Employing refugees as a great new source of talent

The IAA France activates the INSEAD network to make a difference

From left to right: Maxime Baudet (Wero co-founder), Annie Kahn MBA’83J, Hamze Ghalebi (political refugee), Theo Scubla (Wero co-founder)

Images of refugees arriving in Europe after a perilous journey to escape war— having to leave their homes and all their belongings behind them—can leave one feeling powerless to help. But we do not just need to wait in hope for these tragedies to end, we can act now as business leaders to make a difference. That is what the INSEAD Alumni Association France (IAAF) has decided to do.

Many members of the INSEAD community are looking for talent and certain types of engineers, technicians, and experts in tech, health and petroleum industries are scarce. Often, recruiters cannot find these skilled professionals through traditional channels, including digital platforms. Refugees provide a great new source of talent. Many are highly educated, multi-lingual and come with relevant professional experience. They have led companies in their home countries; they have been entrepreneurs or managers; and some are experienced technicians, especially in those areas mentioned above as scarce.

Although many refugees have the necessary degrees and relevant experience, they find it difficult to secure employment. As they attempt to resettle, they are without networks, contacts and the social capital that are necessary to find jobs.

In today’s market, we need a platform to connect the supply side, the talented refugees, with the demand side, the recruiters.

In Paris, the IAA France has come up with a plan to help fill that gap: members of the INSEAD community will tap into this new pool of talent and help refugees find jobs. This endeavor, aligned with the school’s vision that business can be a force for good, also will create better understanding in society between the refugees and their new cultures.

As we did not want to duplicate existing efforts, we met with several organisations. We decided to partner with Singa, Wintegreat, and Wero—two NGOs and a social business enterprise, who work with refugees to help them find jobs, increase their knowledge of French society and social norms. Wero has already developed a job board for refugees. A thousand certified CVs, are registered in their data base, which is growing very rapidly. French banks, and other corporations, such as L’Oreal, are currently working with Wero to enhance their workforce.  Wero also offers assistance to companies who wish to diversify their workforce.   

Furthermore, existing INSEAD Alumni Clubs (the Career Club and Entrepreneurship Club) have agreed to invite and welcome refugees to workshops—an effective first step towards developing new professional networks. 

At the inauguration of the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society on 5 October 2018, we presented this project to an enthusiastic audience. We’re happy to report that INSEAD alumni, looking for new talent, are beginning to take this opportunity to fill positions. Then we can all benefit from win-win-win deals: deals that are good for the job seeker, business and society.

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