PRESS RELEASE: Global Businesses Pledge to Support Over 1,000 LGBTQ Refugees in North America (Canada Version)
- The Tent Partnership for Refugees and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation join forces to mobilize the business community in support of LGBTQ refugees
- Accenture, CIBC, Scotiabank, Softchoice and TD Bank are among over 20 companies announcing commitments to mentor LGBTQ refugees in Canada, as well as Mexico and the United States
December 8, 2020 – Today, the Tent Partnership for Refugees, a network of over 130 major companies committed to integrating refugees, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), the educational arm of the U.S.’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, have joined forces to mobilize businesses in North America to support LGBTQ refugees. Altogether, 23 companies have announced their collective commitment to provide mentorship opportunities to approximately 1,250 LGBTQ refugees over the next three years. Approximately 450 of these refugees will be mentored in Canada.
At the North American Business Summit on LGBTQ Refugees, convened virtually by Tent and the Human Rights Campaign, these companies recognized the challenges for LGBTQ refugees as they seek to integrate into their new communities. The businesses have each pledged to mentor at least 50 LGBTQ refugees via their LGBTQ Employee Resource Groups — helping LGBTQ refugees gain the skills and network needed to advance in the Canadian job market.
Canadian banks have come out in support of LGBTQ+ refugees:
- CIBC has committed to mentoring in Ottawa, Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver;
- TD Bank Group will conduct mentorship in Toronto and New York; and
- Scotiabank has partnered with The 519, Canada’s most prominent LGBTQ2S community centre and service-provider, to carry out its mentorship activities in communities across Canada. Additionally, Scotiabank has pledged CAD $500,000 to The 519 in support of this initiative.
Other major companies across a range of sectors have also stepped up to mentor LGBTQ refugees in Canada, including: ADP, Finastra, IBM, Ipsos, Kearney, SAP, and Softchoice. They are joined by companies mentoring LGBTQ refugees in the U.S. and Mexico, including: AT&T Mexico, Bain & Company, CompuCom, GSK, Chobani, Hilton, Huron, Medtronic, Nomura, Under Armour, Von Wobeser y Sierra, and Warby Parker.
“Refugees have been disproportionately affected by the economic crisis, with many losing their jobs – and we know that LGBTQ refugees face even bigger hurdles,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani and Founder of Tent Partnership for Refugees. “Especially in the current economic climate, I am incredibly proud of the companies stepping up today – including Chobani. It’s in times like these that the business community must use its power to include the most vulnerable among us.”
Mr. Ulukaya was joined at the summit by Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign and a former refugee from Liberia; and Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a member of President Obama’s cabinet.
“LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers are fleeing the same persecution and violence facing refugees across the world. Many are fleeing places where simply being who they are puts them in danger of imprisonment or even death,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “LGBTQ refugees, like all people, deserve the ability to not only survive, but to thrive as newcomers. Partnering with Tent and the business community on this initiative will impact the lives of countless LGBTQ refugees.”
Many LGBTQ refugees have been forced to flee their home countries due to persecution directly related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Sixty-nine countries still criminalize same-sex relations, and nine may impose the death penalty. Transgender people face incredible levels of discrimination and violence without legal recourse in countries around the globe. While there are no official figures available, it is estimated that Canada hosts thousands of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers.
“I am thrilled at the level of engagement from colleagues at CIBC who have volunteered to be mentors to LGBTQ+ refugees,” said Sam Kochhar, Associate, Technology Leadership Advancement Program and Tent Program Lead at CIBC. “In the first week of launching the program, we surpassed our goal of 50 mentors, and our team members are excited to participate and help mentees achieve their ambitions. As a gay South Asian immigrant to Canada, I have lived firsthand through the experience of starting from scratch and building my professional network and understand the important role mentorship plays in career success.”
“Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to TD’s culture and core values. Since the announcement of TD’s participation in Tent, many colleagues from Canada and the U.S. have already expressed their interest to be a mentor,” Girish Ganesan, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, TD Bank Group, and Head of Talent, TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®. “TD, through the TD Ready Commitment, is grateful to partner with many LGBTQ2+ community organizations across North America, who are making important impacts to support the wellbeing of LGBTQ2+ refugees. Supporting the Tent Partnership for Refugees and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s mission to mentor LGBTQ2+ refugees across North America brings together TD’s long-standing and vocal support for LGBTQ2+ and newcomer inclusion.”
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About the Tent Partnership for Refugees
With more and more refugees displaced for longer periods of time, businesses have a critical role to play in helping refugees integrate economically in their new host communities. The Tent Partnership for Refugees mobilizes the global business community to improve the lives and livelihoods of 30 million refugees who have been forcibly displaced from their home countries. Founded by Chobani’s founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya in 2016, we are a network of over 130 major companies committed to including refugees. Tent believes that companies can most sustainably support refugees by leveraging their core business operations – by engaging refugees as potential employees, entrepreneurs and consumers. Find out more at www.tent.org.
About the Human Rights Campaign
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of HRC.