Dutch business leaders take action to support refugees with new business commitments

  • Accenture, Rabobank, Shell, ING and Philips among multinational companies pledging to hire, support and better serve refugees in the Netherlands and abroad
  • Paul Polman, H.R.H. Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, Alexander Rinnooy Kan and Birgitta Tazelaar of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs among business, government and non-profit leaders calling on the Dutch private sector to step up to support refugees

Utrecht, April 8, 2019 – Executives and CEOs of sixteen leading companies in the Netherlands, including Shell, ING and Philips, today announced a series of new commitments to support refugees in the Netherlands and abroad.

Announced at the first-ever Dutch Business Summit on Refugees – hosted by the Tent Partnership for Refugees in partnership with Accenture, Rabobank and Unilever – companies have pledged to hire refugees, support refugee entrepreneurs and better serve refugee customers. These commitments will lead to jobs for over 3,500 refugees, as well as improved access to services for more 10,000 refugees.

“Supporting refugees isn’t just the right thing, it’s the smart thing for businesses to do”, said Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder of the Tent Partnership for Refugees and CEO of Chobani – the number one Greek Yogurt brand in the United States. “With refugees here to stay, companies have a unique opportunity to harness their great talent and unrelenting human spirit in the workforce and broader economy. The minute a refugee has a job, that’s the minute they stop being a refugee. That’s when the magic happens.”

At the Summit, business leaders discussed how Dutch companies can better utilize the skills, talents and knowledge of the more than 100,000 refugees in the Netherlands.

“It is a waste of talent if employers don’t manage to integrate refugees into their workforce. With a diversity of backgrounds, they bring enormous potential to organizations, with different expertise, new perspectives and proven resilience. Hiring refugee talent is a gift to yourself and your organization,” said Irine Gaasbeek, Country Managing Director, Accenture the Netherlands.

Wiebe Dreijer, CEO of Rabobank, commented: “As a societal and mission-led bank, we co-hosted the Dutch Business Summit with the Tent Partnership for Refugees. The refugee situation is an important issue in the Netherlands and one which we at Rabobank care deeply about. My hope for the future is that we will again be a country that is capable of integrating refugees who were forced to flee their countries, and welcome them into our society as a place where they can be successful. This helps them and makes us a better country. Business has an important role to play to create meaningful opportunities for refugees to help them integrate into our society.”

Businesses also discussed the strategic and business imperative for companies to find ways to support refugees in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, where the vast majority reside.

Paul Polman, Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, continued: “It’s critical for businesses that have operations overseas to think about what they can do, especially in frontline countries like Turkey, Jordan and Ethiopia, which have some of the largest refugee populations in the world. Companies have a responsibility in helping refugees integrate in their communities, as well as creating the conditions to help them live a dignified life where they can support themselves and their families. It’s good for society and it’s good for business.”

The Dutch Business Summit on refugees featured the following commitments:

  • Accenture will hire 100 refugees and establish 150 new mentorship opportunities between Accenture employees and refugee talents by 2025. In addition, Accenture will organize 15 training events around IT skill development and invite at least 10 business partners to support the integration of refugee talent. Overall, by 2025, Accenture will invest €1 million in refugee employment integration in the Netherlands.
  • ING will provide a loan of €10 million to help launch 24 new businesses by Syrian refugees in Turkey, as well as by vulnerable members of the Turkish host community in Gaziantep, Adana, Şanlıurfa and Hatay, and support hundreds of additional start-ups with training and mentorship opportunities, with the cumulative goal of creating 2.200 new jobs in Turkey. Based on the success of the first year, ING and its partners will explore expanding the project for four additional years.
  • Over the next two years, Rabobank will offer 60 refugees the prospect of entering the Dutch labor market. This can be through a job opportunity, but also through work experience placements, internships or via a training course within the IT department. This matches Rabobank’s diversity ambitions. In addition, Rabobank will continue providing support to organizations that help refugees via the Rabobank Foundation. Examples of this are DeWerkclub, Sheltersuit, Sûr Atelier and Sarban.
  • Over the next three years, Shell will work to empower displaced people and their host communities through access to more and cleaner energy choices. In close collaboration with partners from the humanitarian and private sector, Shell will develop market-based approaches to address the energy access challenge for refugees, with an initial focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. Shell will work to equip displaced people & host communities, energy enterprises and humanitarian actors with the relevant data, skills and financial mechanisms to build local energy markets. Shell aims to test this scalable and replicable approach with a first pilot by the end of 2019.
  • Philips will strive to provide workplaces to 100 refugees over the upcoming 5 years (2019-2024) in the Netherlands and Germany. This builds on Philips’ long tradition of a culture that fosters Inclusion and Diversity. For the last 30 years, the Philips’ employment scheme in the Netherlands has focused on enabling people with a distance to the labor market to integrate into the workplace. Philips already has programs in place that offer refugees training and mentoring support, and integrates refugees into the company’s workforce.
  • Philips Foundation will partner with Hospitainer to support a 50-bed field hospital, primary care and a mother and childcare department in the Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria, helping to provide medical equipment to more than 70 thousand people in desperate need. The Philips Foundation believes in a better health outcome for all and is determined to make an impact on refugees’ access to quality healthcare.
  • Signify Foundation will contribute to better living conditions for refugees and asylum seekers by enabling improved energy access and livelihood opportunities in Rhino camp in northwestern Uganda. Specifically, over the next two years, Signify Foundation will provide five community lighting centers, areas that are about the size of a small soccer field and are lit by a new generation of highly efficient solar powered LED lighting systems, that will reach at least 5,000 refugees. These centers allow for a solar powered kiosk to be available for supporting a small business relevant to the needs of the community. 30 young refugees will be trained with technical and business skills so they can provide ongoing maintenance and management of the centers. In addition, Signify Foundation will support the Danish Refugee Council with funds to help refugees start small businesses. This is a replication of Signify Foundation’s partnership with the Danish Refugee Council where a similar intervention provided access to energy and livelihoods in Tanzania.
  • Hilton will impact 10,000 refugees in Europe by 2030 through hospitality training programs, in-kind donations to refugee centers, supply chain opportunities through the procurement of services from businesses run by refugees or that employ refugees, and the employment of refugees. This commitment contributes towards Hilton’s global pledge to impact 16,000 refugees by 2030 across its communities, supply chain and operations, which was announced in September 2018.
  • HP will pilot the HP School Cloud, a new technology which brings open education resources to rural and underserved communities, to improve education outcomes for refugees in Uganda. HP and its partners, including Education Cannot Wait, UNHCR and Learning Equality, will start in 3 schools. Based on the success of the pilot, the commitment may expand to 15 schools in Uganda, impacting approximately 5,000 children, and be scaled to other countries.
  • ManpowerGroup will scale its efforts to connect refugees to sustainable employment in the Netherlands to reach an additional 250 refugees by 2020. ManpowerGroup will do this by building on its efforts in 2018, which connected 500 employees with jobs in the Netherlands by working with its clients, several business partners, Dutch Refugee Council and the Association for Refugee Students (UAF). In addition, ManpowerGroup will explore opportunities to scale up local initiatives in Latin America, the Nordics, UK and Germany.
  • Unilever-Lifebuoy will partner with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to improve hygiene for Syrian refugees in Lebanon with limited access to clean water and sanitation infrastructure. The Lifebuoy partnership will support 10,000 Syrian refugee mothers and their children over the next 12 months with community behavior change programs and access to soap products that promote healthy hygiene.
  • Randstad will explore ways to increase the number of refugees reached by their programs for training and mentoring in order to obtain employment or improve their position in the labor market. Randstad aims to reach an additional 1,000 refugees over the next 2 years in European countries like Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, as well as Australia. Randstad will also look for opportunities to implement these programs in additional countries. To date, Randstad has implemented several programs that have touched the work lives of at least 5,000 refugees.
  • Dura Vermeer will hire and find employment for at least 45 refugees over the next three years with permanent positions in the construction industry in the Netherlands. Refugees who graduate from the two-year construction program at the Hogeschool of Rotterdam will be guaranteed a high-level technical position in the construction industry in the Netherlands either at Dura Vermeer or at companies in its partner network. Dura Vermeer will also support Stichting Nieuw Thuis Rotterdam to help prepare refugees for entrance into the labor market, by offering internships at Dura Vermeer and opening up their network. In addition, Dura Vermeer will encourage its suppliers to do more to support refugees and is helping to change the narrative around hiring refugees in the Netherlands.
  • ABN AMRO will hire 80 refugees by 2021 as part of the Reboot program, which was launched in 2017 to help refugees find employment at ABN AMRO in the Netherlands. As part of the Reboot program, ABN AMRO will provide an extensive coaching program over the course of one year to every ‘Rebooter’, which consists of language training, cultural training, and interactive coaching sessions with managers that focus on personal experiences. This commitment will connect refugees to full time employment in the Netherlands, while addressing ABN AMRO’s challenge of finding skilled employees for a variety of roles across the organization
  • Asito will hire at least 50 refugees over the next 2 years, offering full-time positions where possible. Asito will continue to increase awareness for hiring refugees by motivating clients and other cleaning companies to work with refugees, and influence local and national regulations governing the process of hiring refugees.
  • Dental Care Professionals will help 60 refugees with a dentistry or dental technician background to find work in a Dutch dental practice in the next three years. Providing refugees who are educated as dentists with work experience will help them with their exams and registration with the Dutch Beroepen in de Individuele Gezondheidszorg (BIG) register, the national register of authorized healthcare professionals. Dental Care Professionals will identify jobs where a supervising dentist is willing to provide coaching to refugee dentists. In addition, Dental Care Professionals will encourage the Dutch government to introduce policies on BIG registration so that refugee dentists can more easily work in dentistry in the Netherlands, where there is a high demand for dentists.
  • Arcadis will commit to hire 45 refugees across Europe over the next three years, as part of its diversity and inclusion programs. Arcadis will offer refugees the opportunity to attend a 3-month learning module on engineering and soft skills. A select number of these will then be invited to gain work experience at Arcadis for a period of one year, which will include language training. After a final selection, the most appropriate candidates will be offered a fixed contract.


Senator and economics professor Alexander Rinnooy Kan: “Access to the labor market ensures refugees truly become a part of society. The Dutch business community cannot be missed out in this effort.”

H.R.H. Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, Senior Advisor for Private Sector Partnerships, UNHCR: “The private sector can be a principal enabler in helping refugees move from aid dependence to self-reliance. Refugees want to be included in a wider economy, whether as an entrepreneur, employee or customer. They just need the tools and the opportunity to show their resilience and become self-reliant. Let’s work together to make this possible.”

Maarten Wetselaar, Integrated Gas & New Energies Director, Shell: “Shell believes that energy is a fundamental human need. We will work with partners to find ways to empower displaced people and their host communities through access to more and cleaner energy choices.”

Jeroen Zwinkels, Managing Director, ManpowerGroup, the Netherlands: “We believe meaningful and sustainable employment has the power to change the world. Everybody has the fundamental right to participate in the labor market and it is our mission to support people to get access to work, contribute and achieve their full potential.”

Ronald de Jong, Member of Philips Executive Committee and Chair of the Philips Foundation: “Whether escaping from poverty, war or natural disasters, the escalating number of refugees fleeing different parts of the world share the struggle to have access to the labor market and timely and proper healthcare services. Philips and the Phillips Foundation, with their respective mission to improve 3 billion people’s lives a year by 2030, and to reduce healthcare inequality by providing access to quality healthcare for disadvantaged communities, are committed to support refugees in the Netherlands and abroad and are determined to make an impact.”

Vincent van den Boogert, CEO, ING the Netherlands: “Our purpose at ING is to empower people to stay a step ahead in life and in business. Nobody leaves their home out of choice. But losing your home shouldn’t mean losing your livelihood or your dreams. Refugees can add value by bringing in new insights and ways of thinking into organizations. By investing in new jobs for refugees, we want to empower them and ensure that they can make the most of their talent. In the long-term, this helps to ensure they are self-reliant and in control of their own future. That’s what empowerment is all about.”



Marjolein Aalbers: [email protected], +31 (0)6 54921020

Joost Reijnierse: [email protected] , +31 (0)6 12 86 57 62

About the Tent Partnership for Refugees
The Tent Partnership for Refugees, founded by Chobani’s Hamdi Ulukaya, is mobilizing the private sector to improve the lives and livelihoods of more than 25 million refugees forcibly displaced from their home countries. Tent believes that the private sector is uniquely positioned to address the global refugee crisis by mobilizing the networks, resources, innovation, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the business community – and that companies have the greatest impact they leverage their core business operations to hire refugees, integrate them into supply chains, invest in refugees, and deliver services to them. The full list of over 120 Tent partners can be found here. Learn more about Tent: https://test-tent-site.pantheonsite.io.

About Rabobank Group
Rabobank is an international financial services provider operating on the basis of cooperative principles. It offers retail banking, wholesale banking, private banking, leasing and real estate services. As a cooperative bank, Rabobank puts customers’ interests first in its services. Rabobank is committed to being a leading customer-focused cooperative bank in the Netherlands and a leading food and agri bank worldwide. Rabobank employs approximately 43,600 people. Rabobank Group is active in 40 countries.

For more information about the Rabobank Group go to www.rabobank.com.

About Accenture
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions — underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network — Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 477,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.

About Unilever
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. It has 155,000 employees and generated sales of €51 billion in 2018. Over half (59%) of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has around 400 brands found in homes all over the world, including Dove, Knorr, Dirt Is Good, Rexona, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s, Lux, Magnum, Axe, Sunsilk and Surf.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) underpins the company’s strategy and commits to:

  • Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020.
  • Halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030.
  • Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.

The USLP creates value by driving growth and trust, eliminating costs and reducing risks. The company’s sustainable living brands are growing 46% faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70% of the company’s growth in 2017.

Since 2010 we have been taking action through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to help more than a billion people improve their health and well-being, halve our environmental footprint and enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business. We have already made significant progress and continue to expand our ambition – most recently committing to ensure 100% of our plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. While there is still more to do, we are proud to have been recognized in 2018 as sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and as the top ranked company in the Globecan/SustainAbility Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders survey, for the eighth-consecutive year.

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com.

For more information on the USLP: www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/.

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