Businesses collectively pledge to offer mentorship to over 1,250 LGBTQ refugees in North America

LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers around the world are fleeing their home countries due to life-threatening persecution and violence. Even when this vulnerable population arrives in a host country where same-sex relations are not criminalized, they can still face discrimination, isolation and fear of rejection. To help LGBTQ refugees integrate into their new communities and prepare for the job market, global businesses collectively committed to provide mentorship opportunities to approximately 1,250 LGBTQ refugees in North America over the next three years.

At the North American Business Summit on LGBTQ Refugees, a virtual event hosted by the Tent Partnership for Refugees and the Human Rights Campaign, 23 companies – including Chobani, Under Armour, Warby Parker, and Hilton – announced pledges to mentor at least 50 LGBTQ refugees each through their LGBTQ Employee Resource Groups. 

Chobani founder and CEO and founder of the Tent Partnership for Refugees Hamdi Ulukaya thanked the companies for their leadership on the issue and emphasized the importance of businesses taking a stand for human rights. 

“The business community must use its power to build more inclusive communities that protect the most vulnerable among us,” Mr. Ulukaya said during the program.

The program was moderated by veteran LGBTQ journalist Merryn Johns and brought together human rights advocates like Alphonso David, the President of the Human Rights Campaign, and a former refugee himself, as well as Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a member of President Obama’s cabinet.

“In the case of LGBTQ refugees, they are fleeing either war, conflict, climate change, or more often than not, persecution on the grounds of their sexual orientation,” Ambassador Power said. “Against that backdrop, that makes this niche population – this doubly vulnerable population – so important to help,” Ambassador Power said.

In addition to the Ambassador’s call to action, Mr. David shared his own family’s story of resilience when they arrived in the U.S. from Liberia. He emphasized the outsized role of mentors in helping young people, especially refugees, find their way to success, not just survival.

“Coming to this country, seeing the opportunities and understanding my capacity is what got me to where I am today,” Mr. David said, reflecting on his own mentors. “As we think about refugee programs, I think about capacity. I hope that all of the businesses participating can robustly participate because the people that will get mentorship through this initiative will reap significant dividends, not only for themselves but also for our economy.”

“This is not charity,” Ambassador Power said. “The resilience, ingenuity, motivation, industry, commitment, creativity LGBTQ refugees have – these are very kind of people you want in your workforce,” Ambassador Power said. 

To find out more about the initiative and the 23 companies which committed to mentoring LGBTQ refugees, read the press release here.

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