Finding and Hiring Refugees
In Ireland, asylum seekers (those who have not yet been granted refugee status) are now eligible to work provided they have met certain conditions. Liferay, where I serve as Director of Operations, was able to set up a program at Liferay International in our Dublin office whereby we’re able to hire one refugee at a time through a short-term contract. We’ve already hired two people to serve as sales development representatives, where they’ve helped to find and qualify new opportunities for our business. This has truly been a mutually beneficial relationship. The people we’ve employed have gained both hard and soft skills that will help them advance in the world of business, whether they choose to remain at Liferay or move on to another opportunity and we’ve gained great talent that has literally improved our bottom line.
Just as importantly, the presence of members of the refugee community in our workforce has enriched the diversity and experience of our team and helped us to better mirror both the society in which we operate and our pool of potential customers. Fortunately, our experience doesn’t have to be unique. There are plenty of resources available to businesses that are interested in hiring refugees. Liferay’s engagement with the Irish Refugee Council has been invaluable in helping us source talent from the refugee community and we’re proud to partner with local organisations such as the Open Doors Initiative. Globally, programs such as Jobs4refugees in Germany, Science4refugees across the EU and Talent Beyond Boundaries worldwide, help match employee skills with the needs of employers.
Building an Inclusive Workplace
Of course, special provisions may need to be made to ensure that refugees feel welcome in a workplace and are empowered to succeed. To illustrate, the FPI and Tent researchers found that while usually not large investments those employers that took some steps to accommodate refugee employees experienced the highest rates of retention. This could include helping employees that speak minimal English get started in their roles and creating an inclusive workplace that is welcoming to people of different backgrounds and faiths.
Hiring refugees is not an act of charity. It’s a decision that makes good business sense and benefits the communities in which private enterprises operate. While it does take some effort, the costs of hiring refugees are remarkably low and the benefits are significant. I would encourage other businesses to set up their own programmes - in many cases the resources are already there, and the benefits will surely follow.