Dutch business community continues to lead the way in refugee integration

On April 8, 2021, the Dutch business community gathered at an online event hosted by the Tent Partnership for Refugees to share their progress on commitments made two years ago to integrate refugees in the Netherlands and abroad. 

Hélène van Melle, Lead for Europe at the Tent Partnership for Refugees and host for the event, said the 16 companies – including ManpowerGroup, Philips, and Rabobank – were on track to fulfill their goals, despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.  

“I am thrilled to see that these companies have lived up to their promises, even during times of crisis,” van Melle said. “Ultimately, supporting refugees is good for refugees, good for society, and good for business.”

The 16 companies made their ambitious commitments during the 2019 Dutch Business Summit on Refugees, co-hosted by Tent Partnership for Refugees, Accenture,Rabobank, and Unilever. 

In 2019, Rabobank made a commitment to hire refugees into its business, and announced that it has already hired 60 refugees in a range of positions including IT software engineers and financial controllers. Wiebe Draijer, CEO of Rabobank, said the company has had a very positive experience hiring refugee employees.

“They bring diversity of thought, resilience, and a great work ethic – and make us stronger as a company,” Draijer said. “Hiring refugees is something we will continue to do, and want to encourage our clients to start thinking about, too.”

Other companies have also stepped up to meet their commitment targets, or have started new programs to support refugees. ManPowerGroup, a workforce solutions company that participated in the 2019 Summit, fulfilled its goal of connecting more than 250 refugees to employment in the Netherlands. EY piloted a program to mentor refugee women, and Microsoft kicked a program to train refugees in their Azure software and help them find jobs with clients. Dairy company FrieslandCampina and European grid operator TenneT have also started hiring refugees in the Netherlands. 

The CEO of TenneT, Manon Van Beek, said that fostering an inclusive culture enhanced the company’s performance and helped the company grow. 

“It is my deep conviction that diversity makes a business stronger and increases performance, “ Van Beek said. “People are your most important asset – they must find a feeling of belonging at your company, and your workforce should reflect the community around you (and include refugees).” 

A second Dutch Business Summit will be held in 2022, during which companies will announce their new commitments to support refugees. 

To learn more about the event to track Dutch companies’ progress, click on the link below to see the press release, and watch the event recording below. 

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