Over 100,000 displaced Afghan refugees -who are being rapidly relocated to the US as a result of the Taliban takeover of their country - are in need of work. In response, major US companies - including Amazon, Facebook, Pfizer, Tyson Foods, and many others - have announced that they will join the Tent Coalition for Afghan Refugees, pledging to help create economic opportunities for Afghans as they start their new lives in America.
The new coalition is spearheaded by the Tent Partnership for Refugees, a network of over 180 global businesses integrating refugees. As part of this new commitment, some of America's biggest employers will create job opportunities, provide training and other resources to help Afghans better integrate into the American economy - a fundamental component for Afghans' successful resettlement in the U.S.
Supporting at-risk Afghans is an issue Americans agree upon; a recent poll found that an overwhelming majority - 81% - feel the U.S. should support Afghans who worked with our troops. In addition, a bipartisan group of governors, from Utah, to Arkansas, to Colorado, have been outspoken about welcoming Afghans into their communities.
Reached for comment by RNN, Scarlet Cronin, Acting Executive Director, discussed the efforts Tent is undertaking.
"Our founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani, hired refugees to work in his plants a number of years ago and was inspired by the results. He established Tent to encourage other companies to do the same - we work not only in the US, but globally as well, on the effort. With everything that happened in Afghanistan, this builds on our core strengths to bring refugee talent into the workforce.
"Afghans who come into the US have very high unemployment rates. Despite tending to have high levels of education as well as language skills - remember, many of them worked with the US as interpreters - we are seeing a 20% unemployment rate. They don't get seen by recruiters - the potential for them to fall into the hidden talent group is high. Without added effort to keep them visible and in the candidate pool there's a strong chance they will be effectively shut out of the labor market.
"And, yet, refugees turn out to be some of the best employees a company can have. They are incredibly hard-working, skilled, and loyal. When you study the issue, for example, refugee turnover is one-third that of non-refugee employees."
The process will be multi-phased, according to Cronin:
She added a few points that recruiting/ TA teams should keep in mind:
For a downloadable guidebook to hiring refugees, please check out Tent's US Employers Guide to Hiring Refugees.
"America is at a critical juncture, and every part of our society must play its part to welcome our Afghan brothers and sisters. They have stood by our side, and we must stand by theirs," said Ulukaya. "I am so proud of the businesses stepping up today -- and hope that many more will join our coalition. I've said this before and I'll say it again -- the moment a refugee gets a job, it's the moment they stop being a refugee. It's the moment they can stand on their own two feet; it's the moment they can make new friends; it's the moment they can start a new life."
The types of companies span sectors from tech to retail, and from food service to consulting - showing the broad swath of support for Afghan refugees among the business community, and the diversity of job opportunities that will be offered. They include: Accenture, the Adecco Group, Amazon, APCO, Bain & Company, Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Chobani, Coursera, Deloitte, Facebook, Gap Inc., General Assembly, Henry Schein, Inc., Hilton, HP, IHG Hotels & Resorts, Jacobs, Kleen-Tech, Mastercard, Panda Express, Pfizer, Rejuvenation – a Williams-Sonoma, Inc. brand, ServiceNow, Sitel Group®, Sodexo, Tripadvisor, Tyson Foods, Uber, UPS, US Xpress, Wayfair, and Western Union.
Amazon has already undertaken remarkable efforts to include refugees in its U.S. workforce, hiring refugees from all nationalities at its fulfillment and transportation centers, and training and placing high-skilled refugees in corporate roles across different business teams. Amazon jobs in fulfillment and transportation offer an average starting wage of more than $18 per hour, comprehensive benefits for full time employees starting on the first day on the job, and access to Amazon's Career Choice program through which the company will fund full college tuition, high school completion, or English as a Second Language proficiency certification. In addition, Amazon provides skills training opportunities to refugees through AWS re/Start, a free full-time, 12-week program that prepares unemployed or underemployed individuals for careers in cloud computing and connects more than 90% of graduates with job interview opportunities as part of the company's pledge to invest $1.2 billion in skills training programs by 2025.
"As part of our diverse workforce, Amazon continually hires immigrants and refugees across the company, and we're proud to partner with Tent to extend our reach," said Beth Galetti, Amazon's Senior Vice President of People eXperience and Technology. "We are committed to expanding and improving on these efforts and providing employment support for the refugee population, including the imminent need for Afghan refugees."
Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, said: "At Pfizer, we recognize the critical needs of people all around the world, and we firmly believe that every individual should be heard, seen, and cared for. This is why we are proud to join the Tent Coalition for Afghan Refugees, and will be undertaking a number of projects in support of Afghan refugees and Special Immigrants – from hiring them into our workforce, to mentoring Afghan refugees and preparing them for their new workplaces."
As part of the whole nation's effort in support of Afghan refugees, the Tent Coalition for Afghan Refugees partners with Welcome.US, a national initiative to engage and mobilize all Americans to welcome and support Afghan refugees. The Coalition also supports the U.S. Government's long-term vision of economic and social integration. For more information on how to help, please contact the Tent Coalition directly, or connect with RNN editor Martin Burns for an introduction to Scarlet Cronin.