugees will benefit from their talents, support their economic independence and be rewarded by customers and wider society too.”

About the Tent Partnership for Refugees

With more and more refugees displaced for longer periods of time, businesses have a critical role to play in helping refugees integrate economically in their new host communities. The Tent Partnership for Refugees mobilizes the global business community to improve the lives and livelihoods of more than 36 million refugees who have been forcibly displaced from their home countries. Founded by Chobani’s founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya in 2016, we are a network of over 300 major companies committed to including refugees. Tent believes that companies can most sustainably support refugees by leveraging their core business operations and hiring, training, and mentoring refugees. Tent currently has presence in ten markets across Europe and the Americas including the United Kingdom, Poland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Visit www.tent.org

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