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7 Tips to Creating Refugee-Friendly Recruitment Practises

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By Zoe Allen, Sona Circle

A diverse and inclusive workplace is an asset to any business. If you have read our previous blog post on the key benefits of hiring refugees, and are now ready to integrate refugees into your workplace, congratulations on making a great business (and humanitarian) decision!

Here are our top tips for making your recruitment practices refugee-friendly.

1. Review your language requirements

Refugees may still be developing their English language skills, and therefore job descriptions specifying a high level of English may be off-putting. Of course, some jobs, such as some content writing roles, will require a thorough knowledge of the English language, but many roles will not.

Have a second think through your role requirements to see what level of language skills is absolutely necessary.

In addition, consider whether key instructions and documents could be translated to different languages to accommodate refugee candidates and employees.

To make your roles even more accessible to refugees, you can embed English language training into your workplace. Currently, refugees can access funding for English tuition whilst unemployed and looking for a job, why not support their development by continuing this training in the workplace.

2. Support refugees to transfer qualifications

Many refugees have prior qualifications, attended university, or were previously employed in skilled employment; however the majority end up working in manual or unskilled labour in the UK.

It is important for employers to be open to helping refugees prove and verify their qualifications, by working with regulatory and industry bodies, or by consulting the NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centre).

This will allow refugees to access employment that fits their skills and interests which will be both much more rewarding for refugees and also enable employers to benefits from the full knowledge and talents of their employees.

3. Support employee’s mental health

The long hours and demands on employees in the workplace can be stressful for us all. More employers across the country are coming to realise the importance of supporting their employee’s mental health.

This requirement is even more critical when working with refugees who have often had to overcome traumatic experiences before arriving at their host countries.

Making sure your workplace prioritises the mental health of employees, such as by allowing mental health sick days and creating a supportive and open environment around mental health, will help refugees (and other employees!) feel much more comfortable and also perform better.

4. Offer internships and apprenticeships

Internships and apprenticeships, which provide on-the-job-training, can help refugees ease more gradually into the UK workplace, gain new skills, improve existing ones, learn about the workplace culture and also gain confidence.

As with job applications, try to ensure that entry requirements for internships and apprenticeships are accessible to refugees, for example by reviewing the language requirements.

More information and support on refugee internship and apprenticeship programmes can be found on the Sona Circle website.

5. Publicise inclusivity in your workplace

Being a socially conscious and inclusive organisation is something to be very proud of. Be sure to let the world know that your practises are aligned with your values. Your actions could inspire others to follow suit. As a thought leader in the marketplace, this is your responsibility.

Make it clear on your website, social media and PR campaigns and also on job adverts, that you are a refugee-friendly, diverse and inclusive employer.

Share the steps you are taking to make your workplace inclusive, such as by making space for religious holidays or setting up a Cultural Awareness Network.

6. Combat unconscious bias by educating employees

To make your workplace even more inclusive, be sure you are promoting inclusion and diversity at all levels.

This can include delivering unconscious bias training to all employees, rather than just for the hiring managers. Engage senior management in the refugee hiring programme, and offer training to supervisors to help them support their refugee hires.

This will all lead to the creation of a positive, diverse workplace environment, not only for refugees, but for all employees.

7. Find a partner to help you recruit refugee candidates

Get in touch with the friendly and supportive team at Sona Circle Recruitment to help you access refugee talent for your business and for advice with your recruitment process.

At Sona Circle Recruitment, we offer refugee employment and internship programmes for employers to recruit talented and committed employees.

We simplify the process by selecting a pool of great candidates who fit your requirements, before you interview the candidates and make your selection.

If you aren’t hiring right now, you can show your support by donating to the Sona Circle Refugee Employment Campaign. Sona Circle is a non-profit social enterprise and 100% of donations go directly to helping create employment opportunities for refugees.

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6 Ways to Convince your Employer to Hire Refugees

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By Katy Cottrell, Sona Circle

If you feel passionately about workplace equality and the social integration of refugees, addressing a lack of diversity in your own workspace is a great place to start. But having these types of conversations with your employers can be difficult, which is why we have created a list of key points that you can use to convince your boss to hire refugees.

1. Consumers care about diversity and inclusion

If your employer is reluctant to hire refugees, it’s good to point out that consumers are increasingly concerned with the ethical values of the businesses they support. For example, in 2017 the Cone Communications CSR study found that 78% of consumers say they want companies to address important social justice issues. Additionally, 87% said they would purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.

With an increase in awareness of systemic racism and racial bias, thanks to the Black Lives Matter protests, this stance is likely to gain some traction. Therefore, hiring refugees may have the advantage of satisfying socially conscious customers.

2. You could attract other skilled labour

Additionally, research has shown that millennials specifically want to work for companies that are more diverse and inclusive, and this affects which jobs they apply to. A study by Deloitte also found that millennials are more engaged with their jobs when they perceive their workplaces to be more inclusive.

3. Refugees have a variety of employable skills

One reason many companies are reluctant to employ refugees is out of a perception that they lack relevant experience. However, often refugees’ valuable qualifications and overseas experience are not recognised by UK employers. Therefore, the refugee population could be a large skilled workforce with untapped potential.
It’s a good idea to encourage your employer to be more open-minded about the types of previous experience and qualifications that could be highly relevant to their business.

4. You should practice what you preach

If your employer likes to pride themselves on being socially conscious or ‘human centric’, it’s worth reminding them that hiring refugees and creating a more diverse workplace, is a great way to prove that they really are.

5. You could be nominated for a diversity award

In various employment sectors there are a growing number of awards for diversity and inclusion. Examples include, the Employee Engagement Awards and the Inclusive Company Awards. Being awarded with recognition for workplace diversity is something a company can pride themselves on, and will illustrate to consumers that they are dedicated to inclusivity.

6. Sona Circle Recruitment can help

At Sona Circle Recruitment, we connect socially conscious employers with the skilled and dependable refugee workforce in the UK. Our refugee internship programme matches qualified and committed members of the refugee workforce with exciting new start-ups and growth businesses.

How else can I help?

You can also show your support by making a donation (no matter how big or small) to the Sona Circle Refugee Employment Fund where 100% of donations go directly to supporting refugee employment in the UK.

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Refugees and Mental Health: The Hidden Pandemic and the Value of Kindness

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By Agnese Pierobon, Sona Circle

I remember a couple of weeks after my move to a new country, I was walking around, trying my best not to get lost in a city unknown to me, when out of the blue, I heard a friendly voice. I turned and saw a refugee from the camp where I had recently started working; waving, he asked “Hi, boss, do you need directions?”

This interaction changed my perspective, things were turned upside-down; I was the stranger and he was the one who could guide me. This event gave me a small insight into the challenges that refugees face when they arrive in Europe. Being alone in a foreign country is never easy. For a refugee it could be dramatically harder.

Walking in the shoes of a refugee means; wondering how it would feel to be forced to leave your own country, to flee, leaving family and friends behind. It means travelling on a long journey, often vulnerable to extremely traumatic experiences, such as physical and sexual violence, torture, exploitation, hunger and thirst.

It means putting your life in the hands of smugglers, with the belief that they are your last and only chance to save yourself and reach a safe place to stay. Then, the lucky ones, those who survive the journey to Europe, start a long odyssey through multiple refugee camps, frequent police interrogations and complex bureaucracy. They begin the struggle to settle in their host country and to find a job. Many also have the responsibility to provide for their families, who are stuck in their home country.

Challenging

When refugees arrive in Europe, the procedures at reception centers focus on medical screening to check their physical wellbeing – but they don’t do enough to provide psychological assessment and, if needed, support. The refugee experience is extremely challenging and research from the Mental Health Foundation shows that displaced people are five times more likely to have problems with their mental health. Among the most common symptoms are anxiety, despair, a sense of helplessness and a loss of confidence in the future. The most severe cases suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which includes symptoms like flashbacks, hyperarousal, poor sleep and concentration as well as a loss of trust in other human beings.

To combat the mental health conditions refugees’ face, specific psychological treatments are very important and can have a deep positive impact. Individual or group therapy sessions, focused on discussing the traumatic event(s) is recommended in order to speed up the recovery process and to help refugees to start their new life.

However, as many psychologists highlight, this clinical relationship is not enough; in order to boost the effects of the therapy, it is fundamental that refugees also experience new, positive personal relationships with other people in their normal life. Forming a social network, developing friendly relationships with locals, not only with other migrants, can boost their integration and their self-empowerment.

So what can we, as members of the community, do in our daily lives to support refugees? We can be kind. We can remember that a single word may have a great impact. We can break down the wall of indifference and try to personally involve ourselves in supporting refugees.

We can go a step further. We can donate to organisations such as Sona Circle which help create employment opportunities for refugees within local communities. Sona Circle works with companies to employ refugees within their organisations, thereby providing a valuable resource to organisations that not only wish to hire a diverse workforce, but are socially conscious and wish to make a positive impact. We can donate towards the Sona Circle fundraiser here.

A single act of kindness can have a life changing impact on refugees and entire communities.

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ABC News

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

For highly skilled refugees, an opportunity to translate language skills into work

by Davi Merchan, ABC News

LONDON — Ahmed fled Syria knowing he might never return. He understood he would have to say goodbye to friends and loved ones, to the life he had worked so hard to build.

But he never thought taking refuge in another land would mean never practicing dentistry again, giving up on almost 10 years of sacrifices and hard work for a career he profoundly loved. Since immigrating to the U.K. in 2015, he has not been able to practice dentistry again.

“No one tells you that they won’t hire you,” Ahmed told ABC News. “But you feel it, the stigma. I feel it, many times, I feel it.”

Ahmed spoke to ABC News on condition of anonymity and asked to use a pseudonym in order to not jeopardize his dental certification application.

‘I’ve wanted to feel this feeling since I came to the United Kingdom. To feel like I can be helpful.’

Since coming to the U.K., he said he has spent hundreds of dollars in exam fees to get certified to practice. He said he meticulously saves what cash he can from the refugee allowance he receives from the UK government and splits his money between providing for his now-pregnant wife and saving for the certification exams.

Ahmed’s is a struggle familiar to many refugees around the world.

“We can’t pretend that refugees don’t experience racism and discrimination in the labor market, and that will negatively impact their access to jobs and the jobs that they might seek,” Alice Bloch, a professor of sociology at the University of Manchester, told ABC News.

In her research, Bloch has found that refugees are consistently underemployed. As a result, they often have gaps in their resumes. For highly skilled refugees, the problem worsens as the lack of practice tends to lower their chances of landing a job in their fields.

And like Ahmed, many refugees give up on their former careers when they are forced to flee to other countries. According to the Department of Labor, foreign-born workers are less likely to be employed in professional, management or related occupations than U.S. born workers.

“Recertification is a long and costly process in the United States,” Molly Fee, a Ph.D. student researching forced migration and refugee resettlement at the University of California, Los Angeles, told ABC News.

“Since early employment is a necessity for refugees as soon as they arrive, refugees typically have to accept the first job opportunity available,” Fee said.

For many refugees, that means taking entry-level jobs and changing their career paths.

Fee said that some refugees are able to successfully readjust their career goals. For example, former doctors get certified as nurses or medical technicians so they can continue to work in their fields of expertise.

For Ahmed, he has chosen to pursue both dentistry and a new profession.

A few months ago, Ahmed heard about Sona Circle, a networking app that helps refugees find employment opportunities in their areas.

Archibald Troko, one of Sona Circle’s co-founders, said it’s about giving refugees hope so they can say, “‘Hey, look, I haven’t just been discarded and fall through the cracks of society.”

With close to 2,000 users in New York, London and other major cities and the ability to connect refugees with employers, Ahmed said he hoped to find a job through Sona Circle.

Instead, Ahmed found work through the company’s other brainchild, Sona Translate, a new company that aims to employ mostly refugees as translators and interpreters.

Ahmed said he spent his first year in the U.K. learning technical and advanced English to help him get re-certified in dentistry. Now, he brings those language skills to his new job at Sona Translate, which also allows him to fund his continuing studies.

“I’ve wanted to feel this feeling since I came to the United Kingdom,” Ahmed said. “To feel like I can be helpful.”

Troko said the service also hopes to change people’s views about refugees.

“We hope to really inspire people to try and take on a new business model to support vulnerable communities,” Troko said.

Sona Translate launched in the U.K. on Oct. 19, and Troko said the company plans to expand to the U.S., Canada and Australia over the next two months.

You can read the article here