70 companies come together to launch Tent UK, a new coalition of businesses committed to connecting refugees to work

  • Major businesses including Co-op, Estée Lauder Companies, Marriott International, Philips, Pret A Manger, Uniqlo, and Virgin join forces to help refugees in the UK access the labour market
  • New study reveals that over half of Brits believe taking action to hire refugees would have a positive effect on alleviating labour shortages

London, March 5, 2024 The Tent Partnership for Refugees (Tent) – a global network of companies committed to the labour market integration of refugees – is announcing the launch of Tent UK, a coalition of 70 major companies committed to hiring refugees and helping them become job ready. 

The UK currently hosts over 500,000 refugees with approximately half hailing from Ukraine and the remaining half from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Hong Kong, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere. While they have the legal right to work, refugees are over 20% less likely to be employed than Brits, with this gap widening to 30% for refugee women, according to the UK government. At the same time, the UK is experiencing severe labour shortages, with almost one million job vacancies across key industries such as hospitality, food services, manufacturing, and healthcare. 

“At a moment when UK employers face significant labour shortages, yet refugees across the country struggle to find decent employment, we see an extraordinary opportunity for our work,” said Gideon Maltz, CEO of Tent. “The coalition of companies that has come together to launch Tent UK understands that we need to act at scale to help hundreds of thousands of refugees in the UK secure jobs, rebuild their lives, and integrate into their new communities. Tent is uniquely placed and ready to help companies develop ambitious programmes to include refugees.” 

New research commissioned by Tent and conducted by Ipsos* has revealed that over half of Brits believe taking action to hire refugees would have a positive effect on alleviating labour shortages:

  • 52% of Brits said that helping refugees already in the UK who have the right to work find, apply for, and start roles would have a positive effect on alleviating labour shortages.
  • Hiring refugees came ahead of other actions companies could take, including spending money on sponsoring visas to enable increased recruitment of overseas candidates for UK-based roles (40%), enabling roles to be held by people based overseas rather than in the UK (28%), and investing in automation and AI to try and reduce the number of workers needed (22%).
  • Of the six actions presented, hiring refugees came behind just two others: creating more apprenticeship schemes to upskill people (77% rated this as having a positive effect) and introducing more flexible working practices to allow potential employees to vary the hours and locations in which they work (68%).
  • Data also showed that Brits are almost three times more likely to believe that companies should take actions to help refugees already in the UK find, apply for, and start roles in their businesses, with 49% saying companies should do this, and 17% saying they should not.

“Tent is immensely proud to have brought together 70 leading businesses resolved to connect refugees to meaningful employment,” said Jen Stobart, UK Director at Tent. “Refugees face numerous barriers to formal employment, such as lower language proficiency, transportation issues, lack of childcare options, as well as a lack of social and professional networks. These hurdles require particular attention from businesses, who – by making small upfront investments and tailoring their hiring practices – can level the playing field and give a fair chance to the many refugees still looking for a job in the UK.”

Tent UK will offer participating companies a host of services including: resources and trainings for HR teams; the sharing of best practices and ideas distilled from Tent’s global network of over 400 major companies across a dozen countries who are hiring and integrating refugees into their workforces, as well as tailored programmes and insights to the UK market context; regular convenings and workshops with other Tent UK member companies for peer-to-peer learning; and introductions to best-in-class partners across the UK that can source refugee talent based on the type of roles, the location, and their past performance. Tent is free of charge for participating companies.

“We are honoured to be joining the Tent UK business coalition to help drive employment opportunities for refugees here in the UK,” said Sue Fox, President of Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland. “This is an important step towards making the beauty industry more inclusive and representative of our society. Since inception, M·A·C Cosmetics is a brand that has celebrated diversity and welcomes people of all ages, all nationalities, all genders, so it was the perfect fit for this partnership. We look forward to expanding this initiative with other brands in the Estée Lauder Companies portfolio.”

“At Pret, we know the role employment plays for refugees, as they not only look to stand on their own two feet again but seek to settle and integrate into their new community,” said Clare Clough, UK & Ireland Managing Director at Pret A Manger. “I am proud that over the last 16 years, we’ve supported over 400 refugees to restart their careers with Pret, and I am excited to see the impact of Tent UK on businesses across the country.”

Tent UK is Tent’s sixth national coalition to launch, adding to existing coalitions in Canada, France, Mexico, Spain and the United States. 

The 70 companies joining Tent UK span a range of sectors and include: The AA, Accenture, The Adecco Group, Admiral Group, Amazon, Andron Facilities Management, Arcadis, Arup, Baker Hughes, Bank of America, Ben & Jerry’s, The Big Table Group, Biogen, Blackstone, Bloomberg, bp, Cargill, Churchill Group, Cisco, Citi, Compass Group UK & Ireland, Co-op, Crown Paints, Cygnet Group, Deloitte, DLA Piper, Dow Jones, eBay, Estée Lauder Companies, Finastra, GSK, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG Hotels & Resorts, IKEA, Indeed, Inditex, ISS, Johnson Matthey, The Kraft Heinz Company, Lineage Logistics, LinkedIn, LinkLaters, London Stock Exchange Group, L’Oréal, ManpowerGroup, Marriott International, McDonald’s, Menzies Aviation, Microsoft, Mondelēz International, Moody’s, Pfizer, Philips, Pret A Manger, Randstad, Reckitt, Reed in Partnership, Salesforce, Sanofi, Sodexo, Southern Co-op, Squire Patton Boggs, Starbucks, SUEZ, Thames Water, Unilever, Uniqlo, Virgin, Visa.

*Methodology: Ipsos UK interviewed a representative quota sample of 2,192 adults aged 16-75 in the United Kingdom using its online i:omnibus between 17th and 20th February 2024. The sample obtained is representative of the population with quotas on age, gender, region and working status. The data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions for age, working status and social grade within gender, and for government office region and education, to reflect the adult population of the United Kingdom.

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About the Tent Partnership for Refugees
With more and more refugees displaced around the world, businesses have a critical role to play in helping refugees integrate economically in their new communities. Tent was launched in 2016 by Hamdi Ulukaya, the CEO and founder of Chobani – a multibillion dollar food company in the U.S. – to mobilize global businesses to fill this gap. Today, Tent is a network of over 400 major companies committed to helping hundreds of thousands of refugees access local labor markets by helping them become job-ready and connecting them to work. Find out more at www.tent.org.

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