Amazon, Hilton and PepsiCo among nearly four dozen major companies pledging to hire 22,000 refugees
Billionaire Chobani Hamdi Ulukaya makes an economic case for big US corporations to hire refugees for blue-collar and white-collar jobs.
NOTat the start of four dozen large companies, including Amazon
“Brands and businesses that come together and make these commitments will encourage other businesses to step up,” Ulukaya said. Forbes. “I think we’ve broken down some of the barriers that companies are using and integrating refugees into their recruitment.”
The commitments from 45 companies come as the world’s refugee population has grown since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, Russia’s war on Ukraine and political and economic instability in Venezuela. Tent announced the new commitments Monday at its first refugee business summit in New York.
The total refugee population in the world exceeded 27 million at the end of 2021, according to UNHCR. These figures predate the war in Ukraine, which led to an increase 7.3 million refugees. The United States is expected to accept nearly 100,000 Afghan refugees this year, 100,000 Ukrainians and another 125,000 refugees from other parts of the world, according to Tent.
For U.S. companies, the pledges to hire refugees come at a time when they face a historically tight labor market that makes it difficult to fill vacancies.
“I think this commitment of 20,000 to the population that has arrived is very, very significant,” said Ulukaya, 49, who is worth $2.2 billion. In addition to direct hiring, he said, Tent encourages companies to push companies in their supply chains to also hire refugees, as he did in Chobani.
Earlier this year, Tent announced that more than 100 companies, including Delta, Pfizer
Ulukaya, a Kurd raised in eastern Turkey, is one of the loudest and oldest proponents of hiring refugees. He started hiring refugees in his yogurt business, then founded the nonprofit Tent in 2016 to help businesses support refugees. “The moment a refugee gets a job, that’s when they stop being a refugee” is his mantra. Ulukaya and Chobani have funded Tent with approximately $20 million since its founding.
“It’s not a small problem, it’s a big problem. You talk about millions and millions of people who are stuck,” he said. “We see how refugees as a subject have been used in a political environment in a very bad way and hurt us all… They are people like us – mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers – who have been forced out of their homes and they just want a second chance to contribute. I thought corporate involvement might affect that.
The Tent Partnership provides resources to businesses in its network to help them hire and train refugees and also runs hiring events in conjunction with local nonprofits in areas with high refugee populations, including Los Angeles. Angeles, Houston and northern Virginia.
“I think we have broken down some barriers that companies use and integrate refugees into their recruitment.”
Amazon, which employs more than one million people in the United States, tops the list of new three-year commitments, pledging to hire at least 5,000 refugees and provide them with free legal resources, training in English as a second language and other forms of support through its Welcome Door program. An Amazon spokesperson said the company’s commitment follows its previous work with refugees, which includes outreach at military bases where Afghan refugees have been housed and partnerships with organizations. resettlement of refugees.
Among other major commitments over three years, ManpowerGroup will place at least 3,000 refugees in jobs at its client companies, Tyson Foods
PepsiCo, for example, which previously partnered with Tent in Western Europe on a mentoring and coaching program, has agreed to hire 500 people over the next three years. “Five cents is big enough to force us to really put resources into it…to force my own team to say it’s not a sideshow,” said PepsiCo human resources manager Ronald Schellekens.
PepsiCo plans to concentrate its refugee hires in Phoenix, Dallas, Denver and Chicago. Schellekens plans to hire for factories and offices; the company’s food operations are based in Dallas, while its Gatorade and Quaker businesses are located in Chicago. “I think it should be for both blue-collar and white-collar workers,” he said. “I see it as a talent opportunity. There is no fixed playbook.
Chicken processing giant Tyson Foods, meanwhile, which employs more than 100,000 people in its North American operations, plans to welcome 2,500 refugees over the next three years. “For a long time, we have attracted people to work at Tyson with different English skills and refugee status,” said John R. Tyson, executive vice president of corporate strategy and fourth-generation member of the Tyson family.
Hilton, which has worked with Tent since 2018, plans to hire 1,500 refugees at its Hilton-owned and franchised hotels across the United States. and hiring,” a Hilton spokesperson said via email.
It’s not just altruism. Tent found that 73% of employers reported a higher retention rate for refugees than for other employees in a 2018 survey. Among manufacturing companies, the refugee turnover rate was just 4%, lower to 11% for all employees, according to the report. Although Tent has not updated this research, he expects these higher retention rates to have persisted.
At first, Ulukaya said, it was “very difficult” to convince some of the big companies to support the effort, but over time Tent made inroads. “We really make an economic case,” he said. “You hire these people and it affects your productivity, it affects your culture and it’s a no-brainer from a business perspective.”
In order to widen the employment pools, companies outside the Tent network have also sought to recruit refugees. GE Appliances, which is owned by Chinese consumer electronics conglomerate Haier, has set up its own recruitment program for Afghan and other refugees, as well as bilingual speakers, for its Louisville plant, which employs more than 5,000 blue-collar workers. .
Ulukaya argues that companies need to look to refugees for more than just blue-collar jobs, since many people coming to the United States have advanced degrees and other professional training. “Look at the people who come from Afghanistan or Ukraine. There are doctors and engineers,” he said. “Seeing them in blue-collar jobs isn’t fair. They have to go to a place where they can find a job based on their experience.
As for Chobani, the yogurt maker’s takeover bid, which would once have cost $10 billion, was postponed earlier this year due to falling shares and was withdrawn altogether in September. Going public in today’s market “makes no sense,” Ulukaya said. “We have no pressure to do anything. When the time is right, we will submit the file.