Tent co-hosts first German Business Summit for LGBTQ Refugees

As the war in Ukraine rages on, and crises in countries like Afghanistan continue to displace millions of people, the number of LGBTQ refugees around the world continues to grow. Germany has shown incredible leadership in welcoming refugees from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and more recently Ukraine – and, while many of these refugees are successfully integrating into German society and the German labor market, LGBTQ refugees face additional barriers to integration and are often left behind.

In addition to the challenges which all refugees face, LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers often face greater exclusion, persecution, and violence due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ refugees also confront steep barriers to economic integration, including lower levels of proficiency in the local language, difficulties securing accreditation of their prior education, as well as transportation challenges.

To help LGBTQ refugees restart their lives and navigate the job market in their new communities, Tent has expanded its LGBTQ mentorship initiative – which is successfully helping LGBTQ refugees in North America and the UK gain skills to enter the job market – to Germany. 

German businesses have stepped up to this challenge and, at the first German Business Summit on LGBTQ Refugees, announced a joint commitment to  mentor 700 LGBTQ refugees in Germany over the next three years. Altogether, 14 companies – including adidas, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Post DHL, Generali, and PwC – each pledged to mentor at least 50 LGBTQ refugees. 

Mentors will help their LGBTQ refugee mentees craft strong resumes and cover letters, prepare for job interviews, and grow their professional networks through events and introductions. 

Chobani CEO and founder of the Tent Partnership for Refugees, Hamdi Ulukaya, said: “I’ve seen the generosity of the German people […] Germany has led the refugee topic globally… and German companies have really stepped up.” 

The event was moderated by Tessa Hart, Director of AfroPolitan Berlin, and brought together advocates like Albert Kehrer, CEO of PROUD AT WORK Foundation, and Alva Träbert, Trustee of the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD).

“When we started in 2013, we had some companies supporting the topic [of LGBTQ inclusion]” Mr. Kehrer said. “Now we’ve seen massive support from companies to aid the LGBT*IQ community by providing equal opportunities and being inclusive on all levels,” he added.

Ms. Träbert spotlighted the social benefits of the program and numerous contributions that LGBTQ refugees bring to the workplace and their newfound communities. 

“Countless refugees have a real chance at social participation through this program,” she said. “We’re talking about incredibly resourceful people whose contributions in a safe and dignified workplace make a huge impact on their lives and their communities.”

The event also featured a conversation with Omar, a 27-year-old LGBTQ refugee who fled Egypt in 2017 and now lives in Germany. Omar recently finished an apprenticeship in the healthcare industry at a Germany health insurance company and was hired shortly after completing the training.

After recounting his journey to Germany and the challenges he overcame in learning German and finding a permanent job, Omar shared advice for prospective mentors who want to join the mentorship initiative, saying, “I only had help from friends, so I would have benefited from such a mentoring program. It’s great to see that this specific initiative exists and mentees know beforehand that they are supported by LGBTQ-friendly companies. Mentors should be open to learning about this specific population and how they can help them sustainably, with very practical support, to better understand and access the German labor market.”

To find out more about the initiative and the 14 companies which committed to mentoring LGBTQ refugees, read the press release here, download the mentorship guide in German and English here, and watch the event recording below.

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